Three category one peaks included in 2016 An Post Rás

Course will be 60 kilometres longer than last year and more undulating

 Irish riders Eddie Dunbar, Martyn Irvine and Bryan McCrystal at the launch of the 2016 An Post Rás at Dublin Castle from where the race will start on  Sunday May 22nd. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Ipho

Irish riders Eddie Dunbar, Martyn Irvine and Bryan McCrystal at the launch of the 2016 An Post Rás at Dublin Castle from where the race will start on Sunday May 22nd. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Ipho

 

Last year was a flatter course lacking any category one mountains, but this time around An Post Rás director Tony Campbell has thrown a bone to the climbers and unveiled a hillier and longer race route.

Campbell revealed the course for this year’s race at a launch held yesterday in the GPO, and said that tough roads throughout the eight-day event should lead to some very aggressive action.

Totalling 1,238.7 kilometres in all, the course is 60 kilometres longer than the 2015 edition, which was won by the Austrian Lukas Postlberger.

He’s since gone on to a pro contract with Sam Bennett’s Bora-Argon 18 team and those vying for the overall title this time around will also be thinking of what deals they could secure as a result of a Rás win.

O’Connell Street

Dublin Castle is the location for stage one’s rollout on Sunday May 22nd, with the venue being chosen in order to tie in with the 1916 commemoration. Campbell had originally aimed for a return to the GPO and O’Connell street, but roadworks led to a switch across the Liffey.

After riding at a neutralised pace to Clonee, the start proper will begin there and take the riders 144.6 kilometres to Multyfarnham. Bonus sprints and a category three climb will enliven the action, with another such ascent appearing on stage two from Mullingar to Charleville. This is 183.7 kilometres in distance, the longest of the race, and will be followed by a hilly 133.2 kilometre dash to Dingle.

The standout feature is the first category Conor Pass, a testing climb which comes less than ten kilometres from the finish and will shake things up.

Day four also includes a category one climb, with Ballaghisheen Pass and three other categorised ascents ratcheting up the difficulty of the 162.8 kilometre race to Sneem.

The climbing theme continues on stage five’s 148.3 kilometres between Sneem and Clonakilty, with the day’s fifth climb – the category two McCurtain Hill, coming on the 12.2 kilometre finishing circuit.

Stage six to Dungarvan is 159.1 kilometres in length and peppered with undulating roads, while the following day’s 155 kilometres to Baltinglass includes the first category Mount Leinster and will give another opportunity to reshuffle the general classification.

The 2.2-ranked international event then concludes on Sunday May 29 with a 148.4 kilometre leg from Kildare to Skerries.

“Some said before last year’s race that it was very flat, but it still worked out to be a very tough event,” said Campbell, referring to the aggressive approach of many teams.

“We’ve brought back the big climbs this time and expect another exciting edition.”

Stage One
Sunday, May 22nd

Clonee to Multyfarnham (144.6 kms)

Stage Two
Monday, May 23rd

Mullingar to Charleville (183.7 kms)

Stage Three
Tuesday, May 24th

Charleville to Dingle (133.2 kms)

Stage Four
Wednesday, May 25th

Dingle to Sneem (162.8 kms)

Stage Five
Thursday, May 26th

Sneem to Clonakilty (148.3 kms)

Stage Six
Friday, May 27th

Clonakilty to Dungarvan (159.1 kms)

Stage Seven
Saturday, May 28th

Dungarvan to Baltinglass (155 kms)

Stage Eight
Sunday, May 29th

Kildare to Skerries (148.4 kms)
 

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