Friday 17 August 2018

Cycling history comes to town

Hubert Murphy

Drogheda will play a significant and poignant role in this year's Ras Tailteann, the most prestigious cycling event in the country.

Not only does it start from Bolton Square on Sunday May 20th, but the family of Ras hero Gay Howard will be on hand to drop the flag to start the 66th eight-day classic.

Gay, who died in a farm accident earlier this year, was part and parcel of the Ras for decades and the organisers said it was only fitting that the Howard family play a key part on the day.

This is the first time that Drogheda will stage the opening ceremony,. but has had five stage finishes in previous years.

The teams will gather at Bolton Square on the Sunday morning before making their way to West Street for 12.30pm and then it's off via Donore for 1,200km of action, finishing in Skerries a week later.

And the town of Drogheda can get behind its own team as Team Louth Jons SCME Dimplex will be taking part for the first time since 1984.

Drogheda Wheelers are behind the project and have recruited a couple of riders from Stamullen and one from Waterford for the event.

Niall Craven, Cian Delaney, Arek Klus, Paul Smith and Barry Hughes make up the team under the management of Andrew Watters.

Niall, a former Meath minor GAA star, suffered a bad injury in a race just a few weeks ago but is battling hard to be fully fit for the gruelling test of man, machine and back up team.

12 international teams and 19 from Ireland will be competing in the race.

Mayor Pio Smith attended last week's launch in The Thatch and said it would be an historic occasion for Drogheda and with the Fleadh is something of real note for the town.

Drogheda Independent