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An Post Rás Rider Profile

posted 9 May 2016, 05:24 by Kevin Monaghan   [ updated 16 May 2016, 13:49 ]
(By Shay O'Toole - Sun 15th May 2016)   
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Next Sunday the 2016 An Post Ras will depart Dublin Castle for its eight day trek around Ireland with the first stage due to arrive into Multyfarnham for a sprint finish around 3pm. As a follow-up to last week’s piece on the history of this great race, this week’s notes focus on the teams and riders to watch out for.

In recent years the Rás has attracted more and more of the top level Continental teams and already there is over a dozen international outfits signed up to race this year’s edition which will feature 25 categorised climbs over a total of 1240 kilometres. The world-ranked event will feature stage finishes in Multyfarnham, Charleville, Dingle, Sneem, Clonakilty, Dungarvan and Baltinglass before concluding in Skerries on 29th May.

From across the Irish Sea the big teams will be NFTO, Madison Genesis and JLT Condor with all three containing up and coming professionals keen to make their mark. NFTO will be led by expert climber Josh Edmonson who has backed up Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome during a two year stint with Team Sky in 2013 and 2014. He was second in the Ras last year in the colours of the Irish registered An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly team so he will definitely be one to watch. Team Madison Genesis will be more than familiar with the Irish roads as they have tasted success in recent years and were the team of Martyn Irvine, the special guest for our 40th “Suits and Sparkles” celebration. They will also be well tutored as their Directeur Sportif is a former Giro d’Italia stage winner. The JLT Condor crew will feature two Irish riders, Conor Dunne and David McCarthy with Dunne being the in-form rider in recent weeks with a superb win in the Rutland Classic. He has also had previous Ras success with a stage win into Longford in 2013.

One of the strongest teams ever to sign-on for the Rás is the New Zealand national team with the same riders set to form the nucleus of their track team at this summer’s Rio Olympic Games. The stand out name on this team is Hayden Roulston who, whilst being somewhat of an unknown in mainstream cycling circles, has a very impressive record. Roulston is a multiple national champion who raced as a pro on the HTC Highroad, Radioshack Nissan and Trek Factory Racing professional squads. He is also a past Tour of Poland stage winner and took silver and bronze medals on the track at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Up against all of these heavy hitters will be our own Damien Shaw and his An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly team. Shaw will in no way be overawed by his competitors’ CV’s or past glories as he himself will be wearing the Irish National Champion’s jersey when he takes to the line outside Dublin Castle. Despite a less than perfect preparation due to illness and an injury sustained last week in Luxembourg, Damien has stated that he is relishing the prospect of competing in this year’s race as a first year professional and especially with the opportunity to finish a stage on home territory. The An Post Chainreaction team has had a mixed start to the 2016 season with illness affecting a number of its riders however, the Rás always seems to bring out the best in this team. As yet, the full line-up has not being announced for this year’s race. 

For the first time in several years this year’s Rás will feature an Irish national team made up of some very promising young talent mentored by some more experienced personnel. The five man Irish squad will be spearheaded by the talented Cork youngster, Eddie Dunbar who finished second to Damien Shaw in last year’s National Championships but now rides with the US based pro team, Axeon Hagens Berman.

Lining up alongside all of these professional riders will be several of Ireland’s best amateur riders who week in week out race at the club races around the country. This is one of the quirky facts about the An Post Rás as it is very unusual for amateur athletes to compete against pros and, as has often been the case in this historic race, beat them. Chief amongst these teams will be Munster based, Aquablue, Louth based, Team Asea and the former students of UCD. Aside from Damien Shaw, other local competitors include former Lakeside Wheelers clubmen Eoin Lynch (DID Dunboyne) and Multyfarnham native Stuart Cox.
 
As well as those mentioned above, the race director Mr Tommy Campbell has confirmed that entries have also been received from teams based in Australia, Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the USA with several more foreign teams likely be confirmed prior to next week’s event. 

So, if you are looking for a great afternoon of top class sport and family entertainment, head for Multyfarnham next Sunday where the Ras will be screaming into this normally sleepy village at approx. 3.00pm. There will be traffic restrictions in place so please follow directions.

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