Thursday, 13th April 2017: Anticipation of this year’s An Post Rás (2.2) continues to build with two more strong international squads added to the line-up. ROG Ljubljana from Slovenia and the American CCB Velotooler Cycling Team have confirmed their entry in to the eight day stage race, beginning on Sunday, May 21st from Dublin Castle.
It will be the second appearance in An Post Rás for the American CCB Velotooler Cycling Team, having competed in last year’s edition. Cory Small, who finished sixth overall in the Under-23 classification and Noah Granigan will both return as part of the five man team and will be joined by Cooper Willsey, Jonah Mead VanCort and Jake Sitler.
Team manager, Tim Mitchell confirmed the squad will target the general classification (GC) and admits the experience gained by Small and Granigan last year will give them a better chance of vying for top spot.
“We learned a lot from competing in the Rás last year. It’s a very tough and unpredictable race and our experience from 2016 will definitely stand us in good stead. Jake and Cory will be the two most likely to target the general classification, so having those two options will hopefully allow us to be in the mix even if there is a major shake-up on GC on one of the days.
Noah will be targeting a few specific stages and looking for a podium result in those, whether it’s from a break or a reduced bunch sprint. Cooper and Jonah will be support riders for the GC guys but will still have freedom to hunt for breakaways. They will also be relied on to position Noah later in stages that he is targeting.”
As part of their build-up to the race, the US riders will have a varied programme. Some of the squad will compete at the Joe Martin UCI stage race in the US while others will be tested in the Tour d'Azerbaijan. The full squad will all come together for the Bear Mountain Classic road race prior to flying to Ireland.
The Slovenian ROG Ljubljana team line-up includes Žiga Jerman, who finished sixth in last year’s Junior World Championship road race, and Tadej Pogačar, who took third in the 2016 European Junior Championships. Joining them will be Izidor Penko, Matic Grošelj, Tilen Finkšt and Žiga Ručigaj with the final five man selection being made from this list. Jerman, Pogačar and Penko however will most likely be the confirmed leaders.
Team director Marko Polanc confirmed the squad will compete in Slovenia, Italy and Poland in the build-up to the event and admits he has no specific aims for the Rás but will be targeting a high finish on GC and stage victories.
“We haven’t set our exact goals as of yet but our approach as a team is to always ensure we are vying for stage wins and competitive at the top of the GC”.
An Post Rás race director, Tony Campbell is delighted to see two more very strong international teams confirmed:
"We have already announced teams from the Netherlands, Denmark, Australia, Belgium and France, so with the Slovenian and US teams adding to that it’s already an incredibly talented field. It’s going to make for some really great racing.”
The 2017 An Post Rás will begin in Dublin on Sunday May 21st and features stage finishes in Longford, Newport, Bundoran, Buncrana, Dungloe, Donegal, Ardee and Skerries.
It comprises eight gruelling days in duration, totalling 1200 kilometres in distance and includes 21 categorised climbs. The An Post Chain Reaction Sean Kelly Team has already committed to participating.