he strength and experience of the international opposition in the FBD INSURANCE RÁS moves up a few notches with the news that Poland will be represented by its powerful Beijing Olympics team. Poland now joins Iran, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Netherlands, Norway and Britain in providing fierce competition for the Irish national team, two Irish pro teams and eleven county squads when the big 8 day international race gets underway from Navan in two weeks time.

Przemyslaw Niemiec, Rafal Ratajczyk, Wojciech Dybel, Jaroslaw Dabrowski and Błażej Janiaczyk will travel to Ireland for the May 18 start in Navan and are expected to present an extremely strong challenge for stage victories and overall honours.

Niemiec is, at 28, the oldest member of the Polish lineup. He has ridden with the Amore & Vita and Miche teams, and has taken a number of impressive results in that time. His wins include stages in the Giro del Trentino (2005) and Route du Sud (2006), and a stage victory plus the overall classification in the 2005 Tour of Slovenia. Each are prestigious 2.1-ranked events.

Niemiec also triumphed in the one-day, 1.1-ranked Giro di Toscana in 2006; if he is on that kind of form, FBD Insurance Rás success is very possible.

He will be joined by four strong riders. Ratajczyk is an accomplished track competitor, taking scratch race victories at World Cups held in Manchester (2006 and 2007) and Sydney (2006). The 24 year old has also taken silver and bronze medals at the world championships for the points race and scratch event, respectively.

Dybel (26) is a strong road rider and last year won the Trofeo Franco Balestra/Memorial Giampietro Metelli. He also won the GP Inda/Trofeo Aras Frattini in 2006, and has twice been third in the GP San Giuseppe. All are 1.2-ranked events held in Italy.

Dabrowski (24) has also ridden strongly in Italy, having finished second in the 2007Under 23 Trofeo Matteotti event. Other good results last year are his third placings in the GP Folignano and the Trofeo Salvatore Morucci, both 1.2-ranked events. The team is completed by 25 year old Błażej Janiaczyk

Forty-five years after Zbigniew Glowaty won the 1963 RÁS Poland looks set to claim its second victory with this team which appears to have all the ingredients to out-ride the star-studded field.

The UCI 2.2 event runs from May 18th to 25th and features stage finishes in Ballinamore, Claremorris, Lisdoonvarna, Tralee, Skibbereen, Clonmel, Roundwood and Skerries.


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