60th edition of The An Post Rás sets demanding challenge for riders
The 2012 An Post Rás route, the sixtieth anniversary of the race, was announced this morning at the GPO. Laying out a battleground that features 28 categorised climbs, including three of the hardest and best-known ascents in the country, the race looks certain to provide riders with a challenging eight days of racing.
A number of ‘Rás legends’ including ‘Iron Man’ Mick Murphy, four times winner Sé O’Hanlon and the first ever winner of the race, Colm Christle, joined rising Irish star Sam Bennett at the GPO today to celebrate the launch of the 60th edition of the Rás.
Rás organiser Dermot Dignam believes the 2012 An Post Rás is going to be one of the toughest in years.
“It is going to be the most challenging course in recent memory,” said Dignam “This is Stephen’s (cyclist Stephen O’Sullivan) second year to design the route and he has really planned a very hard eight days of racing”
Check out the 2012 An Post Rás Route
“There are a huge number of difficult ascents littered throughout the route, and overall it is probably leaning more towards the climber than the all-rounder. There is something tough in store every single day, so there’s no doubt it will be a very exciting race” Dignam added.
Where does the 2012 An Post Rás Route Go?
Passing through a total of fourteen counties and totalling 1168 kilometres over the eight days, the race will again get underway in Dunboyne, Co. Meath (home club of O’Sullivan) on Sunday May 20th. It follows a roughly clockwise direction, heading north west this year, instead of south west, with stage finishes in Kilkenny, Gort, Westport, Bundoran, Buncrana, Killybegs, Cootehill and Skerries.
Dignam expects that as usual, the race will attract strong international professional and national teams from Europe and further afield.
An Post first became the sponsor of Ireland’s most gruelling cycling race last year, and after a hugely successful contest An Post Chief Executive Donal Connell is looking forward to creating an even bigger spectacle this year.
“2012 marks an incredible sixty years of racing under the banner of the Rás Tailteann. An Post is once again supporting this special event, in what is a landmark anniversary year for the race.”
“Among Irish people there is a strong tradition and heritage attached to the An Post Rás. This year the support and interest from towns along the route has again been huge, no doubt due both to the success of last year’s event and the very real value of a spectacle of this size coming to town.”
“The An Post Rás is quite literally putting the towns of villages of Ireland on the map – with a valuable spin off for the local economy. Many of the stage end towns are now running their own cycling festivals in tandem with the race and a number of charities are benefiting from parallel events.”
“As part of our community sponsorship this event allows us to support volunteerism, sporting excellence and local business all over the country. We are looking forward to a truly memorable 60th edition of the race” he added.
Details of the international teams set to join this year’s An Post Rás will be released over the coming months. The An Post Sean Kelly team, with whom the defending champion Gediminas Bagdonas rides, is already committed to participating.