Cycling: Time running out to secure a sponsor for 2019 Rás
Race director Dignam in talks with two companies as final deadline looms
Race director Éimear Dignam with Noel Clarke at the Rás Stage Three in Tipperary last year. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
The clock continues to tick in relation to the 2019 Rás Tailteann, with previous deadlines for a final decision coming and going as the search for a sponsor continues.
Race director Éimear Dignam had previously named dates in November and earlier this month as the points whereby she needed to make a decision in relation to the running of the 2019 event.
However, with talks ongoing, Dignam must wait a little longer before she can say yea or nay to next year’s edition. She has been in discussion with two potential backers; one is an international company, while the other is based in Ireland.
“I am still waiting to have a call with the managing director of the international company, so we are holding on for that,” she told The Irish Times on Thursday. “As regards the Irish company, we had a very positive meeting on Wednesday. They were very clued into what the Rás is about, but they need to get the decision from within the larger group they are part of.
“They are aware we are under tight time constraints, and so are hoping to have more news next week.”
Dignam previously explained the complexities behind running the international event, including the securing of UCI status for the race. However she will keep trying to get a deal in place rather than rush to a decision.
“We are way over our cutoff point as regards planning , but I am reluctant to pull the plug on it while we still have some sort of possibilities,” she said. “I am staying hopeful that we can get something into place soon but, because of the time constraints, these companies are our last two chances for next year.”
In other news, the new Irish Evo Pro team continues to build towards its debut in 2019, with more roster announcements made this week. On Wednesday it confirmed that the Kiwi Aaron Gate will join the squad.
He has a big prior experience of Irish competition, having raced for the An Post Chainreaction team between 2013 and 2016 and taking An Post Rás stages in 2015 and 2016.
More recently, the former track world champion was part of the Aqua Blue Sport pro team in 2017 and this year. So will continue the Irish theme in racing for the Evo Pro squad.
On Thursday the team announced one of its top hopes for 2019, namely Wouter Wippert. The Dutchman has had a successful career as a sprinter, winning stages in the Tour Down Under, the Tours of Alberta, Taiwan, Hainan, China, the New Zealand Cycle Classic and in the Czech Cycling Tour.
He has raced for the WorldTour Cannondale squad and, more recently, the Pro Continental Roompot–Nederlandse Loterij, winning the 1.1-ranked Omloop Mandel-Leie-Schelde Meulebeke.
Wippert hasn’t capitalised fully on his early potential but if he can get his momentum back, he could be a very successful rider for the Irish team in 2019.