A challenging new time trial course and a change to the finish of the final stage in Kilkenny City are the highlights of the 2018 Rás na mBan route announcement made today.
September’s 13th running of the event will follow a similar format to recent years with six stages taking place over five days in and around County Kilkenny.
Ireland’s top international stage race for women again includes four road race stages of varying length and difficulty, a time trial and a circuit race which for a third consecutive year centres on the beautiful city of Kilkenny in Ireland’s Ancient East.
Once again, the route offers a variety of challenges, from testing hilly stages including the stage three summit finish to the Nine Stones on Mount Leinster, to the stage four time trial where riders will ride solo against the watch on a new course at Tullaroan.
The new time trial is 6.5km long, almost half the length of last year’s time trial, though the 2.5% average gradient with stretches of up 10% will prove a difficult challenge for many riders.
Rás na mBan back in Kilkenny
Race Director Valerie Considine believes the 2018 route will challenge the riders and offer an opportunity to further showcase the beauty of Kilkenny City and County.
“The move to Kilkenny two years ago has been overwhelmingly positive for Rás na mBan. The beautiful countryside and wonderful support from Kilkenny makes planning the route an absolute pleasure. We’ve retained the best aspects of the 2017 route and added a new challenge that could alter the character of the fight for overall honours”, says Considine.
“The move to a hilly time trial on day four is a stage we’re really looking forward to. It’s a beautiful setting and a worthy challenge, something that I believe most will enjoy.”
“The stage three hilltop finish on Mount Leinster has become a superb occasion in the cycling calendar and I look forward to seeing many bike fans on the Nine Stones to watch the riders do battle again this year.”
“The city centre circuit has been a highlight of the event over the last couple of years. It’s a thrilling spectacle and it’s particularly gratifying for us to be able to bring top class women’s bike racing to the people in such an iconic setting as Kilkenny Castle.”
“We’ve had wonderful support from Kilkenny County Council and An Garda Síochana throughout the planning of this event and they have helped smooth the not inconsiderable process of bringing top class bike racing to the county. Our major backers continue to make this race possible and it’s gratifying that we have retained the support of so many partners for another year.”
Check rasnamban.com for full route details.