The Cuchulainn Crystal Louth Cycling team will be on the start line for the 2012 An Post Rás this Sunday in Dunboyne to tackle the eight day event which covers 1,200km around the country.
A Louth team returns to the Rás after a five-year absence, with 2006 being the last time the county featured in the event.
The team will be led by Michael Barry whom has had an outstanding start to the season, with top 10 results in the international stage races the Rás Moon in Kerry over the Easter weekend and more recently in the Tour of Ulster.
Barry, originally from Dublin and now based in the barracks in Dundalk, will be riding the event for the first time and could be a dark horse to take a stage win.
Joining Barry on the team is Omeath’s Myles McCorry, who will be lining up for his sixth Rás. McCorry, who showed he has good form with a 5th place in last weekend’s Tour of the Mournes, featured on the Louth team in 2005 and 2006.
Another local man Colm Quinn will be returning to the Rás for a third time, having missed the 2011 race. Ravensdale’s Ray O`Shaughnessy will be racing for the first time and will be boosted by his win at Easter in the Connaught Three Day. Guesting on the team is Dublin based rider Daragh Mortimer, again starting his first Rás.
The team, which will be managed by Dominic O’Brannagain, recently had its first official outing at the Tour of Ulster on the May bank holiday weekend.
The race descended into brutal conditions on the last day with cold, wind and rain seeing over half the field abandon. The event once again hosts a truly international field with 175 starters and no less then five professional UK based teams competing, along with teams from France, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand, Morocco and the USA.
The Louth team is sponsored by Dundalk firm Cuchulainn Crystal, where managing director Karl Dolan was a member of the Louth team in both 2005 and 2006 and even an earlier Louth team in 1992.
The race should really come to life on Thursday and Friday of next week when it hits the hills of Donegal. On Thursday the riders tackle 150km from Bundoran to Buncrana with no less than seven catergoprised climbs along the way.
Friday’s stage is the Queen stage. While only 135km in length, it features four mountain passes, the toughest being the Glengesh Pass, coming at the 100km mark. This climb, en route to Killybegs is often considered the toughest climb in Ireland. The race finishes in Skerries on Sunday May 27.
The club’s mountain bike league had its first round proper on Thursday night in Bellurgan Park, with Conor Kavanagh taking the first win of the series.
Conor led home Michael Wilson, from Colin Clarke. Sandra O`Hagan was first lady home, finishing just outside the top 15.
The FPM Accountants Summer Cycling League was a 10-mile time trial, which also doubled up as the Louth Time Trial Championships.
Gerry McCabe was quickest on the night with a half minute lead over Colm Quinn. Quinn pipped Myles McCorry for the silver by four seconds.
Eve McCrystal was first lead home with a super fast time of 23:56, which actually placed her 9th out of the 60 starters! Celine McPhilips was second, with Bohermeen’s Geraldine Gill in 3rd.
Meanwhile on the women’s road racing front, the club scored another win in the Orwell Wheelers Women’s Lague, with Breda Dawe this time winning the latest round held in Crokagh Park in Dublin on Saturday last.