How has the Ras changed on the past twelve years since I was on it last.
Technically the race has really moved with the times.
The communication system is very good with the radio system really efficient with the results on the web within an hour of the finish-this is really impressive considering the complexity of the results.
The racing is faster than I remember with some very high speeds and selections made such as the day out of Cahirciveen where the leaders climbed an 8 kilometre Cat 2 climb at 40 kilometres per hour on the tunnel road.
This was the biggest mistake of the race where the New Zealand team went too fast and were outfoxed by the British and Austrians.
The non appearance of an Irish team is a pity however with the new UCI rules it means that it is virtually impossible to find non contracted Irish riders who would be able to compete against the Professional teams.
A contracted rider on a continental or Pro Continental team cannot represent another team if their own team is entered in the race so this would rule out the likes of Matt Brammieir, Conor McConvey, Sean Downey, Jack WIlson, Ryan Mullen, Conor Dunne, Philip Lavery and Marcus Christie if Baku or An Post were riding the race.
There is limited point in sending a bunch of young 19 year olds to get outgunned by experienced Pros.
Race DIrector Tomy Campbell has achieved a good balance of International teams and the racing is at a high level so where does the County rider fit in to the race.
Well it is totally right that cat 3 riders are not allowed in the race because riders need to be at least cat 2 before they are ready to ride the Ras in a meaningful way.
This was illustrated by the fact that only 3 riders were eliminated for being outside the time limit of 20% this year versus over /0 riders going out last year.
So is the Ras as relevant for Irish domestic cyclists as it was in the past when there were 150 Irish riders making up 75% of the field versus now when there are 85 riders making up less than half the field.
I would say yes because we are very fortunate if not unique in Europe to have domestic rider access to a world level event.
This is a great opportunity for Irish based to race against riders who have ridden the top races like the Tour de France.
If a good first or second cat rider prepares properly and is lucky enough to stay healthy and not crash then they can get through the Ras having being in the racing group for most of the week.
Looking at the week riders like Damien Shaw, Brian McCrystal, Mark Dowling, Ian Richardson, Eoin Morton, Fraser Duncan, Sean Lacey and others rode well at a high level and if they had a constant level of racing at this level they would be very competitive.
The route every year is spectacular and well thought out and the sight of a number of foreign teams clambering around the rocks at the ferry name hotel in Caherdaniel showed that they were in awe at Ireland’s natural beauty.
So what would I change about the Ras in an ideal world?
I would love to see the race take place in July, this would give the domestic riders longer to prepare and help the Irish calendar by having time for longer events and more domestic stage races but this may not be possible because of event clashes and high season hotel availability.
More circuit finishes would be a real crowd puller as in Skerries but might be logistically very problematic and unpopular with some riders.
Overall the Ras is a unique iconic and wonderful event and has a unique and legendary status in Irish sport-well done to all involved