Video: Newly unveiled An Post Rás route given thumbs up by 2013 runner-up McConvey
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Video: Newly unveiled An Post Rás route given thumbs up by 2013 runner-up McConvey

by Shane Stokes at 2:58 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Video
Irish event to feature 36 categorised climbs and Seskin Hill summit finish

An Post Ras 2014The route of Ireland’s toughest stage race the An Post Rás has been welcomed by last year’s runner-up Connor McConvey, with the Synergy Baku Cycling Project rider saying that he believes the eight day race will make for a big spectacle and also a worthy winner.

“It is quite different to some of the [past] Rás routes. There are the first few usual hard stages, including stages around Kerry, then up until the stage on Seskin which is going to be a real key part of the race.”

He referred to stage four as being particularly testing, due in part to the ten categorised climbs which will feature. “Doing 190 kilometres on Kerry roads with a few climbs and stuff – there mightn’t be anything major in terms of climbing [compared to European ascents – ed.], but it is Kerry roads for 190 kilometres. It is going to be really difficult.

“In saying that, it is the Rás – something could happen any day, any where, but it looks like a pretty grippy route.”

McConvey, last year’s best county [Irish domestic] rider Roger Aiken and former An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly rider Ronan McLaughlin were all present at yesterday’s launch and give their thoughts in the video below.

McConvey finished on exactly the same time as overall winner Marcin Bialoblocki last year. He is regarded as one of the big favourites and believes the route should suit his characteristics.

“It is always the same type of rider who wins it, usually,” he said. “You need to be able to climb and ride in the crosswind and all that, but the biggest thing you need to be is just active. To be conscious of what is going on and to be in everything.

“It is going to be an aggressive route. It is going to be a hard route, a real war of attrition kind of route, but it always is.”

The 2014 race will begin on May 18th and comprises eight stages totalling over 1260 kilometres in all. It includes 36 categorised climbs, of which five are first category and one is the summit finish of Seskin Hill.

It will trace a counter-clockwise route around Ireland, beginning on Dunboyne on Sunday May 18th and featuring stage end finishes in Roscommon, Lisdoonvarna, Charleville, Cahirciveen, Clonakilty, Carrick on Suir, Baltinglass and Skerries.

Despite the proliferation of climbs, the race organiser Tony Campbell believes that the overall balance of the race is quite even and that there is something for several types of riders.

“I wouldn’t say it is a pure climber’s race,” he insisted. “There are climbs, but there are also a lot of fast roads where plenty of aggressive racing will be done. I think it is more or less one for a good, hard strong rider, a guy who can push up over the hills and who is also good when the speed is on. I think it’s an An Post Rás for the strong all rounder.”

The race gets underway on Sunday May 18th with a stage starting in Dunboyne and including four Post Office Prime/Hot Spot Sprints in Athboy, Coole, Edgeworthstown and Ballymahon, Each will offer time bonuses for the general classification, while the mountains jersey will go to the rider who wins the category three climb at Richmount.

The 149.8 kilometre stage ends in Roscommon.

The same town is the start venue for stage two, which runs 159.2 kilometres to Lisdoonvarna and includes two Post Office sprints and two categorised climbs. The latter includes the category 1 mountain at Doonagore, which comes just under eight kilometres from the finish and which will likely break up the peloton.

Day three from Lisdoonvarna to Charleville features many flat, fast roads along the 154.2 kilometres route. It includes two category three climbs but a bunch sprint is the most likely outcome. The same certainly can’t be said of stage four, which will likely be the most difficult in this year’s race.

It is both the longest at 183.6 kilometres and also includes ten categorised climbs. These conclude with the category two pairing of Raheen and Cill Urlat and then the gruelling category one Coomanaspic, which tops out twenty kilometres from the line in Cahirciveen.

An Post Ras 2014Stage five is the second longest at 168.9 kilometres and includes five ranked climbs, of which two are second category. The final hour of racing is flatter and a bunch finish is likely in Clonakilty. However the final stretch is steeply uphill, and small gaps are possible.

Day six brings the race 167.9 kilometres to Sean Kelly’s hometown of Carrick on Suir where Seskin Hill, one of his old training climbs, will host the An Post Rás’ sole summit finish. That will fragment the peloton and could potentially see a reshuffling of the top ten.

More uphills follow on the penultimate stage, a 147.7 kilometre race from Carrick on Suir to Baltinglass. There will be seven categorised climbs in all, including the category one pairing of Corabutt (km 78.4) and Mount Leinster (km 82). However these come a long way from the finish and it’s possible that the front groups could come together again before the line.

The 2.2-ranked race finishes up on day eight with a 134.3 kilometre race to Skerries. There are five climbs in all but these are all third category and may not be enough to bring about a change in the overall standings. The bunch finish last year was won by Sam Bennett, who went on to take a stage in the Tour of Britain and secure a pro contract with NetApp Endura;

“In some ways it is similar to last year’s route,” says Campbell. “The first two stages are mainly flat, although day two has a category one climb near the finish. The speed will really be on during those stages and I think the effects of that will tell on the third and fourth day when riders start to get worn out.

“The day around Cahirciveen is going to be a hard stage. It is over 180 kilometres that day and will be difficult. The climb up Seskin Hill will also be important, but there will be plenty of opportunity throughout the eight days for attacks. The speed and the distance will tell, they will make things hard.”

An Post Rás route 2014 (UCI 2.2, May 18 – May 25):

Stage 1, Sunday May 18: Dunboyne to Roscommon, 149.8 km:
Stage 2, Monday May 19: Roscommon to Lisdoonvarna, 159.2 km:
Stage 3, Tuesday May 20: Lisdoonvarna to Charleville, 154.2 km:
Stage 4, Wednesday May 21: Charleville to Cahirciveen, 183.6 km:
Stage 5, Thursday May 22: Cahirciveen to Clonakilty, 168.9 km:
Stage 6, Friday May 23: Clonakilty to Carrick on Suir, 167.9:
Stage 7, Saturday May 24: Carrick on Suir to Baltinglass, 147.7:
Stage 8, Sunday May 25: Newbridge to Skerries, 134.3 km:


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