The Rás Tailteann starts this Sunday, 17 May, and will continue all week. It is a cycling race that takes place in stages, and is open to international professional competitors and Irish amateur cyclists.
|The official start of the 1964 Rás Tailteann|
The first Rás took place in 1953, and was organized by the National Cycling Authority. However, the NCA was an organization very influenced by the Republican movement, which meant many good quality cyclists avoided the event. When the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) banned the NCA from international races, and cyclists from competing in NCA events, it had a further impact on the Rás.
Some very talented Irish cyclists, such as Sé O’Hanlon, Paddy Flanagan and Gene Mangan, were able to use the opportunity provided by the Rás Tailteann to hone their own skills. The Journal.ie had a great article on “5 legends who tell you everything you need to know about the Rás “, featuring these cyclists along with some of their teammates and peers.
|Sé O'Hanlon with his new 10-speed Raleigh 'Gran Sport' bicycle|
14 August 1962
The Irish Photo Archive has many galleries of cyclists competing in the Rás Tailteann over the years, from the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, as well as Sé O’Hanlon being presented with a new bike after another one of his wins.
|The finalists of the 1961 race: 1st T. Finn (centre), 2nd B. McKenna (left), and 3rd S O'Hanlon (right)|
25 June 1961
The Rás Tailteann emerged from the UCI controversy to become an important part of the international cycling calendar in recent years. Cyclists can earn points from the race that count towards qualifying for the Olympics and the World Cycling Championships.
This year’s route will begin in Dunboyne, with stage finishes in Carlow, Tipperary, Bearna, Newport, Ballina, Ballinamore and Drogheda, before the customary finale in Skerries. The course has been designed to start flatter than in previous races, which will allow for more attacking movements by the competitors.
An Post Rás Race Director Tony Campbell said “However it is very rolling terrain and very exposed and there is very little shelter on a lot of stages. The riders are going to have to be careful of winds; if there are any sort of westerly winds, I would say they could be in big trouble. It is going to make for great racing and will also require good bike handling skills.”
Here are the stages per day:
- Stage 1, Sunday May 17: Dunboyne to Carlow (154.4 kilometres)
- Stage 2, Monday May 18: Carlow to Tipperary (137.2 kilometres)
- Stage 3, Tuesday May 19: Tipperary to Bearna (155.9 kilometres)
- Stage 4, Wednesday May 20: Bearna to Newport (155 kilometres)
- Stage 5, Thursday May 21: Newport to Ballina (142.4 kilometres)
- Stage 6, Friday May 22: Ballina to Ballinamore (160.1 kilometres)
- Stage 7, Saturday May 23: Ballinamore to Drogheda (142.4 kilometres)
- Stage 8, Sunday May 24: Drogheda to Skerries (132.6 kilometres)
All photos available @ Irish Photo Archive