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CountdownTo A Record FBD Insurance Ras.
By Press Release
May 16, 2005

Chris Newton Winner In 2003

The FBD Insurance Ras 8 Day International cycle Race get underway from Dublin's GPO next Sunday when a record-breaking field of 200 cyclists from Ireland, Estonia, Germany, Czech Republic, Norway, Canada, Netherlands, USA, Britain, Scotland and Wales face the starter in what will be an intriguing battle of stamina, speed and mountain climbing ability before a victor is crowned in the beautiful Phoenix Park on Sunday 29th May.

From the start of racing at the Malahide Roundabout on the Swords by-pass it will be all systems go for the 200 super-fit cyclists in this the 53rd edition of this great international and national event. Due to lead the Irish team is top  professional, former world Junior Champion and Tour de France rider Sligo man Mark Scanlon, ably supported by Stephen Gallagher, Brian Keane Paudie O'Brien and Conor Murphy. However, there is troubling concern about Mark Scanlon as he is undergoing tests for a suspected  infection that may force him to miss the race. Seventeen county teams will also be in the line-up and it is the riders on these teams that male the race a world-renowned highly competitive event, showing scant regard for the big names on the international teams and county riders attack and counter attack resulting in a fiercely fought competition over the 8 days of the race.


In a anti-clockwise course around the centre of the country the top class field, which includes seventeen county teams, will cover eleven hundred kilometres with fiercely contested stage finishes in Emyvale, Tubbercurry, Lisdoonvarna, Templemore, Abbeyleix, Rathdrum, Wicklow Town, and, of course, the Phoenix Park. This will be the first time in the 53 year history of this great event for Emyvale, Templemore, and Rathdrum to experience all the trills, excitement and drama of a stage finish. The colourful spectacle of 200 international cyclists sprinting on the main street for a coveted stage finish victory will be eagerly awaited by the sport-loving people in all of the stage-end towns.

Twentyone major mountain climbs will have a huge bearing on the destination on the final honours. Gradually building in severity from the very first day with the Category 3 ascent of Tully Esker the premier climbs come on stage 5 with The Crag outside Urlingford, The Butts on the Carlow/Kilkenny border. Stage 7 features three premiers on the way to Wicklow town, the tortuous Slieveman up from Glenmalure followed by the Sally Gap and Lugalla. However'

The Challenge facing the Irish contingent is greatly increased this year with the inclusion of six continental (professional) teams and six top of the range teams from the USA.

Norways Sparbanken Vest ProfessionaTeam


Representing the paid ranks will be
 Norway's Sparebanken Vest, Canada's Jet Fuel Coffee, Estonia's Kalve Chocolate, Netherlands B & E Cycling, Elmarco KK Cube from the Czech Republic and the powerful British Recycling.co.uk team.            

The British quintet includes two former winners of the RAS, Paul Manning and Chris Newton, Four other former winners will also be in the line-up, the redoubtable Philip Cassidy who joins his son, Mark, on the Meath cycleways.co team, Tommy Evans riding with his British -based Planet X team, which also includes last year's Points classification winner, the evergreen Malcolm Elliott. Team Wales Stena Line features 2000 winner, Julian Winn, and Andrew Roche will attempt a repeat of his 1997 win riding for the Tipperary worldwide Cycles squad.

The seventeen county teams contain an abundance of talent with a number of riders on the threshold of greatness. Paul Healion, Stephen O'Sullivan Eugene Moriarty, Bill Moore, John Dempsey, Philip Finegan, Denis Lynch and Brian Truman all possess the capabilities of springing a surprise and joining the coveted Ras Winners category.
                                                                                    
The British team Fujibikes will take the place of France's Team EC Raismes which had to cry off because of injury problems to two of their riders.


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