The distinctive pink leader's jersey has been redesigned this year to include the new sponsor, An Post and coincides with the expansion of the event from three to five days.
This year’s event, which marks the 25th anniversary of international Women's stage racing in Ireland, runs from 14th – 18th September and is set to be the toughest yet as riders face an extra two days of hard racing in the rugged Kerry countryside.
Looking forward to challenging for the new leader's jersey in September is Kerry star Michelle Geogehegan who races full-time in Holland with the Moving Ladies squad.
“I missed last year’s event through injury and this year I’ve also had a few problems with crashes and injury but if I can get myself fully fit, I’ll be fighting like mad to take that new leader’s jersey,” says the Tarbert racer who rides with Orwell Wheelers in Ireland.
Also planning a concerted assault on the event is former winner Louise Moriarty who races with the UK-based Look Mum no Hands squad and last year’s county jersey classification winner Melanie Späth.
“The route looks really challenging with the extra two days and I’d really love to put my stamp on the event as it moves to five days,” says Moriarty, who took overall victory in 2004 and 2008.
"I missed last year's event but there was a great battle between the Ireland squad and the top UK and Dutch teams and I'd love to get involved in that this year.”
Meanwhile mountain bike specialist Späth has paid increasing attention to road racing this year and is looking to build on last year’s county rider classification success in her second year at the event.
“Last year’s race was a great experience and I really love hills so I can’t wait for this year’s event,” says German-born Späth who races with support from Cycleways. “This year’s race will be a step up for everyone, from the full time riders to the part time amateurs. It was such a friendly race last year that the atmosphere was absolutely perfect before during and after each stage."
About the Race
An Post Rás na mBan riders will take on some of the most famous climbs in Irish road racing including the Healy Pass, Coomaciste and Molls Gap. The latter climb appears on the 58k first stage which begins in Sneem, Co Kerry. Stage two will see the riders take on a daunting 88 kilometre loop starting and finishing in Waterville, while stage three will take the riders across the fabled ‘Healy Pass’ en route to the stage finish in Kenmare.
Saturday’s fourth stage is four laps of a rolling 17km loop around Sneem and Tahilla followed by a 2km individual time trial in Sneem that evening. The concluding stage of the race is the longest stage of the event, a 95 kilometre spin from Sneem to Waterville and back, including ascents of the Coomaciste climb from both sides.
With the very best of Ireland's racing talent set to do battle with top international teams, interest has been strong in this year’s revamped event with squads expected from the UK, Holland, Belgium and Germany as well as the usual strong entry from local teams and riders.
For more information visit (new window) www.rasnamban.com
2011 An Post Rás na mBan Route:
Stage 1 “Molls Gap” - Wednesday 14/9
58km including climb of Moll’s Gap - (new window) http://ridewithgps.com/routes/438102
Stage 2: “Waterville” - Thursday 15/9
88km including two QOM climbs - (new window) http://ridewithgps.com/routes/446356
Stage 3: “Healy Pass” - Friday 16/9
82km - Three QOH ascents including the Healy Pass -(new window) http://ridewithgps.com/routes/438120
Stage 4: “Tahilla” - Saturday 17/9
Sneem-Tahilla-Sneem Circuit x 4
69km rolling roads - (new window) http://ridewithgps.com/routes/438112
Stage 5: “TT” - Saturday 17/9
Sneem Time Trial - N70 to Sneem Village - 2km
Stage 6: “Coomaciste”
95km including two ascents of Coomaciste - http://ridewithgps.com/routes/446280