Irish International Cycling Event- FBD Insurance Ras – 18-25 May2008

Not only does the organiser of the FBD Insurance serve up a tough course for the FBD Insurance Ras but he tags on another milestone in the history of this event with the announcement that FBD Insurance are now sponsors of the event for the last 25 years.

So, it is no surprise that Dermot Dignam wants to serve up an 8-day race that will test the mettle and the ability of the contestants over a testing course come May 18.

Of course Dermot was a competitor in the great event many years ago and he knows that to have a worthy winner, the course has to be sporting not alone for the competitors but the public want an equally interesting event that hopefully will go rightdown to the wire.

It is early days to nominate a winner, but the drought of a local winning is enhanced by the fact that Paidi O’Brien and David O’Loughlin have prioritised their season to giving it a good go.

The 2.2-ranked event begins in Navan on Sunday May 18th with a 142 kilometre stage to Ballinamore. As has been the norm for many years now, often or not the winner of the first stage need not necessarily wear the race leader’s tunic for day two. The time bonuses which are awarded enroute could eclipse the stage winner!

So, as regards the Joe public are concerned the stage winner Ballinamore will wear the distictive tunic, but that is where the time bonuses come into play!

Day two to Claremorris is relatively flat,  but the real factor here is the tactics that will be employed in defence of the yellow jersey.

On day three  the climbers come to the fore due to the inclusion of a gruelling first category climb less than eight kilometres from the finish at Lidoonvarna. A pattern should emerge and that day is likely to have a very important effect on the race.

Day four takes the riders 155.6 kilometres from Corofin to Tralee. After a mainly flat first half, the peloton will face three category three ascents at Barnagh Gap, Glanshearoon and Barr na Gaoithe, then a fast run into Tralee.

The legs on day four should be beginning to suffer and this 141 kilometre mountain leg maybe the straw that breaks the camels back!  There are five big climbs to cover, including the category two ascents of Farranfore, Ladies View, Molls Gap and Turners Rock, plus the category three Derrycreha.

On Friday the Skibbereen to Clonmel stage is the longest of the race! It is a torturous 180 kilometres and the following day is another biggie over 177 kilometres from Clonmel to Roundwood. As this stage features some very serious climbing in the final hour it is likely to be one of the most decisive days in the 2008 FBD Insurance RÁS.

If the event is not done and dusted after Roundwood, then the final stage from Newbridge to Skerries could be very interesting.

The composition of the event this year could be more favourable to the domestic competitors. Race organiser Dermot Dignam has ruled out the possibility of top teams who have dominated the event in the last number of years which has alienated the locals.

”I think Dermot has made a wise move and this should level the playing field. It should see more of the home grown talent taking their chance in the event and and the county classification will be a big boost,” said John Herity a former manager of the Great Britain squad who is a reguar to the ‘Ras.’

FBD Insurance Ras-18-25 May

Details:

Stage 1-Navan/Ballinamore, 142kms;

Stage 2-Ballinamore/Claremorris, 167.5kms;

Stage 3-Claremorris/Lisdoonvarna, 131kms;

Stage 4-Corofin/Tralee, 155.6kms;

Stage 5-Tralee/Skibereen, 141kms;

Stage 6-Skibereen/Clonmel, 180kms;

Stage 7-Clonmel/Roundwood, 177kms;

Stage 8-Newbridge/Skerries, 13kms.

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