Irish riders ready to shine at Commonwealth Games

Also: first international teams announced for this year’s Rás Tailteann in Drogheda

The first of eight Northern Irish riders will line out in the Commonwealth Games on Friday, getting their campaign under way in the Anna Meares Velodrome in Brisbane, Australia. Robyn Stewart will ride the women's sprint, with Eileen Burns competing in the women's individual pursuit.

Also in action on Friday are Xeno Young and Marcus Christie, who will both ride the men's individual pursuit. On Saturday Young, Marc Potts and Mark Downey will compete in the men's scratch race, and Stewart will do the 500-metre time trial. Lydia Boylan will go in the women's points race.

Irish riders have shone in recent years in track competition, and hopes are high that the team can secure success in the Games. The squad will also compete in road race events, with the campaign continuing until April 14th.

In other news, the first international teams for this year's Rás Tailteann have been announced. The British Canyon Eisberg and Saint Piran squads have both said they are targeting success in the race, which begins in Drogheda on May 20th.

New title sponsor

The event was run in recent years as the An Post Rás, but the company ended its sponsorship last year. The race is yet to find a new title sponsor, but has sufficient reserves to go ahead.

The Canyon Eisberg squad will include Dexter Gardias, who was fourth on a stage in 2016 and finished third overall last year in the King of the Mountains competition. Rory Townsend, who recently declared for Ireland, will also be taking part and last year recorded five top-10 results in UCI races. These include second in the 1.2-ranked Midden-Brabant Poort Omloop, points classification success in the 2.2 Tour of Quanzhou Bay and mountains classification victory in the 2.1-ranked Tour of Almaty.

The team will be completed by the Britons Max Stedman, Louis Rose Davies and Matt Nowell.

The second team, Saint Piran, is a new squad from Cornwall. The squad will feature Joe Evans, who was seventh on stage four and 19th overall last year, as well as Northern Ireland rider Cameron Jeffers and the Cornish duo Jake Alderman and Will Harper.

"Joe will be our leader and we are hoping to push him into the top 10," said team manager Steve Lampier. The fifth member of the squad will be confirmed closer to the event.

This year's Rás Tailteann totals eight days and 1,168.7km in length, and is ranked as a 2.2 event on the UCI's international calendar. The race recently announced an initiative with cycling clothing manufacturer Spin 11, whereby a commemorative cycling kit is being produced and will help raise funding for the race. Details can be found at RasIreland.ie.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling

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