The peloton passes Kilkenny Castle during stage five of last year’s Rás na mBan. The tour comes back to Kilkenny this September. Picture : Lorraine O’Sullivan
An all new time trial around the walls of Kilkenny Castle and a final stage city centre circuit race are among the highlights of the 2022 Rás na mBan route.
Top bike racers from all over the world will return to Kilkenny in the first week of September for the 16th running of an event which attracts Olympians and world championship riders to face the challenging roads of Ireland’s Ancient East.
Ireland’s international stage race for women returns with a familiar format featuring four road race stages of varying length and difficulty, a time trial and a circuit race which for a sixth time centres on the beautiful city of Kilkenny.
The 2022 running of the event begins on Wednesday, September 7 and features six stages over five days of racing which centres around Kilkenny.
The route offers a variety of challenges, from testing hilly stages including the stage three summit finish on The Cut in the Slieve Bloom Mountains in Laois. New to the calendar this year is the stage five time trial on the new Kilkenny Castle course.
For a second year the opening day will see riders race to a stage finish in Callan, a course which incorporates two laps of a 13km finish circuit, offering spectators at the finish line three chances to see the riders on the day.
The other stages cover roads which will be familiar to fans of Rás na mBan from previous years while also introducing new challenges for the riders.
The day two race to Inistioge includes a grippy and spectacular conclusion at Woodstock. Day Three, the Queen Stage, tackles the Slieve Bloom mountains and features a finish in the spectacular surroundings of The Cut following a start in Portlaoise.
Saturday’s race to Piltown mirrors the second stage of the previous two editions of Rás na mBan. The familiar route includes the two laps of the Templeorum circuit including demanding ascents of the Sweep.
The final day of the race brings the riders back to Kilkenny City for two stages centring around Kilkenny Castle.
In the morning the riders will face a 2.5km time trial around the walls of the castle as the specialists against the watch have an opportunity to offset the advantage enjoyed by the climbers on previous stages.
The final stage of the week is the hugely popular circuit race in Kilkenny City centre. The fastest stage of the week, it features 75 minutes of high octane city centre racing after which the champion of Rás na mBan 2022 will be crowned.
“The move to Kilkenny six years ago has been overwhelmingly positive for Rás na mBan and we’re looking forward to another great week of racing through the beautiful countryside in September,” said Race Director Valerie Considine.
“Our all-new second stage finishing in the grounds of Woodstock House in Inistioge will be a unique challenge, one that the mountain goats and sprinters will relish equally,” she added.
“It’s a new destination for us with unexplored challenges and it’s great to be bringing the race to a new audience.
“The city centre circuit has been a highlight of the event over the last few years,” continued Considine. “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.”
See See rasnamban.com for up to date details on stage routes and times.
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