Riders from 18 nations are getting set to descend on Kilkenny for Ireland’s top international bike race for women, An Post Rás na mBan.
Kilkenny will play host to the 12th edition of the five-day international race for the second successive year early next month with European and national champions set to pepper the all-star line-up.
Top riders from all over Europe, the US, Australia, the Middle East and Ireland will gather for the highlight of the Irish cycle racing season as elite bike racers bid to win the title of An Post Rás na mBan champion over a series of six stages from Wednesday 6th to Sunday 10th September.
The spike in popularity enjoyed by the elite multi-day international race road race can be attributed in large part to the move to Kilkenny last year, a move that proved won universal approval from fans, riders and race organisers.
This year’s event includes six separate stages in five days including the hugely popular Kilkenny City Centre Circuit race, an hour-long speedfest with the riders racing around short laps starting and finishing at Kilkenny Castle.
Ireland’s double national road race champion Lydia Boylan is a full-time professional racer with the UK based WNT team and Lydia is back this year to try to go one better than her fine second place finish to Denmark’s Rikke Lonne in last year’s An Post Rás na mBan.
Boylan joined David Fitzgerald, Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council, at Kilkenny Castle recently to announce details of the race which gets under way in Kilkenny on Wednesday 6th September.
That first day road stage finishes in Gowran after 70km.
Day two is a road race starting at the Discovery Park in Castlecomer and finishing back in Castlecomer village after 75km.
The 112km third stage on Friday features the daunting ascent to the nine stones on Mount Leinster, a stage that proved decisive 12 months ago.
Saturday morning begins with a 11km solo time trial against the watch beginning and ending outside Kilkenny Rugby Club.
The evening 40km circuit race will be, for many, the highlight of the week, with fast bunch racing for an hour around a closed road circuit in Kilkenny City Centre.
Sunday’s final road race will end with the riders racing across the St Francis Bridge and along the Medieval Mile where the 2017 An Post Rás na mBan Champion will receive her final winner’s jersey in front of Kilkenny Castle.