Burns and McIlwaine can take fight to visitors in Rás mBan

Posted on: September 6th, 2016

Claire McIlwaine has been one of the strongest domestic riders this year and can go to the An Post Rás na mBan full of confidence. The Phoenix CC woman is part of an excellent Ulster team and they can have a huge impact on the race. Above (centre) winning the Tommy Givan Memorial in May (Photo: David McVeigh – The Belgian Project)


By Brian Canty

It’s being billed as the hardest edition of the race in years and with a summit finish on top of Mount Leinster on stage three it’s not hard to see why the An Post Rás na mBan has attracted such a massive international field.

Over 120 riders from Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Norway will roll up to the start-line in Kilkenny today for the five-day, six-stage 400 kilometre contest.

Defending champion Stephanie Pohl (South Netherland) is not back but runner-up last year Eileen Roe (Team WNT) is and she will be aiming to go one better than 2015.

And with Irish national road race champion Lydia Boylan on her five-person team she could well be the one to watch.

The Scottish professional, a former British circuit race champion, won last year’s final stage into Ennis and finished just seven seconds down on Pohl so she should be in the running once again.


Eileen Burns in the Tour of Omagh leader’s pink jersey on her way to overall victory. Now she faces Rás na mBan having shown some brilliant form this year (Photo: Paul Carron)


Another who should challenge is talented young Danish rider Joining Emma Norsgaard Jorgensen (Team Rytger).

The national road race champion won the second stage last year on her way to an eventual third place finish as well as the jersey for the Womenscycling.ie young rider jersey.

Her teammate for this week is promising young Irish rider Ciara Doogan.

There are 25 teams in the race representing 13 countries, one of whom is Hazel Magill from South Africa guesting with the GB Cycles squad.

It will be a historic moment for the race when she rolls out as she’ll become the first African rider to ever compete.

Of the home-based riders Claire McIlwaine (Phoenix CC) is one who should challenge for a top 10 on GC.

She leads a strong Ulster line-up that also includes Eileen Burns and former national road race champion Heather Foley.

Scott Orwell Wheelers, TC Racing and De Ronde Van Cork are all sending strong combinations but one rider who can’t make it is Eve McCrystal as she is in Rio de Janeiro at the Paralympics.

Action gets underway today at 6pm with a 60-kilometre opening stage and runs until Sunday.

Tomorrow is a 75-kilometre journey starting and finishing in Kilkenny while Friday’s queen stage is a whopping 112 kilometres, finishing on Mount Leinster.

Saturday is a morning time-trial (11k) and afternoon circuit race while Sunday is an 85-kilometre trek, starting and finishing in Kilkenny.