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It’s May….The Month of the Rás

posted 22 May 2017, 15:17 by Kevin Monaghan
(By Shay O'Toole - Sun. 21st May 2017)   
For most people, the month of May is associated with things like longer evenings, fresh growth in the garden or First Holy Communion ceremonies. However, if you are a cycling fan or more importantly, an Irish cycling fan, May is associated with one thing, the Rás.
Today saw the start of the 65th edition of the Rás and unfortunately, the last one which will be sponsored by An Post. Over the years this race has become one of Ireland’s premier sporting events and has been graced by several of the sports leading stars including Mark Cavendish and Tony Martin. Only last week the opening stage of the 2017 Giro d’Italia was won by Austrian rider, Lucas Postelberger who won the Rás in 2015. 

Eoin Lynch Westmeath Planet X Team
This iconic eight-day stage race departed Dublin Castle at noon with 39 teams from across the world all vying to arrive in Skerries on next Sunday in one piece and maybe step on the podium to claim the yellow jersey. These teams consist of 5 riders and are representing Continental Teams, Countries, Counties and Regions. The foreign riders will often comment on how the Irish road surfaces or the weather can influence the race but what makes the Rás truly unique is that it allows amateur riders compete against seasoned professionals and on occasion, the part-timers manage to steal the glory.

This year’s Rás route covers 1,200 kilometres over eight stages with 21 categorised climbs, including two category one climbs, Mamore Gap and Glengesh Pass, both of which are in Co. Donegal. With Lakeside Wheelers having hosted a stage finish and start in 2016 the nearest it comes to Mullingar this year will be Longford town where the opening stage finished earlier this afternoon. The remaining stage finishes will be in Newport, Co. Mayo before it heads north to Bundoran, Buncrana, Dungloe and Donegal town, then on to Ardee, Co. Louth and finally, Skerries in North Co. Dublin. 

Local interest will centre on Damien Shaw of the An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly team and former Lakeside Wheelers man Eoin Lynch who will be riding for the Athlone based Planet X team. Damien will certainly be one to watch as he is coming into the race on the back of some very strong rides in France in recent weeks, one of which brought him his first stage win in the professional ranks. With three visits to the Rás podium in 2015 and a fantastic 5th place overall last year, Shaw will undoubtedly be the star of his Belgian based team. On the other hand Eoin is facing into his 2nd Rás so he will be looking to build on what he learned last year. 

Best of luck to the two lads and indeed all riders in this year’s An Post Rás from everybody at Lakeside Wheelers and if you are anywhere near the action give a big shout out to the local lads.

Damien Shaw An Post Chainresction Sean Kelly Team leads the Rás through Kilcock
Damien Shaw An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly Team leads the Rás through Kilcock