Smaller Rás to be held in 2020 as organisers hand over to new group
Volunteer group will run the race but are still looking for a new sponsor to come on board
Team Delta X UCI Continental’s Luuc Bugter celebrates after winning the Ras by one second in 2018. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Cumann Rás Tailteann , the long-running organisers of the Rás Tailteann have handed over control of the race to a new group of volunteers who have committed to holding a smaller version of the event in 2020. The round Ireland race has been run since 1953 and stepped up to the UCI international calendar in 2000, but was not held last season due to a lack of sponsorship.
Eimear Dignam, who took over as race director following the previous tenures of her father Dermot Dignam and Tony Campbell, told the Irish Times on Wednesday that the sponsorship search continues to prove an elusive one. “I’d hope that things will improve after Brexit, but we are going to have to tell the UCI that there will not be an international event next year.”
Dignam said that a group of volunteers previously involved with the race have committed to taking on the running of the event.
“We are thrilled to see this legendary race continue,” she said in the released statement. “It has a special place in the hearts of not only the cycling community in Ireland, but also now in the hearts of those who’ve competed in it from around the world. We know the new organisers extremely well, having worked with them on the race for many years, and we’re delighted to have them take up the mantle.”
In a statement, the new Cáirde Rás Tailteann group thanked the previous organisers and committed to run what it said would likely be a five day event in 2020. In recent years the Rás has been eight days in duration and featured many international teams. Next year, it will be shorter and will likely have a greater focus on Irish domestic teams. However it is possible that there could be a small number of squads from England or elsewhere.
Ger Campbell is a longtime Rás volunteer and is part of the new organising group. “On behalf of the promotions group and entire cycling community in Ireland, we would like to thank Cumann Rás Tailteann and the Dignam family for entrusting us with the organisation of this great race going forward,” he said. “We are honoured and excited about putting this race back on the calendar from 2020 and look forward to seeing all the old faces, and undoubtedly some new ones becoming Men of the Rás.”
Cáirde Rás Tailteann’s aim is to continue the search for sponsors and, when possible, to return to the international calendar in future years. It is understood that next year’s event is likely to be held in June.