Further details emerge about new-look Rás Tailteann
Organisers say there will be international presence despite race losing UCI status
Ger Campbell of Cáirde Rás Tailteann says that the race will begin ‘in the greater Dublin area’, that it will follow a point to point route rather being based around the same area throughout. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
A week after the previous organiser of the Rás Tailteann revealed that the race would be run by a new group in 2020, one of those involved has given some more details about next year’s event.
While the route announcement will not take place until January, Ger Campbell of Cáirde Rás Tailteann has told The Irish Times that the course outline is “99 per cent sure” and that the race will take place in mid-June.
Campbell has worked on the event for many years. He is one of the volunteers who have been so vital in helping it take place, and has worked closely with previous race organisers such as Eimear Dignam. Dignam said last week that the search for a major race backer had not been successful and, as a result, that the new Cáirde Rás Tailteann group had committed to running a shorter event instead.
It will be held over five days rather than the previous eight, and will not be on the UCI calendar in 2020. While Campbell hopes that the event will return to world-ranking status in the future, he sees some advantages to it changing status and switching to a new time slot next year.
One of those perks is the effect it should have on keeping riders motivated for longer. “We have found that the domestic season has petered out after the Rás,” he said. “Holding it later should help in this regard. Next year the national championships will be held earlier because the Olympics will lead to an earlier Tour de France; the Rás will lead things up to the national championship weekend.”
Campbell said that the race will begin “in the greater Dublin area”, that it will follow a point to point route rather being based around the same area throughout, and that the final finishing location was yet to be finalised.
He also said that Cáirde Rás Tailteann believes the necessary funding will be in place. “We have a few irons in the fire at the moment,” he said. “We have some core funding, and we are confident that we will have the level that we need to run the race.”
He also confirmed that while shedding the previous 2.2 ranking will mean that UCI Continental teams from outside Ireland will not be able to take part, that there will be an international presence in the race. “Teams who came for the race prior to the UCI era have been in touch, as have other squads who are no longer UCI Continental teams.”
The lack of UCI teams may indeed convey a benefit to the race. In recent years it has been difficult for Irish riders to take on the foreign teams in the same way as they did in the past. Although home riders have won several stages, the last overall winner from Ireland was Stephen Gallagher back in 2008.
Running a non-UCI event as was the case prior to 2000 should level the playing field somewhat, leading to more home success and, arguably, more media attention. This in turn may make the event more marketable to Irish-based sponsors.