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Nine Countries To Contest FBD Insurance Rás
By Race Adm.
May 14, 2006

 

A star-studded field of 150 riders from Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Australia, Poland, Norway, Britain and the USA will face the starter when the FBD INSURANCE RÁS 8 Day International Cycle Race gets underway from Tallaght in south Dublin next Sunday, 21st May. Winner in 2003 and again last year Briton Chris Newton will lead the experienced British professional team, Recycling.co.uk in defence of his title, while Irish professional rider, Mayo man David O’Loughlin, home from racing in the USA, will spearhead the Irish national Grant Thornton team.

 

Morgan Fox Team Murphy & Gunn
Current Irish Road Race Champion O’Loughlin showed in 2004 when he finished 3rd overall to team-mate David McCann and Slovenian rider, Walter Bonca, that he possess all the strength, mountain climbing ability and bike-craft to one day become the first west of Ireland man to take number 1 spot in this gruelling event.

 

As well as Britain, Belgium Germany Canada Australia Poland Norway and the USA are represented by professional teams, or in current world cycling parlance, Continental Teams. While not classified as a pro team the Doncaster Stena Line team contains probably more RÁS experienced riders than any other team in the race. The team includes strongman Mark Lovatt who won the coveted King of the Mountains title in last year’s race.

 

One of Ireland’s newest pro squads, Team Murphy & Gunn/Newlyn is set to name its final quintet during the coming week.

 

In addition to the Murphy & Gunn/Newlyn squad Ireland is not short of potential winners. Two-times winner, Ciarán Power, is making a remarkable recovery from surgery and makes no secret of his burning ambition to record a third win. Power will lead the Eireann Dan Morrissey national selection squad of Tim Barry, Rory Wyley, Martin O’Loughlin and Ray Clarke. Power’s teammates sacrificed their chances of glory in the inter-county classifications when it became known a recently introduced UCI rule made it impossible for them to include Power and at the same time remain eligible as a county selection.

 

John O'Shea Team Murphy & Gunn
Another former winner, Tommy Evans, is showing a return to top form and will also be in the reckoning with the support of his Usher Insulation teammates

 

A number of innovations in this year’s route will make for a particularly intriguing 8 days of racing. Less first category mountain climbs in a long time the course is however peppered with tough 2nd and 3rd category climbs with the potential for tearing the field apart on many of the stages. Add in a first time ever individual classification impacting team time trial and a full stage of 155 kilometres, including four KOM climbs, final stage on Sunday 28th May and it becomes obvious that this will be one of the most open, demanding and spectacular competitions in the 54-year history of this great race.

 

In an anti-clockwise course around the country the top class field of international riders will cover 1200 kilometres of mountain climbs, breathtaking descents, Hot Spot Sprints and long, gruelling roads, all culminating in thrilling stage finishes in Enniscorthy, Cobh, An Daingean/Dingle, Listowel, An Cheathru Rua, Westport, Clara, with the grand finale in Skerries on Sunday 28th May.

 

 FBD Insurance sponsor the race, and its financial backing along with the support of the Irish Sports Council makes this popular national, and international, event possible. The race is again on the International Calendar, making it eligible for the awarding of qualification points for Olympic Games and World Cycling Championships.


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