An Post postman Keith Lally and model Hannah Devane launch the 2012 Ras
The countdown is underway to the start of the 2012 An Post Rás in Dunboyne. This year is the 60th year of the famous race and teams from all over the world will line up to compete for glory in the gruelling eight day international race. Last year a huge number of Meath locals gathered at the stage start to cheer on the field of riders and Rás organiser Dermot Dignam is hoping for a similar send off this time around.
"The atmosphere at the start of the race in Dunboyne over the last few years has been brilliant. The locals always come out in great numbers to clap the riders and I'm sure this year will be no different. I'm certain we will be treated to a great first day of racing so I can't wait for the action to get started", said Dignam.
The ceremonial start gets underway at 12.30pm and the riders will make their way 147 kilometeres across the country, pushing themselves up two gruelling climbs to the first stage finish that afternoon on Patrick Street, Kilkenny.
Dignam envisages plenty of action on the first day.
"It's definitely it is a bit unusual to have a second category climb on the first day. It's normally flatter than that. Glenmagoo is steady climb but also a tough one. That said, even though it is a second category, the fact that riders are fresh and motivated means that I'd expect that we will see a big bunch sprint into Kilkenny."
Dignam has also called on Meath locals to support the riders as they pass through the county.
"This Rás will definitely be one of the most competitive in recent years and with the high calibre of riders taking part I would encourage local communities, especially schools, to come out and cheer on the peloton as they make their way along the route."
The eight day International cycling road race takes place from May 20th to 27th 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.
For regular updates throughout the 2012 An Post Rás visit www.anpostras.ie
Full route map and stage details:
Stage 1, Sunday May 20: Dunboyne - Kilkenny, 147 kms
Stage 2, Monday May 21: Kilkenny - Gort, 158kms
Stage 3, Tuesday May 22: Gort - Westport, 145kms
Stage 4, Wednesday May 23: Westport - Bundoran, 135kms
Stage 5, Thursday May 24: Bundoran - Buncrana, 149kms
Stage 6, Friday May 25: Buncrana - Killybegs, 134kms
Stage 7, Saturday May 26: Donegal - Cootehill, 161kms
Stage 8, Sunday May 27: Cootehill - Skerries, 139kms