The 2017 An Post Rás route was announced this morning at the GPO. Returning to Donegal for the first time in five years, the organisers of An Post Rás have unveiled a challenging route. It features several stages of tough climbing, including two of the most difficult ascents in the country – Mamore Gap and Glengesh Pass.
The 65th edition of the race will travel clockwise around Ireland with stage finishes in Longford, Newport, Bundoran, Buncrana, Dungloe, Donegal town and Ardee before the customary finale in Skerries. Starting in the historic settings of Dublin Castle for the second consecutive year, the race will total just under 1,200 kilometres, and will act as a platform for climbers, sprinters and attacking riders to battle it out for the coveted Rás yellow jersey.
As ever, the race will see Ireland’s finest amateur riders compete against top professional teams and seasoned internationals from around the world, making it a thrilling eight-day spectacle.
Announcing the route for the May 21st to 28th event in Dublin’s GPO, An Post Rás Race Director, Tony Campbell believes that the race will be a test to every style of rider.
“Overall, the race is hillier than it has been in these past couple of years but you can expect that when it is in Donegal. I think that it will be very fast in the first three days and I think the Irish boys will be well prepared for the speed. After that, it is in the lap of the Gods for the climbing.”
While recognising that the uphill climbs will be decisive, Campbell also anticipates that fast, aggressive racing should also play a big part in determining the final winner.
“I always say you can design all the circuits you want but it is up to the riders to race it. They make the race, really, and there are some top quality domestic riders out there. The last time we did the same route for the opening stage in to Longford, it was a very fast stage and an Irishman, Conor Dunne, took the spoils. So while a big chunk in the middle of the race is certainly mountainous, there are roads throughout where speed will play a big part.”
Donegal native and former An Post rider Ronan McLaughlin was on hand to launch this year’s route alongside UCD cyclist and 2016 An Post Rás Stage Winner, Eoin Morton. McLaughlin, who came heartbreakingly close in 2012 to winning a stage following an heroic solo ride in to Bundoran, has his sights set on securing that elusive stage win this time around.
“I’m really looking forward to this year’s An Post Rás with five days being spent in my hometown of Donegal. I went very close in Bundoran in 2012 but it just wasn’t to be so the aim of winning a stage in Donegal is still on my mind. The route is definitely challenging on first glance but it has something to suit every rider so it should be a very exciting from a neutrals point of view. It would be great to see more domestic riders, similar to Eoin in 2016, winning a stage again this year. That’s the challenge for us county riders and that’s also the beauty of the Rás.”
Aileen Mooney, Corporate Communications Manager, An Post, pointed to the long relationship between An Post and Ireland’s only UCI ranked race:
“An Post is the leading supporter of cycling in Ireland. For a decade our trusted and recognisable brand has helped raise the profile and standard of the sport, adding to the fabric of Irish life through events like An Post Rás.”
Details of the international teams set to join this year’s An Post Rás will be released over the coming months. The An Post Chain Reaction Sean Kelly Team has already committed to participating.
An Post Rás 2017 (Total: 1199.8 kilometres):
Stage 1, Sunday May 21: Dublin to Longford (146.1 kilometres)
Stage 2, Monday May 22: Longford to Newport (142.9 kilometres)
Stage 3, Tuesday May 23: Newport to Bundoran (149 kilometres)
Stage 4, Wednesday May 24: Bundoran to Buncrana (151.8 kilometres)
Stage 5, Thursday May 25: Buncrana to Dungloe (181.2 kilometres)
Stage 6, Friday May 26: Dungloe to Donegal (132.1 kilometres)
Stage 7, Saturday May 27: Donegal to Ardee (167.3 kilometres)
Stage 8, Sunday May 28: Ardee to Skerries (129.4 kilometres)