Rás na mBan route unveiled: New home and new summit finish

Posted on: May 20th, 2016

The An Post Rás na mBan has a new home , new route and new uphill finish – sounds like a good one (Photo: Rás na mBan – Lorraine O’Sullivan)

 

The route for this year’s An Post Rás na mBan has been unveiled and among the highlights are a hilltop finish on Mount Leinster and a city centre crit in the race’s new home of Kilkenny.

The five-day, six-stage event has been moved to the Leinster city from its base of recent years in Ennis, Co Clare, and it’s hoped the makeover can attract another strong international field.

The 11th edition of the race starts on Wednesday September 7th and concludes the following Sunday, but not before the peloton race over 345 kilometres and some real challenging terrain.

Undoubtedly, the showpiece is Friday’s stage three mountaintop finish on Mount Leinster, a climb often used in the An Post Rás while the Tour of Ireland has been up there.

It’s the highest of the Blackstairs mountains and it’s where RTÉ have their TV transmitter. Other than that, there’s very little else up there aside from an occasional cyclist.

The first few kilometres are gentle but as it climbs it becomes progressively worse until there’s a brief respite.

The last two kilometres are gruelling and to make it to the top in the front will require a superior level of fitness. At eight kilometres and with an average of 4.4%, it’s likely the race will be decided here.

 

The Peleton they make there way over Mount Leinster

Mount Leinster is one of the country’s most beautiful but challenging climbs and has been featured in the An Post Rás and even the Tour of Ireland. This year, the climb has been added into the route for the An Post Rás na mBan. (Picture: Tour of Ireland-INPHO)

 

Wednesday’s opener is flat and fast and at 60 kilometres it should end in a bunch sprint, though there is one climb to get the IVCA Wicklow 200 Queen of the Mountains classification up and running.

Thursday is longer (75 kilometres) and harder, with some sharp climbs and hair-raising descents. Anyone who has ever ridden the Deenside Cup or the Des Hanlon Memorial will be familiar with the area.

Friday is the Queen stage and real order will be put on the general classification but Saturday’s split stages offer somewhat easier racing.

The flat morning time-trial of 11 kilometres will be a chance for those who lost time the day before to claw it back – or for the winner to extend her advantage even more.

Saturday night sees the riders take on a one-hour blast around Kilkenny city over a 2.1-kilometre course.

Again, a bunch sprint is the favoured outcome but if it’s tightly-packed at the head of the standings, a cracking night is in store.

The race concludes on Sunday September 11th with a tough 85 kilometres on rolling roads beginning and ending in Kilkenny.

The big challenge on the final day comes when the riders take on Woodstock Hill, a nasty ramp where the final battle for general classification or king of the mountains honours will unfold.

Race Director Valerie Considine explained the race offers something for everyone.

“Fiona Cooke and Ger Madden have done an amazing job in creating the route from scratch and have come up with something for everyone in the six stages.

“The stage three hilltop finish on Mount Leinster is going to be a real meeting of the overall contenders and I look forward to seeing many bike fans on the Nine Stones to watch the riders do battle.

“By contrast, the city centre circuit race is going to be a thrilling spectacle and it’s particularly gratifying for us to be able to bring top class women’s bike racing to the people in such an iconic setting as Kilkenny Castle.”

Full route details and map links are available here.

 

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