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The Rás is on as FBD campaign gets into gear in Dunboyne

FBD RáS race director Dermot Dignam intends to go out in a blaze of glory as the race starts tomorrow in Dunboyne.

For more than three decades he has been the master of ceremonies, but on Sunday week the curtain comes down on a glorious career in the event, now known the world over due to its Union Cycliste status. And this year's revival appears one of the toughest for many a long year.

On paper the competitors look formidable with teams participating from all across the globe.

The distance to be covered is 1,219 kilometres. The 24 category climbs will certainly tell a tale, but the one climb that stands out is Seskin Hill outside Carrick-on-Suir.

Rumour has it that legendary rider Sean Kelly travelled this way on his journey to school. If it's true, it certainly added toughness to the all-time great of Irish cycling.

Dignam said: "Normally, it is a good all rounder that does the business in the Rás and I don't see any obvious reason why it will not follow this time around."

Over the last two Sundays, Wicklow has provided two of the toughest single-day races on the calendar. A fortnight ago, it was the Shay Elliott Memorial and last Sunday it was the Noel Hammond. The Elliott turned out to be a whitewash for the locals, with the Rapha Condor team occupying the three podium placings.

Last Sunday, the locals were to the fore with Paul Griffin getting his first win of the season. And, who knows, maybe the genial Kerryman will do the business on this penultimate stage in the Rás, which finishes in Kilcullen.