New time trial course for Rás na mBan and change to final stage finish in Kilkenny City

Six stages will take place over five days in and around Kilkenny

Darren Hassett

Reporter:

Darren Hassett

Email:

darren.hassett@kilkennypeople.ie

Kilkenny Kilkenny Kilkenny

Mel Lowther of the Great Britain team on a lone break for several circuits around the centre of Kilkenny City during stage 5 of Ras na mBan last year Pic : Lorraine O'Sullivan

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.
 
The September 13 running of the event will follow a similar format to recent years with six stages taking place over five days in and around 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.

The race concludes on Sunday, September 10, with a tough 88km on rolling roads beginning and ending in Kilkenny at the end of five tough days of racing. 

The big challenge on the final day will come when the riders leave the beautiful village of Inistíoge to take on Woodstock Hill, where the final battle for general classification honours will be joined.

The riders will then race back to Kilkenny for a new approach to the finish line down John Street and Rose Inn Street before swinging left for the short climb to the final finish line in front of Kilkenny Castle.

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.
 
She said: “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.
 
“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."
 
THE ROUTE

Stage 1 (Road Race) Kilkenny - Gowran
The race kicks off on Wednesday 5th September with a 70.1km road race beginning at event headquarters, the Springhill Court Hotel, and finishing for the second time in the picturesque village of Gowran on a mainly flat course including a single hill offering points for the IVCA Wicklow 200 Queen of the Mountains classification.

Stage 1 Route Map: https://ridewithgps.com/r outes/27569409
 
Stage 2 (Road Race) Castlecomer - Castlecomer
Thursday’s second stage is a rolling 75km road race starting and finishing in the pretty village of Castlecomer. Running on roads which will be familiar to riders in the Deenside Cup and Des Hanlon classic races, the race begins in the leafy surroundings of the Discovery Park in Castlecomer.

Stage 2 Route Map: https://ridewithgps.com/r outes/27569464

Stage 3 (Road Race) Kilkenny - Mount Leinster
Friday’s third stage is a repeat of last year’s epic assault on Mount Leinster when wind, rain and the hilly roads served to create big gaps between the riders on general classification.
As last year, the so-called ‘Queen Stage’ is a daunting 112km slog that culminates in the arduous climb of Mount Leinster to the fabled ‘Nine Stones’. It’s a 7.8km ascent at an average gradient of 4.4% to a popular viewing point for cyclists and tourists. A short descent at half way offers brief relief but masks the true challenge of the climb.

Stage 3 Route Map: https://ridewithgps.com/r outes/27569489

Stage 4 (Individual Time Trial) Tullaroan
The following day, Saturday, features two separate stages beginning with a newly minted 6.5km individual time trial stage on a hilly road just in Tullaroan.

Stage 4 Route Map: https://ridewithgps.com/r outes/27569519

Stage 5 (City Centre Criterium) Kilkenny City Centre
On Saturday evening the riders converge on the world famous Kilkenny Castle for a one-hour, high-octane criterium circuit race on a 2.1km lap that proved to be a real hit with the riders and the large and appreciative crowd lining the circuit in the last two editions. It will be the fastest bunch stage of the week and is sure to provide spectacular racing action for the spectators in Kilkenny city centre. It’s a race that will be targeted by the sprinters and will likely play an important part in the destination of the National Dairy Council Points Classification at the end of the week.

Stage 5 Route Map: https://ridewithgps.com/r outes/27569533

Stage 6 (Road Race) Kilkenny - Kilkenny
The race concludes on Sunday September 10th with a tough 88km on rolling roads beginning and ending in Kilkenny at the end of five tough days of racing. The big challenge on the final day will come when the riders leave the beautiful village of Inistíoge to take on Woodstock Hill, where the final battle for general classification honours will be joined.
The riders will then race back to Kilkenny for a new approach to the finish line down John Street and Rose Inn Street before swinging left for the short climb to the final finish line in front of Kilkenny Castle.

Stage 6 Route Map: https://ridewithgps.com/r outes/27569427

Full route details and map links for the 2018 Rás na mBan are available here:- http://www.rasnamban.co m/routes/2018-route/