The much-anticipated return to the Irish Cycling calendar of the Rás Tailteann after a year’s absence in 2019 took another step forward with the announcement of the route of the 2020 Rás Tailteann today.
The 67th edition of the race will travel clockwise around Ireland with stage finishes in Horse and Jockey, Castleisland, Lisdoonvarna, Kilbeggan, before starting the final stage in Kinnegad to the finishing circuit in seaside town of Blackrock, Co. Louth. The new 5-day event will cover 758km with 7 categorised climbs which will act as a platform for attacking riders to battle it out for the coveted Rás yellow jersey.
Cáirde Rás Tailteann, the new committee established to run the new look Rás Tailteann have also announced that Eugene Moriarty from the group will be the Race Director for the 2020 event. Eugene who hails from Kerry, is a well-known figure from past Rás Tailteann believes that the 2020 route will make for some interesting racing. With no major climbs in this year’s event, it will make for open racing in which Ireland’s finest amateur riders will compete against at least eight International teams.
Eugene went on to say “the route expertly designed by Ger Campbell, will allow the riders to race every day, with undulating roads and deliberately stays away from multiple big first category mountains of recent editions, this will open up the race for aggressive racing”
Team registration and entry is expected to open before the end of March via the website and this will be announced nearer the time.
Teams will comprise of 5 riders as in the past. However, in addition for 2020, teams will be allowed to submit up to a maximum of two A3 riders, to compliment A1 and A2 riders. However, the organisers recommend that any A3 riders intending to race should be competing in and completing in either the Kerry Group Rás Mumhan/Tour of the North and/or Tour of Ulster over Easter and May bank holiday weekends.
Final decisions on entries will remain with the organisers.
Detailed Route Analysis:
Stage 1 Dublin to Horse and Jockey – 140.1 kilometres
After a ceremonial start in Dublin, the start proper will be in Jobstown Tallaght on the N81 and will ramp up straight away over the Embankment and make its way through Blessington, Dunlavin and Athy. The first climb of the race comes at 75.5km, the Glosna Cat 3 KOM before dropping into Castlecomer. The riders will then attack the 4km Cat 2 climb out of Castlecomer at 93.3km which will be another sting in the tail.
The race then continues through Ballyragget, Freshford and Urlingford, with a fast and flat run in to the finish in the well known village of Horse and Jockey. There will be Hot Spot sprints en-route in Blessington, Athy and Urlingford for vital bonus seconds.
Stage 2 Horse and Jockey to Castleisland – 154.8 kilometres
After a neutralised section which will take the race through Thurles it’s on to Dundrum, Tipperary Town, Kilmallock, Charleville and on to the Cat 3 climb at Freemount at 99km.
Continuing through Newmarket and Ballydesmond, the race will then enter Castleisland where the riders will start a 10km finishing loop which will take in the Cat 2 climb of Crags Cave. This will offer a springboard for stage victory into Castleisland and where the overall contenders will show their form in the yellow jersey competition.
Stage 3 Castleisland to Lisdoonvarna – 173.8 kilometres
The longest stage of the race at over 170km. The early part of the stage will be on mostly fast flat roads through Abbeyfeale and Templeglantine, up along the Shannon through Limerick city and on to Ennis.
The riders will then head out into the rugged Clare countryside through Corofin and at 140km take on the hard wide open roads of the beautiful karst landscape of the Burren. Similar to the previous day, the riders will tackle the Cat 2 ascent of the Corkscrew KOH, just 10km from the finish. With over 150km of racing in their legs at that stage, the climb could again play a big part in the race for the coveted yellow jersey.
Stage 4 Castleisland to Kilbeggan – 154.1 kilometres
A mostly flat stage which will take the riders from Clare all the way to the midlands town of Kilbeggan in Westmeath. This is the first time in the long history of the Rás that Kilbeggan will host a stage end.
The first 40km will take the riders across narrow roads through the Burren and on to Gort, Loughrea and Athlone. On paper a day for the sprinters but the Rás has a habit of throwing up the unexpected on stages like this.
Stage 5 Kinnegad to Blackrock, Louth – 135.3 kilometres
For the final stage the race transfers to Kinnegad for the start heading east to “the Wee County” of County Louth and to the seaside village of Blackrock.
The race travels through Trim and Navan and onto Slane where they will face the Cat 3 climb in Slane at 54km and into Co Louth for another Cat 3 climb in Collon at 63km. From there the riders will travel on to the beautiful seaside village of Blackrock where the riders will arrive after 95km of racing.
They will then go on to take in 4 laps of a technical finishing circuit of 10km. This will be a stage for spectators, where they will get to witness multiple times, the exciting final hours racing of the 2020 edition of the Rás.
Back in 2018 Luc Bugter seized the opportunity in dramatic fashion on the final lap in Skerries to take the final yellow jersey in the last moments of the race. The 2020 event could go down to the wire in a similar fashion.
Rás Tailteann 2020 (Total: 758.1 kilometres)
Stage 1, Wednesday June 10: Dublin to Horse and Jockey (140.1 kilometres)
Stage 2, Thursday June 11: Horse and Jockey – Castleisland (154.8 kilometres)
Stage 3, Friday June 12: Castleisland to Lisdoonvarna (173.8 kilometres)
Stage 4, Saturday June 13: Lisdoonvarna to Kilbeggan (154.1 kilometres)
Stage 5, Sunday June 14: Kinnegad to Blackrock (135.3 kilometres)