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54th FBD Insurance Rás - 2.2
Ireland, May 21-28, 2006
By Shane Stokes
Let battle commence. What looks like one of the strongest-ever fields for the FBD Insurance Rás will begin eight days of aggressive racing this Sunday when the 2006 edition of the race starts in Tallaght.
The world ranked-event has attracted twelve strong overseas teams, including riders from as far afield as the American and Australian continents. Returning once again is defending champion Chris Newton, the Olympic medallist leading an impressive Great Britain Recycling.co.uk squad. Another very strong challenge is likely to come from the USA-TIAA CREF squad, fronted by 2001 world under 23 time trial champion Danny Pate and former US Postal Service rider Mike Creed. They will be managed by Jonathan Vaughters, a Tour de France stage winner and former teammate to Lance Armstrong.
Also originating from across the Atlantic is the Canada-Team Symmetrics lineup, while Australia-FRF Couriers Caravello similarly have a long way to travel. Several strong squads are coming from mainland Europe, including the Belgium-Sean Kelly Racing Team, which comprises two good Irish riders and three Belgians, the Poland-Legia Bazylisek lineup and Germany-Team Stevens.
The Doncaster Stena Line squad is also likely to play a big part.
Reassuringly, the Irish challenge looks to be a strong one. Irish road race champion David O'Loughlin leads an impressive Grant Thornton Team Ireland squad, and will be joined by Conor Murphy, Paídi O'Brien, Roger Aiken and Ryan Connor. Double winner Ciarán Power is guesting for the Tipperary Dan Morrissey team, while the in-form Paul Healion will lead the Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn Group squad.
Contenders for the county team award include Dublin Usher IRC, Meath MyHome.ie/Cycleways, Cork Team Murray Ford Developments and others.
The race gets under way this Sunday with a mainly flat 121 kilometre stage from Tallaght to Enniscorthy, taking in two category three climbs along the way. The longest stage of 180 kilometres follows on Monday, the riders crossing three categorised ascents between Enniscorthy to Cobh before the final steep uphill rise to the line.
Day three is from Cobh to An Daingean (Dingle) and once again features an uphill finish, plus four category three King of the Mountains primes. The last of these, An Bharog Bheag, is situated just 13 kilometres from the line, providing a possible springboard for a stage-winning attack.
What is probably the toughest stage of the race follows, with the tough roads of Kerry bringing a total of seven categorised climbs. This 150 kilometre leg from An Daingean to Listowel includes the gruelling category one climb of The Maum, plus a very undulating run-in to the finish which should see the peloton split into several distinct groups.
Following a ferry transfer from Kerry to Clare, a flatter stage follows next Thursday with just one climb on the 178 kilometre leg from Kilrush to An Cheathru Rua. The Gaeltacht town is also the setting for the following morning's innovative 24 kilometre team time trial, which is then followed by an 83 kilometre afternoon stage to Westport.
Saturday's flat leg takes the riders 168 fast kilometres to Clara, the race then reaching its climax one day later with a 155 kilometre stage to Skerries. This is a departure from the traditional easier final stage, the four categorised climbs en route meaning the outcome of the race may go right down to the wire.
Recycling.co.uk Grant Thornton 1 Chris Newton (GBr) 6 David O'Loughlin (Irl) 2 Robin Sharman (GBr) 7 Paidi O'Brien (Irl) 3 Kristian House (GBr) 8 Roger Aiken (Irl) 4 Evan Oliphant (GBr) 9 Ryan Connor (Irl) 5 Robert Partridge (GBr) 10 Conor Murphy (Irl) Doncaster Stena Line FRF Couriers 11 Wayne Randle (GBr) 16 Peter McDonald (Aus) 12 Mark Lovatt (GBr) 17 Joshua Marden (Aus) 13 Dieter Droger (GBr) 18 Peter Herzig (Aus) 14 Ashley Brown (GBr) 19 Joe McDonnell (Aus) 15 Gavin Evans (GBr) 20 Cody Stevenson (Aus) M.Donnelly Sean Kelly Symmetrics 21 Jehudi Schoonacker (Bel) 26 Andrew Randell (Can) 22 Tim Cassidy (Irl) 27 Brandon Crichton (Can) 23 Mark Cassidy (Irl) 28 Jeff Sherstobitoff (Can) 24 Kurt Bogaerts (Bel) 29 Brad Fairall (Can) 25 Micheal Concannon (Irl) 30 Will Routley (Can) Stevens Murphy & Gunn/Newlyn Group 31 Johannes Sickmüller (Ger) 36 Simon Kelly (Irl) 32 Florian Schroder (Ger) 37 Paul Healion (Irl) 33 Fabian Brzezinski (Ger) 38 John O'Shea (Irl) 34 Greg Reian (Can) 39 John Dempsey (Irl) 35 Benjamin Hill (Ger) 40 Morgan Fox (Irl) Sparebanken Vest Legia Bazylisek 41 Morten Hegreberg (Nor) 46 Bartlomiej Matysiak (Pol) 42 Kurt Anders Fostervold (Nor) 47 Michal Pawlyta (Pol) 43 Are Andresen (Nor) 48 Lukasz Modzelewski (Pol) 44 Tamas Lengyel (Hun) 49 Jaroslaw Welniak (Pol) 45 Martin Prazdnovsky (Svk) 50 Przemyslaw Pietrzak (Pol) TIAA-CREF Endeavour Cycling 51 Dan Bowman (USA) 56 Isaiah Adams (USA) 52 Danny Pate (USA) 58 David Sachs (USA) 53 Lucas Euser (USA) 59 Josh James (Can) 54 Mike Friedman (USA) 60 Graham Howard (USA) 55 Bryan Smith (USA) Surrey Racing League JE James RT 61 Simon Saunders (GBr) 66 Christopher Belsham (GBr) 62 Toby Neave (GBr) 67 Matthew Melville (GBr) 63 Jaco Ehlers (RSA) 68 Mike Harrison (GBr) 64 Alex Hagman (USA) 69 Peter Hey (GBr) 65 Daniel Duguid (GBr) 70 Llewellyn Byrne (GBr) Murray Ford Develops. Nat. Safety & Training 71 Daniel Lynch (Irl) 76 Brian Murphy (Irl) 72 Denis Lynch (Irl) 77 Eldon Looney (Irl) 73 Michael Hennessey (Irl) 78 Tony Kemp (Irl) 74 Michael Fitzgerald (Irl) 79 Emmett Murphy (Irl) 75 John O'Brien (Irl) 80 Anthony O'Brien (Irl) Biznet Solutions Dundrum Town Ctr. 81 Brendan Kirk (Irl) 86 Donal Byrne (Irl) 82 Stephen McKenna (Irl) 87 David Lane (Irl) 83 Paul Hanna (Irl) 88 David McLoughlin (Irl) 84 Martyn Irvine (Irl) 89 Gary McNulty (Irl) 85 Paul Vaughan (Irl) 90 Myles Kirby (Irl) Whs. All Systems Eurocycles Eurobaby 91 Daire McCaughley (Irl) 96 John-Paul Lyons (Irl) 92 Gordon Tangney (Irl) 97 Noel Moloney (Irl) 93 Brian Taaffe (Irl) 98 Mark McLeavey (Irl) 94 Bryan Keane (Irl) 99 Jason O'Callaghan (Irl) 95 Simon Whelan (Irl) 100 David Rawlins (Irl) IRC Usher Insuls. Velotec.ie 101 Tommy Evans (Irl) 106 Adrian Crowley (Irl) 102 Eoin Whelan (Irl) 107 Keith Griffin (Irl) 103 Mathew Ward (Irl) 108 Phil Maher (Irl) 104 Greg Swinard (Irl) 109 Frank Dunne (Irl) 105 Gary Crory (Irl) 110 Michael O'Reilly (Irl) Earl Of Desmond Murphy Surveys 111 Sean Lacey (Irl) 116 Mick Steed (Irl) 112 Niall Brosnan (Irl) 117 John Lynch (Irl) 113 Vincent Gleeson (Irl) 118 David Peelo (Irl) 114 Padraig Marrey (Irl) 119 Will Byrne (Irl) 115 John McCarthy (Irl) 120 Colm Bracken (Irl) E. Loakman Remax Cúchulainn Crystal 121 Cormac O'Shea (Irl) 126 Karl Dolan (Irl) 122 Seamus Kelly (Irl) 127 Kevin Lynch (Irl) 123 Daire O'Sullivan (Irl) 128 Myles Crory (Irl) 124 Richard Malone (Irl) 129 Sean McGreevy (Irl) 125 F McCormack (Irl) 130 Drew McKinley (Irl) MyHome.ie Cycleways M. Donnelly 131 Aidan Crowley (Irl) 136 Craig Sweetman (Irl) 132 Mehall Fitzgerald (Irl) 137 Simon Mulvany (Irl) 133 Brian Kenneally (Irl) 138 Bill Moore (Irl) 134 Stephen O'Sullivan (Irl) 139 Frank O'Connor (Irl) 135 John Mason (Irl) 140 Peter O'Connor (Irl) Dan Morrissey 141 Tim Barry (Irl) 142 Rory Wyley (Irl) 143 Martin O'Loughlin (Irl) 144 Ray Clarke (Irl) 145 Ciarán Power (Irl)
2005 Chris Newton (GBr) Recycling.co.uk 2004 David McCann (Irl) Thorntons Recycling 2003 Chris Newton (Great Britain) 2002 Ciaran Power (Ireland) 2001 Paul Manning (Great Britain) 2000 Julian Winn (Wales) 1999 Philip Cassidy (Ireland) 1998 Ciaran Power (Ireland) 1997 Andrew Roche (Kerry) 1996 Tommy Evans (Armagh) 1995 Paul McQuaid (Ireland) 1994 Declan Lonergan (Ireland) 1993 Eamonn Byrne (Dublin) 1992 Stephen Spratt (Dublin) 1991 Kevin Kimmage (Meath) 1990 Ian Chivers (Ireland) 1989 Dainis Ozolse (U.S.S.R) 1988 Paul McCormack (Ireland) 1987 Paul McCormack (Longford) 1986 Stephen Spratt (Ireland) 1985 Nicola Kosiakov (U.S.S.R) 1984 Stephen Delaney (Ireland) 1983 Philip Cassidy (Ireland) 1982 Dermot Gilleran (Ireland) 1981 Jamie McGahan (Scotland) 1980 Billy Kerr (Ireland) 1979 Stephen Roche (Ireland) 1978 Seamus Kennedy (Kerry) 1977 Yuri Lavyrushkin (U.S.S.R) 1976 Fons Steuten (Netherlands) 1975 Paddy Flanagan (Kildare) 1974 Peter Doyle (I.C.F) 1973 Mike O'Donoghue (Carlow) 1972 John Mangan (Kerry) 1971 Colm Nulty (Meath) 1970 Alexander Gysiatnikov (USSR) 1969 Brian Connaughton (Meath) 1968 Milan Hrezdira (Czech) 1967 Shay O'Hanlon (Dublin) 1966 Shay O'Hanlon (Dublin) 1965 Shay O'Hanlon (Dublin) 1964 Paddy Flanagan (Kildare) 1963 Zbigniew Glowaty (Poland) 1962 Shay O'Hanlon (Dublin) 1961 Tom Finn (Dublin) 1960 Paddy Flanagan (Kildare) 1959 Ben McKenna (Meath) 1958 Mick Murphy (Kerry) 1957 Frank Ward (Dublin) 1956 Paudie Fitzgerald (Kerry) 1955 Gene Mangan (Kerry) 1954 Joe O'Brien (National C.C) 1953 Colm Cristle (Gate C.C) Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com