With a little under two months to go until the start of the 2016 An Post Rás, the first two international teams have been unveiled.

An Post Rás Race Director, Tony Campbell has confirmed that the Australian Continental squad Cisco RT and the American CCB International squad will both travel for the prestigious event, which is the toughest Irish cycling race on the calendar.

Cisco RT hails from Brisbane and its riders regularly compete against those from the well-known Drapac Pro Cycling, Avanti and Budget Forklifts squads.

In its tenth year of existence, the team is bringing a squad of seven to eight riders to Europe in early April. They will compete in four 1.2-ranked races in the Netherlands prior to An Post Rás and those events should have the riders in top condition at the start in Dublin Castle.

“The team will have overall general classification goals and this will require some top stage performances,” said team manager Terence Bonner. “We will also either target the sprint or King of the Mountains jersey, depending on how the first couple of stages unfold.”

The final line-up will be confirmed closer to the event, but Bonner named those in the running. These include Tour of Borneo and New Zealand Cycle Classic stage winner Craig Evers, Borneo stage runner-up Thomas Hubbard and Saxon Irvine.

Also under consideration are three others who have shone in the New Zealand Cycle Classic in the past: former race leader Ryan Thomas, 2014 King of the Mountains Scott Thomas and 2016 sprint classification winner Dylan Newbery.

The riders will be guided by Sport Director Peter Zijerveld, who is the head talent coach at the Dutch Olympic Cycling Federation.

The USA CCB International team will also have a strong lineup. Kai Wiggins won the 2015 Fitchburg Criterium and the Fitchburg Longsjo Omnium, while Cory Small rode well in last year’s 2.2-ranked Grand Prix Saguenay in Canada, finishing as sixth Under 23 rider.

Ethan Reynolds won the time trial and took second overall in the 2015 Ster van Limburg, earning a slot on the US national team at the Junior Road World Championships. Noah Granigan was silver medallist in the 2014 US Junior National Championships and won that year’s Beveren-Waas Kermesse, while Tim Mitchell won last year’s Grot Pris Emergo Group Criterium in Zierikzee, the Netherlands.

He also won the road race and time trial at the 2011 Masters’ World Championships.

Mitchell says that the riders will take different approaches in the lead-up to the event, including stints on the US national team for some.

“The team goals are the Under 23 general classification in the An Post Rás, as well as hunting for breakaways and individual stage results,” he states. “We plan to race for these goals in an aggressive manner with the four Under 23 riders we have.

“Kai Wiggins and Cory Small are probably best suited to contest the Under 23 general classification, while Ethan Reynolds and Noah Granigan will have more freedom to go for individual stage results and take some tactical risk with their strategy.”

An Post Rás Race Director, Tony Campbell and his organising team have lined up an impressive selection of foreign teams, details of which will be revealed over the coming weeks. He is looking forward to seeing how the Australia Cisco RT and the USA CCB International squads get on.

“Both teams include some very promising riders and are coming to Ireland with big ambitions. They will undoubtedly add to the excitement of this year’s race.”

Totalling almost 1,240 kilometres, this year’s An Post Rás will roll out from Dublin Castle on Sunday May 22nd, with the venue chosen to mark the 2016 Easter Rising commemorations. The world-ranked event will feature stage finishes in Multyfarnham, Charleville, Dingle, Sneem, Clonakilty, Dungarvan, Baltinglass and Skerries.

It will feature 25 categorised climbs and some very aggressive racing.

According to Bonner, its reputation as a very challenging event is a big reason his Australia Cisco RT squad is taking part.

“We’ve had a few Australian and Kiwi riders do the Rás over the years and the word has come back about how tough it is. This is the main thing attracting us – the test of the Rás on our up and coming talented riders.

“I also have in-laws in Ireland and am personally interested in seeing my team race around my second home.”


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