Rás Tailteann gets reassurance from UCI

Cycling governing body confirms race will remain eight-day event if it returns next year

Luuc Bugter celebrates after winning the stage eight of the Rás Tailteann last year. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Luuc Bugter celebrates after winning the stage eight of the Rás Tailteann last year. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

Forced into a hiatus this year due to a lack of sponsorship, the Rás Tailteann has received some welcome news: if it returns next year, it will be of the same duration as before. Race director Eimear Dignam confirmed as much to The Irish Times on Thursday, saying that fears the race might be shortened by cycling’s world governing body the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) have been assuaged.

The possibility of a reduction has long been on Dignam’s mind, but she has been reassured by contact with the sport’s organisers.

“Owing to our long history in Irish cycling and our history with the UCI since the race became part of the international calendar, they have agreed to keep us as an eight-day next year,” she said. “It was always a concern that if we came off the calendar for one year, that the UCI could reduce it to a five-day.”

Competition

The Rás ran as a nine-day event for many years but has been an eight-day competition since 2001. It became part of the UCI’s international calendar one year prior to that.

Dignam and her predecessors have long underlined the length of the race as being of importance to the competitors, particularly the Irish county riders. It has been the highest-ranked and longest race in Ireland, and offers the chance for the home competitors to go shoulder to shoulder with highly-rated international teams.

The race was backed in recent years by An Post but the company ended its sponsorship after the 2017 edition. The event was unable to secure new backing for 2018 but went ahead thanks to a reserve fund. That was fully depleted and so finding a new sponsor was crucial for this year’s race to go ahead.

Dignam was in long discussions with a possible backer but ran out of time for this year. She told The Irish Times that she is still engaged with the company in question, and hopes to secure a deal in the coming months.

In other news, Dan Martin remains fifth overall heading into stage five of the Tour of the Basque Country. Martin finished in the chasing group on Thursday’s fourth stage, crossing the line 15th. The group was 19 seconds behind stage winner Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), who led in a four-man breakaway.

Schachmann has dominated the race thus far, taking stages one, three and four, and remains at the top of the general classification. Martin is fifth, 58 seconds back. His first cousin Nicolas Roche crashed out of the race on Thursday but fortunately was not seriously injured.

Tour of the Basque Country (WorldTour)

Stage 4, Vitoria-Gasteiz – Arrigorriaga: 1, Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) 164 kilometres in 4 hours 3 mins 45 secs; 2, T. Pogaar (UAE Team Emirates) at 4 secs; 3, J. Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) at 7 secs; 4, A. Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) at 11 secs; 5, M. Hirschi (Team Sunweb) at 19 secs; 6, E. Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe)

Irish: 15, D. Martin (UAE Team Emirates) same time; DNF: N. Roche (Team Sunweb)

General Classification after stage 4: 1, Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) 12 hours 38 mins 26 secs; 2, I. Izagirre Insausti (Astana Pro Team) at 42 secs; 3, P. Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe); 4, D. Martínez (EF Education First) at 57 secs; 5, D. Martin (UAE Team Emirates) at 58 secs; 6, E. Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 1 min

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