Rás to take the high road in 2018
It may be Pancake Tuesday, but the route for the 2018 Rás Tailteann will be anything but pancake flat.
The eight-day race, which has reverted to its old title following the end of An Post's sponsorship, will be 1168.7km in length, starting in Drogheda on May 20 and ending at its now traditional finish in Skerries on May 28.
The route will feature four grueling first category climbs on a much hillier profile than in recent years, with 34 climbs compared to the 21 in 2017. From Drogheda, Stage 1 will travel south west to the finish-line in Athlone, with further stage finishes in Tipperary, Listowel, Glengarriff, Mitchelstown, Carlow, Nass and Skerries
Stage 4 looks particularly grueling, with eight climbs along the 153km route between Listowel and Glengarriff including the second category Ladies View, Molls Gap and Garranes, plus the first category Healy Pass. However, Wicklow may be the scene of the final shake-up on the penultimate day with another eight climbs including the Category 1 Drumgoff and Wicklow Gap on the 141km leg from Carlow to Naas.
“For the most part, there are a lot of hills, but there are an awful lot of very fast roads and very
undulating roads on a lot of the stages. I think it is a mix straight across the board, it varies from stage one to stage eight, from hills to fast days,” says the new race director Eimear Dignam, the daughter of the former race organiser Dermot Dignam.
“It is going to suit somebody who is comfortable in the mountains and also comfortable on the fast
roads. Those category one climbs are going to really test each rider’s climbing abilities. That is especially the case when the climbs ramp up on stage four, just under halfway through the week, and also when they appear on the penultimate day.”
Rás Tailteann route 2018 (UCI 2.2 race)
Stage 1, Sunday May 20: Drogheda to Athlone, 136km.
Stage 2, Monday May 21: Athlone to Tipperary, 148.7km.
Stage 3, Tuesday May 22: Tipperary to Listowel, 140.4km.
Stage 4, Wednesday May 23: Listowel to Glengariff, 153km.
Stage 5, Thursday May 24: Glengarriff to Mitchelstown, 150.2km.
Stage 6, Friday May 25: Mitchelstown to Carlow, 154.6km.
Stage 7, Saturday May 26: Carlow to Naas, 141.2km.
Stage 8, Sunday May 27: Naas to Skerries, 144.6km.