The famous An Post Rás rolls into Kilkenny on Friday, with the 180 cyclists and their entourage due to travel through several towns including Urlingford, Freshford, Ballyragget, Byrnesgrove, Castlecomer and Coon.
The cyclists will start off in Mitchelstown that morning on the first part of their 154.6-kilometre route. They will finish that evening in Carlow.
The 2013 Rás is the 61st edition of the race, and this year’s route is designed by cyclist Stephen O’ Sullivan. Mr O’ Sullivan is a former stage winner and eighteen-year veteran of the event.
A new aspect of the race for Irish riders will be the addition of a ‘County Rider’ jersey. This will spice up the action between the county teams as they compete to claim the jersey and local glory that goes with it on each day of the race.
Friday’s stage doesn’t present any major difficulties early on, with only the An Post post office sprint at Urlingford (km 77.4) featuring in the first two hours of racing. Things get tougher after the 100-kilometre point, with five climbs rearing up between there and the finish: Byrnesgrove (category 2, km. 108.8), Castlecomer (category 3, km 116.3), the first category wall of Gorteen (km 120.9), and the second category pair of Coan West (km 124.6) and Clongrennan (km 133.5).
The total route covers 1180 kilometres over eight stages. Action got under way last Sunday in Dunboyne, Meath and will eventually finish in Skerries.
Those spectating are asked to follow any instructions or advice given by Gardaí or race marshals. Parents are advised to keep children under supervision as they can become excited by the spectacle of the race.