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Local councillors and business people alike were buoyant with the news that Nenagh is to host a stage end in the An Post Ras this May. The An Post Ras, which is an annual, eight-day, stage cycle race around Ireland is expected to provide a great boost to the local economy. The race is Ireland's number one cycling event and will take place from May 19 - 26, 2013. The epic race began in 1953 and has been held every year since. It is one of Ireland’s top sporting events bringing world class sporting action and a significant economic boost to towns and villages nationwide. The Rás has a worldwide reputation of being a gruelling challenge in the elite, international calendar. The open racing style allows amateur, county and club riders to pit themselves against domestic and international professionals.
Cllr Virginia O’Dowd is very excited about this news and believes that the Visit Nenagh Classic had a lot to do with securing the Rás stage end;
“This stage is coming to Nenagh on the strength of the successful Visit Nenagh Classic held last April, and which drew some of the top riders in Ireland. This is a unique opportunity to showcase Nenagh and North Tipperary
on a massive national and international scale. It also gives businesses a chance to promote a Ras special in whatever area they are trading, whether that is hospitality or retail”
Cllr. O Dowd continued by saying “It will be a colourful event and no doubt we will see huge crowds lining the route, especially the finishing straight in Pearse Street. Coming after the second Visit Nenagh Classic, which will be held on Sunday, April 21, this will copperfasten Nenagh as a cycling destination for the leisure and the competitive cyclist.”
The 2013 An Post Rás route was announced at the GPO in January. A demanding eight days of competition faces the riders with the 61st edition of the race featuring over 1180 kilometres of cycling and no less than 33 categorised climbs, four of which are category one mountains.
Two time Rás winner and former Olympian Ciaran Power was on hand to launch the annual international cycle race at the GPO along with amateur county riders Brian Ahern and Robin Kelly and newly appointed Rás organiser, Tony Campbell. Campbell, who recently took over the reins from Dermot Dignam, insists the mixture of flat and mountainous stages was designed to strike the right balance while also providing the amateur riders with a better chance of competing against the top teams. “It is a different type of course this year. The route designer, Stephen O’Sullivan wanted to make some changes. The first three stages are pretty flat, which will keep the time gaps close and the suspense high. You don’t need the hills to have good racing. It’s up to the riders to be aggressive and to break things up. Part of the thinking was to provide encouragement to the Irish riders to race, as they should be able to compete against the professional teams. The stages are of a length to encourage them to race hard over that distance. But there are also a couple of stages with plenty of hills, and that will give the climbers the chance to make a difference”, Campbell said.
A new and exciting aspect of the race for Irish riders will be the addition of a ‘County Rider’ jersey. This will spice up the action between the county teams as they compete to claim the jersey and local glory that goes with it on each day of the race. The world-ranked race begins in Dunboyne on Sunday 19th May, the fourth consecutive year it has started there. It will then move counter-clockwise around the country, and includes stage finishes in Longford, Nenagh, Listowel, Killarney, Glengarriff, Mitchelstown, Carlow and Naas, before concluding on Sunday 26th May with the customary finale in Skerries, North County Dublin.
Campbell expects that as usual, the race will be a much sought after event in the cycling calendar by strong international professional and national teams from Europe and further afield. An Post continues to sponsor the race, which will be a key event in the company’s Gathering 2013 schedule of activity. An Post CEO, Donal Connell said
“This is the third year of partnership between two well-known Irish institutions. We look forward to another year of great racing and fabulous support from communities all along the route. We are expecting over 14 international teams to compete so this is a great chance to showcase our racing talent, our countryside and our culture to a world audience. The An Post Rás will be a great asset to the Gathering’s 2013 calendar.”
Team Director of the local Visit Nenagh N7 Cycling team René van Dam was enthusiastic about Nenagh being chosen to be part of the route this year “We worked hard over the last year to get the Rás to come to our town and even though we were confident it was great to finally hear it confirmed”. René believed the success of the Visit Nenagh Classic last year helped convince the organisers to chose Nenagh as a stage end, he went on to say how much of an economic boost it will bring to Nenagh with up to 500 people coming to Nenagh for the event and generating approximatly €50,000 in one day.
Source: An Post