Rás Tailteann Coming To Kerry In May

Rás Tailteann will be coming to Kerry in May.

Stage 3 is to finish in Listowel, and leave the North Kerry town a day later.

Stage 3, Tuesday May 22: Tipperary to Listowel, 140.4 kms: Five years after WorldTour rider Sam Bennett won into Listowel, sprinters may well have another chance to show their speed at the end of this 140.4 kilometre stage. It is bereft of any categorised climbs, with mainly flat roads taking the peloton through towns such as Brooksbridge, Dromkeen, Caherconlish, Crecora, Patrickswell, Kilcoran and Ballybunion prior to a likely bunch finish. Speeds will be high and attacks frequent, with the possibility of wind along the coast potentially complicating things.

Race director Eimear Dignam’s assessment: “This stage is mostly flat. There is nice scenery around the Limerick and North Kerry coastline. We are delighted to be able to go back to Listowel. I think it will probably be a bunch sprint, unless the weather is bad when we come around the coast. If that’s the case, it could be tougher on the riders.”

Stage 4, Wednesday May 23: Listowel to Glengariff, 153 kms:

After the flat roads of stage three, the following day is substantially more difficult. No fewer than eight climbs loom on the 153 kilometres between Listowel and Glengarrif. The first of those, Lacka West, comes just 7.9 kilometres after the start and the category three ascent could provoke early splits.

After that, the riders head on to the Crinny climb (category three, km 28.3), Castleisland, the category three ascent of Farranfore (km 47.3) and then pass through Killarney. From there the peloton will be shaken up by a succession of mountains, starting with the category two trio of Ladies View (km 82.4), Molls Gap (km 87.3) and Garranes (km 117.1), then the gruelling Healy Pass, which comes 127 kilometres after the start and marks the first category one climb of this year’s race.

The slopes are guaranteed to fragment the bunch and cause chaos but, with 25 kilometres remaining from there until the line and only the category three Cooleriagh (km 145.3) interrupting a fast run-in to the finish, there could be a regrouping of sorts.

Race director Eimear Dignam’s assessment: “This is a tough day around Kerry and west Cork. We have two category three climbs early on, followed by the category two climbs to Ladies View and Molls Gap. With the category one Healy Pass following after that and another climb on the run into the finish, I think this will be a really, really difficult stage.”

Returning to the historic Rás Tailteann name following the end of the previous race sponsorship by An Post, the route of Ireland’s toughest annual sporting event was unveiled on Tuesday, with no less than 34 climbs set to slow legs and quicken pulses next May.

Totalling eight days and 1168.7 kilometres in length, the race will begin in Drogheda on May 20th and end in Skerries on May 28th. The route designed once again by Stephen O’Sullivan and assessed by Gerard Campbell will feature four gruelling category one climbs, 10 category two ascents plus 20 third category slopes, and pitch specialist climbers against all-rounders.

The profile is much hillier than recent years, with the 34 climbs considerably more than the 21 in 2015, 25 in 2016 and 21 last year.

Rás Tailteann route 2018 (UCI 2.2 race):

Stage 1, Sunday May 20: Drogheda to Athlone, 136 kms:
Stage 2, Monday May 21: Athlone to Tipperary, 148.7 kms:
Stage 3, Tuesday May 22: Tipperary to Listowel, 140.4 kms:
Stage 4, Wednesday May 23: Listowel to Glengariff, 153 kms:
Stage 5, Thursday May 24: Glengarriff to Mitchelstown, 150.2 kms:
Stage 6, Friday May 25: Mitchelstown to Carlow, 154.6 kms:
Stage 7, Saturday May 26: Carlow to Naas, 141.2 kms:
Stage 8, Sunday May 27: Naas to Skerries, 144.6 kms: