Martin improves to ninth in Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in Spain
‘Wait and see’ continues to be the position regarding the future of the Rás Tailteann
Ireland’s Daniel Martin: the stage between Quart de Poblet and Chera should suit the Irish climber. Photograph: Reuters/Stephane Mahe
Following his 10th on Wednesday’s opening stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in Spain, Dan Martin improved a placing to ninth overall on Thursday’s second leg.
The 166km race in and around Alicante came down to a bunch gallop, where Italian Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) prevailed over Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), Ben Swift (Team Sky) and the rest of the peloton. Martin rolled in as part of the same group, placing 66th. One of those ahead of him in the general classification lost over a minute and half, causing Martin to move up a place.
Friday’s stage between Quart de Poblet and Chera has a hillier finale, and this should suit the Irish climber, as should Saturday’s penultimate leg to Alcocebre.
At home, this week has seen continued talks over the future of the Rás Tailteann. The race has been seeking new sponsorship after An Post vacated the role as backer in 2017. It was held last year thanks to a contingency fund, but has been chasing new sponsorship for this May’s edition.
The organisers had been talking to two companies in recent months. Discussions with a US-based company ultimately proved fruitless, at least for 2019, while an Irish company is yet to give a final decision. The clock is ticking in terms of the time needed to organise the world-ranked event this year. Race director Eimear Dignam had hoped to announce a final decision long before now, but remains in limbo.
“There have been discussions at Government level this week but it hasn’t led to anything as yet,” she told The Irish Times on Thursday. “People appreciate the importance of the event, and so we will wait and see. We are still waiting for a final yay or nay from the Irish company, which should come early next week.”
The race is a world-ranking event, and attracts a large number of international teams, as well as a high standard of domestic competitors. Potential entrants are all keen to know if it will take place, as are those who support the event and the sport, but Dignam believes it is important to give every chance for it to proceed.
“We understand people’s frustrations and that they don’t know if the race will go ahead or not. But if it takes another week to get a positive result, that is what it will take. We are letting things drag on in the hope of a good outcome for what is a historic and very popular sporting event.”