Rás Tailteann follows successful run with search for 2019 sponsor
Race was run on reduced budget this year, after An Post ended sponsorship in 2017
Rás Tailteann overall race winner Luuc Bugter (Netherlands Delta Cycling X) with Naoise Ensor and race director Eimear Dignam. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
“We have a couple of meetings coming up in the next couple of weeks,” she told The Irish Times on Thursday. “We are hopeful that they might lead to something. It is vital to get something in place before the end of the summer as there is too much money involved to plan without that, including the funds necessary to secure a place on the UCI calendar.”
The race was backed for several years by An Post, but that sponsorship ended in 2017. This year the race was run on a reduced budget, and drawing from a slush fund which had been built up over several years. Dignam confirmed that fund is empty, thus underlining the necessity to find one or more new backers.
The 2018 Rás Tailteann featured 11 international squads, the Irish national team and 19 Irish county teams. It was won by Dutch rider Luuc Bugter (Netherlands Delta Cycling X) who seized the yellow jersey on the final day from longtime race leader Cyrille Thiery (Switzerland National Team).
Irish riders performed strongly, including stage wins from Robert-Jon McCarthy (Ireland National Team) and Sean McKenna (Holdsworth Pro Racing) and fourth place overall with Damien Shaw (Holdsworth Pro Racing).
Meanwhile, another important international event, the Junior Tour of Ireland, has secured funding for 2018. It was previously backed by Scott Bicycles, and will now receive backing from Eurocycles Eurobaby. Race director Alice Sheratt noted that the latter company had sponsored the race’s points classification for the past three years.
Without international races like this in Ireland aiding athlete development, the large amount of talent we have in Ireland could go undiscovered
“We are thrilled that they have committed to assuming the role of title sponsor for the 2018 edition,” she said.
Eurotrek Group chief executive Mel Sutcliffe underlined the importance of the race. “To see the list of riders that have come through the Junior Tour is phenomenal,” he said. “Today we see the rise of Sam Bennett winning three Giro d’Italia stages, and also Eddie Dunbar is establishing himself at the highest level of professional racing.”
Bennett took overall honours in the event in 2008, while Dunbar triumphed in both 2013 and 2014. Both have gone on to impressive pro careers.
“Without international races like this in Ireland aiding athlete development, the large amount of talent we have in Ireland could go undiscovered,” said Sutcliffe.
The event will take place between July 10th and 15th and will include teams from the UK, USA, South Africa and the Netherlands.