Race organisers are promising that riders are facing a tougher Rás Tailteann in 2023 as the route for this year’s iconic event are announced today.
The five-day race moves back to its more traditional May date this year with the riders rolling into action in Navan on Wednesday, May 17. And this year’s peloton can expect to be challenged in the hills right from the off with Stage 1 featuring the race's only category 1 climb, with the Wolf Trap coming 20km from the finish in Birr.
Stage 2 will see the peloton racing its way to Ennis before further stage finishes in Castlebar, Monaghan town, and the now traditional finish in Blackrock, Co Louth.
While the Rás is not currently a UCI world ranked event, its return to the racing calendar is hugely important for the domestic scene was well as offering an excellent opportunity for teams from Britain and further afield to get some high-class racing experience.
The race returned last year for the first time since 2018 after financial difficulties following the loss of its title sponsor before being interrupted by the Covid pandemic. Roscommon pocket-rocket Daire Feeley of All Human-Velo Revolution won the event last year to become the first Irish champion since Stephen Gallagher in 2008.
Stage 1: Navan to Birr 154.8km
With both Rás Táilteann and the local Navan Road Club celebrating 70 years of existence in 2023 the race organisers have decided to commence the event in Navan in recognition of the role that local riders have played in the supporting the race since its inception in 1953. The race will travel mostly on flat roads taking in two category 3 climbs within the first 90km. The final part of the stage gets much tougher as the race crests the category 1 Wolf Trap mountain climb 20km from the finish. A fast run-in to Birr via Kinnity concludes the stage. Not a day when the race can be won but a day that could put riders out of contention from the off.
Stage 2: Birr to Ennis (154.5km)
Stage 2 features a tough day in the saddle as the race departs from Birr and makes its way along the rolling roads of North Tipperary, skirting Lough Derg and taking in the category 3 climb in Portroe before crossing the Shannon into Killaloe. The final 50km of the stage could be very telling with three back-to-back category 3 climbs and the category 2 Maghera Mast climb all featuring. A relatively flat final 25km into the finish at Barefield awaits on the outskirts of Ennis town.
Stage 3: Ennis to Castlebar (The Tommy Devereux Stage) (149.3km)
Stage 3 is dedicated to the memory of Tommy Devereux, a Castlebar native and stalwart of Irish cycling and Rás Táilteann who sadly passed away in December 2022.On paper, Stage 3 is a day for the sprinters with mostly fast and flat roads making up the route with two category 3 climbs thrown in for good measure. The route takes in the towns of Ardrahan, Craughwell, Athenry, Tuam and Ballinrobe before making its way into Castlebar for a finish on Lanagh Road.
Stage 4: Charlestown to Monaghan (176km)
The race transfers to Charlestown for Stage 4 depart to start the longest stage of the race. The first half of the stage features mainly flat roads passing through Tulsk, Strokestown and Longford. The race then makes a directional change northwards in Longford which features more difficult roads for the second half of the stage. The undulating roads through Co Cavan where three category 3 climbs are featured are sure to take their toll on the riders before a relatively flat run-in from Clones to Monaghan town. The final twist of stage 4 is the last 300 metres uphill to the finish outside Monaghan Cathedral.
Stage 5: Monaghan-Blackrock (133.4km)
After a ceremonial start in the centre of Monaghan town, the riders will make their way through the towns of Ballybay, Shercock, Kingscourt, Drumconrath, Ardee and Castlebellingham before passing onto a slightly tweaked and extended finishing circuit in Blackrock. The riders will complete four laps of an 11.1km circuit before they become men of the Rás 2023. Stage 5 also features one category 3 climb at Meath Hill en route to Blackrock.