Stamullen Road Club chairman Gay Howard (left) with Colin Robinson who will be riding for Meath in the Rás.
Dunboyne will once again be the focus of attention next Sunday for cycling enthusiasts when the 2012 An Post Rás will start from the Meath town on the 60th anniversary of the race.
Local attention will focus on the three Meath teams and a team from Louth will also feature for the first time in many years.
Dunboyne Cycling Club will host the start of the Rás for the third successive year and the venue has proven to be an outstanding success for both competitors and spectators alike. The flag will be dropped at 12.30 and the 175 riders will first complete a neutralised lap before racing proper will get underway from outside the GAA ground.
There will be an international flavour as teams from all over the world will line up to compete for glory in the gruelling eight-day international race that will finish on Sunday 27th May.
Twelve months ago a huge number of enthusiasts gathered at the stage start to cheer on the 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 and I'm sure this year will be no different," commented Dignam. "There are some very strong riders from Norway, Denmark and Morocco," said Dignam.
"I think they will present a very impressive line up for this year's race. There will be a very worthy final winner," he added.
The ceremonial start will get underway at 12.30 and the riders will then make their way on the 147-kilometre trip to Kilkenny.
The route from Dunboyne will be challenging and Dignam envisages plenty of action on the first day that will feature a major climb for the cyclists.
"It's definitely a bit unusual to have a second category climb on the first day, it's normally flatter than that, Glenmagoo is a steady climb, but also a tough one," added Dignam.
"The fact that riders are fresh and motivated means that I'd expect that we will see a big bunch sprint into Kilkenny.
"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 cyclists as they make their way along the route," he added.
The race will pass through Meath on the way to the finish at Skerries on Sunday 27th May with the start in Cootehill.
SUNDAY 20th MAY STAGE ONE
Dunboyne - Kilkenny (147kms): depart Dunboyne 12.30; arrive at (times approximate): Garadice, 13.07; Baltreacy Cross, 13.30; Hill of Allen, 13.58; Kilmead, 14.36; Glenmagoo,15.37; Dunmore, 16.06; Kilkenny, 16.18.
SUNDAY 27th MAY STAGE EIGHT
Cootehill - Skerries (139kms): depart Cootehill 12.0; Shercock, 12.15; Kingscourt, 1.30; Nobber, 12.45; Wilkinstown, 13.00; Gormanlough, 13.05; Slane, 13.17; Balrath cross, 13.32; Kilmoon cross, 13.40; Pluckhimin, Garristown, Naul, Balrothery, Cross of the Cage, Skerries, Black Hills, finish at Skerries, 14.50.
For regular updates throughout the 2012 An Post Rás visit www.anpostras.ie
See this week's Meath Chronicle for more details