Rás Tailteann – 2018 Stage 1 to Finish in Athlone
Shannonside CC Press Release 14-02-2018
Shannonside Cycling Club is delighted to announce that the first stage of the prestigious Rás Tailteann will finish in Athlone on Sunday May 20th. The club has been successful in attracting the race to Athlone with the support of Cllr. Ailish McManus and the Athlone Municipal District Council in bidding for this event.
Stage 1 will start in Drogheda and finish 136kms later on the Accommodation Road in Athlone, at circa 3.15pm, beside the front gates of Custume Barracks. Stage 2 will depart Athlone at 11am on the Monday for a 150km stage to Tipperary Town. The Rás is in existence since 1953 and while it has passed through or near Athlone on many occasions this will only be the third ever stage finish to be hosted in the town.
Interestingly, Athlone has a link to the first ever Rás Tailteann from 1953, as Kildare native and soon to be adopted Athlone man, Kerry Sloane actually finished 3rd overall on general classification while riding for the Kildare team. Indeed, Sloane started the Rás at least five times and spent many years involved in the background of the race with various committees involved in the development of cycling in Ireland. In 1954 Sloane rode for the Army CC team but another subsequent Athlone settler Terry Carmody stole the limelight while competing for his native Kerry. Carmody won the 208km stage 3 from Cork to Tralee.
The first stage to finish in Athlone was in the second year of the Rás in 1954 when a Meath man T. Flanagan won the 93km stage 5B that started in Galway. The riders had completed a 64km individual time trial that morning in Galway for stage 5A. Stage 6 of the race departed Athlone for Armagh the following day which was a 170km stage.
The second coming of the Rás to Athlone was thirty-one years later in 1985 with stage 5 that started 150km away in Enniskillen. This was a year of dominance by the USSR team and it was a Russian V. Zveriuk who was the stage winner on this occasion. Stage 6 left Athlone for the 184km trip to Kilkee.
Two of the five-person local organising committee, Morgan Fox & Jim Maguire, have competed in the Rás on numerous occasions. Other locals to have featured are Morgan’s brother Keith and Mark Nestor. Morgan Fox will have a major interest in the 2018 Rás as he will be Director Sportive for his own team Viner-Caremark-Pactimo. Hopefully the stage 1 win will be orchestrated by the local former professional. Shannonside CC members Steve Digby, Phillip Hayes and Gordon Brett make up the rest of the local organising committee that will liaise with the Rás organisers.
Chair of the local organising committee, Gordon Brett, stated that, ‘Shannonside CC is very proud to host a stage of the Rás in 2018. We have been far too long waiting for the race to return to Athlone and we believe that we are set up for what promises to be a fast flat stage that will culminate in a spectacular sprint finish along the Shannon in Athlone’.
The Chairman of Shannonside CC, Jim Maguire said, ‘We acknowledge the support of Cllr Ailish McManus, Barry Keogh and Athlone Town Council Municipal area in supporting this venture. A Rás finish will cause the absolute minimum of traffic distraction on the day of the event and bring over five hundred riders and support staff to stay in the town on the Sunday night. Hopefully the Rás will come to Athlone on a more regular basis into the future’.
For further information, contact:
Local Organising Committee Chair: Gordon Brett 087-9248139
Shannonside CC Chairman: Jim Maguire 086-1985956
LOC Committee Member & Viner-Caremark-Pactimo Team Director Sportive: Morgan Fox 086-0656508