Rás Tailteann 2018 is the most mountainous route in years

This year’s edition will feature 34 climbs, including four category-one ascents

Cyclists  cross the finish line in the 2017 An Post Rás,  in Skerries, Co Dublin.  File photograph: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Cyclists cross the finish line in the 2017 An Post Rás, in Skerries, Co Dublin. File photograph: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

 

The most mountainous Rás Tailteann route in recent years has been unveiled, with this year’s edition of the world-ranked event to feature 34 climbs, including four category-one ascents. The race will begin in Drogheda on Sunday, May 20th, and conclude one week later in Skerries.

The race was known in recent years as the An Post Rás, but the loss of that title sponsor led to it reverting to its former name. While a search for a new backer is ongoing, there are sufficient funds to run a race this year.

“This year’s route is very reminiscent of the 2013 route, when we headed down to Kerry and Glengarriff, ” said the new race director, Eimear Dignam, the daughter of the longtime race organiser Dermot Dignam.

“A couple of stages are very different, though. For the most part, there are a lot of hills, but there are an awful lot of very fast roads and very undulating roads on a lot of the stages.”

The race launch was originally due to be held in Dublin on Wednesday, but the death of race official Gaybo Howard and the holding of his funeral on that day led to the change of timing and an online presentation.

The race begins on May 20th with an undulating 136km stage to Athlone. Day two runs 148.7km to Tipperary, while the third stage to Listowel will be a flat, fast 140.4km.

One of the hardest stages is stage four to Glengarriff, with eight categorised climbs along the 153km route. This includes the first category Healy Pass. The stage is followed by a flatter 150.2km to Mitchelstown, with a second first category climb – Gorteen – appearing on stage six to Carlow.

Stage seven to Naas is even more difficult, as the 141km leg through Wicklow is dotted with eight climbs. These include the category-one pairing of Drumgoff and Wicklow Gap, and the race may well shake up the GC. The Rás Tailteann concludes on Sunday, May 27th, with an undulating 144.6km race to Skerries.

Rás Tailteann route 2018 (UCI 2.2 world-ranked event): Stage 1, Sunday, May 20th: Drogheda to Athlone, 136km; Stage 2, Monday, May 21st: Athlone to Tipperary, 148.7km; Stage 3, Tuesday, May 22nd: Tipperary to Listowel, 140.4km; Stage 4, Wednesday, May 23rd: Listowel to Glengarriff, 153km; Stage 5, Thursday, May 24th: Glengarriff to Mitchelstown, 150.2km; Stage 6, Friday, May 25th: Mitchelstown to Carlow, 154.6km; Stage 7, Saturday, May 26th: Carlow to Naas, 141.2km; Stage 8, Sunday, May 27th: Naas to Skerries, 144.6km. Total: 1,180.5km

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