Opening Rás stage traversing Offaly

THE first stage of the 2011 An Post Rás will go through Offaly as it makes its way from Dunboyne to Portumna.

THE first stage of the 2011 An Post Rás will go through Offaly as it makes its way from Dunboyne to Portumna.

Following the ceremonial set off from Dunboyne at 12.30pm, the peloton will head across the country passing through a number of towns and villages in Offaly in a 148kilometre run to the stage finish later that afternoon.

The first cyclists are expected in Cadamstown around 2.45pm and from there they will head through Kinnetty and onto Birr before the stage finish in Portumna.

It’s just over a month until teams from all over the world, including as far away as New Zealand and Japan, line up in Dunboyne for the start of the 2011 An Post Rás. Last year the field of riders got on their way to a huge roar from the local crowd which had gathered at the start line and along the first stage route, and this year Rás organiser, Dermot Dignam, is hoping for a similar send off. “There was a great atmosphere along the first stage route last year and I’m expecting a big crowd along again this time around to see what promises to be a thrilling first day of racing.” said Dignam. Dignam expects to see plenty of action on the first day.

“It’s the traditional type of opening stage and interesting in that we go from the border of Meath, through Laois and Offaly before finishing in Galway in one big leap. I expect there to be plenty of battles and tactical racing on day one, so hopefully there will be huge support in the many towns along the route again this year.”

“I urge local communities, especially schools, to get out and cheer the riders as they go by. This will be one of the most talented line ups we have ever had on the Rás, so it’s a great opportunity to see potential future stars of the Tour de France racing through the roads of Ireland.”

The eight day International cycling road race takes place from May 22 to 29 and as well as the global feel to the event the emphasis will again be on national, regional and top level sponsored amateur cycling teams.