Wednesday 20 March 2019

'We have exhausted all opportunities in relation to sponsorship' - No world-ranked Rás Tailteann will take place in 2019

A general view of the main group during the An Post Rás. Ballina - Ballinamore. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
A general view of the main group during the An Post Rás. Ballina - Ballinamore. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE Newsdesk Newsdesk

The organisers of the Rás Tailteann will not run an eight-day world-ranked race in 2019.

An extensive search for new sponsorship was unsuccessful.

The race, which has been in the calendar since the 2000 editions, is a 2.2 event on the UCI international calendar, earning world-ranked points for those who excel on stages and in the overall classification.

An Post had previously sponsored the event but stepped back from its backing of the race specifically and cycling in general in 2017. The Rás Tailteann took place as usual last year thanks to a reserve fund, but the depletion of that made it vital that new backing was secured for 2019.

The extra requirements under UCI rules have greatly ramped up the budget and the organisers are hoping a 3-4 day event is run instead.

“We have exhausted all opportunities in relation to sponsorship for a UCI race this year,” race director Eimear Dignam said.

“I am extremely disappointed. I have been involved in the race my whole life. But I am satisfied that I explored every opportunity to us to secure a sponsorship. We never envisaged that it would come to an end like this, but hopefully it won’t be an end.

“The 2019 international event will be put on hold with the hopes of coming back stronger in 2020.

“There may be an option there for a three or four day race to be run by a separate organisation committee,” she added.

“It would be a smaller, non-UCI race. Those discussions will be held in the coming weeks.

“Our hopes are that a smaller race will happen in 2019 and then the full international race will come back stronger than ever in 2020.”

Dignam had been talking in recent months to an Irish company about possible sponsorship. No decision has been made as yet by that company but, with time running out and no sign of a commitment in the immediate future, she has accepted that time has run out for this year.

“We couldn’t drag things out for more weeks; we have already waited a long time to try to get something finalised. We are open to continuing those talks, though, and will do what we can to bring back the international event next year.”

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