The An Post Ras, which starts in Dunboyne on Sunday May 18th, will feature a Navan Avonmore team for the first time in 12 years.
Navan Road Club members John Kenny, John Murray, Stephen Byrne and Niall Doggett will compete in their first Ras, while guest rider Stuart Cox from Mullingar, will be competing for the fourth time.
This is the fourth year of An Post’s sponsorship of the celebrated Rás Tailteann, which is more commonly known as The Rás. The epic race began in 1953 and has been held every year since. It is one of Ireland’s top sporting events bringing world class sporting action and a significant economic boost to towns and villages nationwide.
The Rás has a worldwide reputation of being a gruelling challenge in the elite, international calendar. The open racing style allows amateur county and club riders to pit themselves against domestic and international professionals.
Team manager P.J Nolan, a veteran of many previous Rasanna, believes that the Navan riders can compete with the best. “Amateur riders can do extraordinary things in the Ras by being smart and getting in the right moves. Stage racing is all about conserving energy, good positioning and saving the really big efforts for the moments when they will be most effective”.
The team have been training hard for the gruelling 8-day event, since early September and recently competed in the 4-day Kerry Group Ras Mumhan.
According to Nolan, “Ras Mumhan was very difficult, not least because every day there was a big climb within the first 20km, which blew the race apart. But I was delighted with how our riders performed, and this will prepare them well for the Ras.”.
Niall Doggett, the youngest rider on the team is competing in his first Ras. “We’re all really looking forward to it, it will be an amazing event. Having P.J. as our manager is a great boost, with his many years of experience at domestic and international level, and his advice will be invaluable”
During each stage, Nolan and his assistant Simon O’Dea will operate out of the team car, which has been sponsored by local business Academy Car Sales.
O’Dea says “The riders don’t have radios in their ears like the professionals do, so the team car is their only link with the manager during the race. From the car, we can provide spare bottles, energy supplies or spare clothing if the weather turns bad, or a wheel change if they puncture. We’re really grateful to Paul Dunne and Academy Cars for providing us with the Volvo for the week”.
Club chairman Matt Nolan is delighted that the club have a team back in the Ras. “We are a racing club with a rich tradition in the Ras going back to the very early days with the likes of Tommy Flanagan and Frank Reilly”