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57th FBD Insurance Rás - 2.2
Ireland, May 17-24, 2009
Hailing this year's foreign line-up as perhaps the most experienced to take part in the FBD RÁS, race organiser Dermot Dignam has said that it's all systems go for a gripping edition of the round-Ireland tour, which begins in Kilcullen on Sunday.
This year's Irish challenge is a blend of youth and experience. The national team's charge is led by 2004 victor David McCann, who is joined on the Irish team by Tour of the North winner Martyn Irvine, the eighteen year old Tour of Ulster victor Sean Downey, Paul Healion and Stephen Barrett.
2008 race winner Stephen Gallagher will miss the event this time round but his An Post M. Donnelly Grant Thornton Sean Kelly team has gathered a very strong line-up in its bid to win the race for the second year running. David O'Loughlin is back racing on the road following excellent silver and bronze medals in recent track World Cup events, and will be joined by strong Irish talents Paídi O'Brien and Mark Cassidy. O'Brien was second in last year's race while Cassidy held the race lead before crashing out. The team is completed by strong Belgians Nico Eeckhout, a former national champion who has taken several wins this year, and Benny de Schrooder.
Other ones to watch include Stephen Halpin and Ciaran Cassidy (Ireland Development U23), Brian Kenneally (Meath Engraveit.ie/BDBC) and Paul Griffin (Kerry Total Cleaning Supplies).
Intimidating foreign challenge
They will all be up against a very impressive international field. Best known are the aforementioned Tour stage winners Jaan Kirsipuu and Leon Van Bon, who are leading the charge for the Norway-Giant Veoila and China-Trek Marco Polo teams respectively, as well as the highly experienced former Belgian time trial champion Bert Roesems (Australia-Cinelli Down Under).
Past Olympic pursuit team time trial gold medallist Luke Roberts will head the Germany-Kuota Indeland team, while 2004 world under 23 championship bronze medallist Mads Christensen will spearhead the Denmark - Designa Køkken challenge.
Several British riders are almost guaranteed to shine. World track championship gold medallist Chris Newton and Kristian House – who between them have won three Rasanna – head a very dangerous Britain-Rapha Condor team, and are joined by 2008 stage winner and race leader Simon Richardson. Their compatriot Russell Downing (Britain-Candi TV – Marshall's Pasta) highlighted his strong form by winning last weekend's Lincoln GP, and heads to the FBD RÁS determined to improve on his second overall in last year's Tour of Ireland. Rob Partridge (Britain-Halfords Bike Hut) also wants to improve on a past Irish performance, having finished third in last year's FBD RÁS.
Other strong international teams include the Greece-Heraklion Nessebar and Austria-Arbo KTM Junkers teams, who feature a number of good riders gunning to leave their mark on the race.
Testing varied route
The 2009 edition of the race is 1289 kilometres in length and features twenty categorised climbs. Running clockwise in direction, it begins this Sunday with a 125 kilometre race from Kilcullen to Wexford, and features a King of the Mountains climb at Knocknacree plus bonus sprints at Tullow and Bunclody.
Stage two is both hillier and longer, extending 178 kilometres from Wexford to Cobh, and passing through New Ross, Waterford and skirting Dungarvan. The riders will scale the category two climb of The Sweep plus the third category ascents of Glenmore and Youghal en route to a challenging uphill sprint to the line.
Day three is the longest of the race, clocking up a whopping 189 kilometres between Cobh and Cahirciveen, and may well be the toughest. The category three Coolavokig ascent is followed by the category one climbs of The Coom and Coomakista and, with the latter just 22 kilometres from the finish, should cause a real shakeup in the general classification.
Stage four is another very hilly affair, with the 178 kilometre slog including category three climbs at An Draighneain, Anascaul, Ballintaggart, Garrai na dTor, and An Draighneain, plus the category one ascent of the Conor Pass. It finishes with an uphill sprint into Killorglin, where large crowds are guaranteed.
The next day's stage runs 155 kilometres and features the category three climbs at Glansharoon and Barnagh Gap early on, before a fast, flat second half through Ballina and Killaloe and on to the uphill sprint in Scariff. Sprinters are also favoured on Friday's 159 kilometre stage to Castlebar, as the category three Lecarrow and Killanena climbs come shortly after the start in Scariff. However it's certain that breakaway riders will try to foil the gallopers and slip away early on, setting the scene for a gripping pursuit match in the final hour.
More breaks are guaranteed on the penultimate day, a flat, fast 150 kilometre route to Clara. The race then reaches its climax on Sunday May 24th with a 155 kilometre leg from Clara to Skerries. It features four category three climbs, namely Pluckhimin, Cross of the Cage and two ascents of the Black Hills.
The stage includes two laps of a tough finishing circuit in Skerries and, as was the case in the past three editions of the race, huge crowds are expected there, providing a rousing finale to what should be a tense, exciting FBD RÁS.
An Post - Sean Kelly Team Irish National Team 1 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) 6 David McCann (Irl) 2 Paidi O'Brien (Irl) 7 Paul Healion (Irl) 3 Mark Cassidy (Irl) 8 Martyn Irvine (Irl) 4 David O'Loughlin (Irl) 9 Seán Downey (Irl) 5 Benny De Schrooder (Bel) 10 Stephen Barrett (Irl) Ireland Development U23 Cinelli - Down Under 11 Stephen Halpin (Irl) 16 Peter Ronsse (Bel) 12 Ciaran Cassidy (Irl) 17 Bert Roesems (Bel) 13 Urban Monks (Irl) 18 Nicholas Walker (Aus) 14 Aaron Buggle (Irl) 19 Logan Dennis Hutchings (NZl) 15 Adam Armstrong (Irl) 20 Sven De Weerdt (Bel) ARBÖ - KTM - Junkers Trek - Marco Polo Cycling Team 21 Hannes Grundlinger (Aut) 26 Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) 22 Jan Barta (Cze) 27 Jacobus Venter (RSA) 23 Stefan Poll (Aut) 28 Leon Van Bon (Ned) 24 Josef Kugler (Aut) 29 James Spragg (GBr) 25 Lukas Winter (Aut) 30 Eric Van De Meent (Ned) Team Designa Kokken Heraklion-Nessebar - Kastro 31 Mads Christensen (Den) 36 Spas Gyurov (Bul) 32 Laurent Didier (Lux) 37 Bogdan Stoytchev (Bul) 33 Morten Kruse Brink (Den) 38 Georgi Petrov Georgiev (Bul) 34 Kasper Jebjerg (Den) 39 Martin Grashev (Bul) 35 40 Ivaïlo Gabrovski (Bul) Team Kuota - Indeland Team Giant-Veoila 41 Stefan Ganser (Ger) 46 Ole Jogen Jenson (Nor) 42 Björn Glasner (Ger) 47 Joachim Pettersen (Nor) 43 Luke Roberts (Aus) 48 Rune Jogert (Nor) 44 Joachim Tolles (Ger) 49 Espen Jogert (Nor) 45 Alexander Gottfried (Ger) 50 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Rapha Condor Team Halfords Bike Hut 51 Chris Newton (GBr) 56 Ian Bibby (GBr) 52 Darren Lapthorne (Aus) 57 David Fletcher (GBr) 53 Kristian House (GBr) 58 Mark McNally (GBr) 54 Simon Richardson (GBr) 59 Rob Partridge (GBr) 55 Tom Southam (GBr) 60 Ian Wilkinson (GBr) Candi TV - Pinarello RT Surrey Racing League 61 Russell Downing (GBr) 66 Chris McNamara (GBr) 62 Peter Williams (GBr) 67 Steve Calland (GBr) 63 Andrew Roche (Irl) 68 Richard Hoult (GBr) 64 Dale Appleby (GBr) 69 John Veness (GBr) 65 James Sampson (GBr) 70 John Heaton-Armstrong (GBr) Team KuK Kinesis Bikes BC East Midlands 71 James Moss (GBr) 76 Llewey Byrne (GBr) 72 Matthew Kipling (GBr) 77 Daniel Drake (GBr) 73 Steve Lampier (GBr) 78 Thomas Kirk (GBr) 74 James Stewart (GBr) 79 Christopher Prior (GBr) 75 Robert Wardell (GBr) 80 Gareth Williams (GBr) Sigmasport/Spelialized/Sportful Newry Whs. CC 81 Matthew Stephens (GBr) 86 Mark McKinley (Irl) 82 Kit Kilham (GBr) 87 Drew McKinley (Irl) 83 Tom Last (GBr) 88 Sean McGreevy (Irl) 84 James Wlliamson (GBr) 89 Barry Monaghan (Irl) 85 Wouter Sybrandy (GBr) 90 Colm Quinn (Irl) Zilcom-South Dublin IRC Ushers Insulations 91 Mike Reddan (Irl) 96 Neil Delahaye (Irl) 92 Frazer Duncan (Irl) 97 Peter Hawkins (Irl) 93 Paul O'Keefe (Irl) 98 Simon Kelly (Irl) 94 Andrew McQuaid (Irl) 99 Derek Burke (Irl) 95 Mark Dowling (Irl) 100 Conor Murphy (Irl) DTC Orwell Wheelers Eurocycles 101 Stephen Surdival (Irl) 106 Seán Lacey (Irl) 102 Shane Hurley (Irl) 107 Michael Butler (Irl) 103 Graham Hurley (Irl) 108 Michael Fitzgerald (Irl) 104 Odhran Connors (Irl) 109 Cathal McCarthy (Irl) 105 Philip Finegan (Irl) 110 Conor McAllister (Irl) KTM Winning Solutions Total Cleaning Supplies 111 116 Paul Griffin (Irl) 112 Richard McCauley (Irl) 117 Niall Brosnan (Irl) 113 Dylan Rafter (Irl) 118 Brendan Lacey (Irl) 114 Philip Lavery (Irl) 119 Michael Concannon (Irl) 115 Adrian Hedderman (Irl) 120 Ray Clarke (Irl) Murphy Surveys Newbridge Projector World 121 Colm Bracken (Irl) 126 Richard Malone (Irl) 122 David Peelo (Irl) 127 Michael Barry (Irl) 123 Ciaran Steed (Irl) 128 Keven Hartnett (Irl) 124 Kieran Kelly (Irl) 129 Michael Storan (Irl) 125 Brian Geraghty (Irl) 130 Daniel Clifford (Irl) Castlebar Western Edge Medical Communications Engraveit.ie/BDBC/Cycleways 131 David Brennan (Irl) 136 Brian Kenneally (Irl) 132 Patrick Clarke (Irl) 137 Eugene Moriarty (Irl) 133 Chris Coyle (Irl) 138 Stephen O'Sullivan (Irl) 134 Paul Dunne (Irl) 139 Aidan Crowley (Irl) 135 Chris Troy (Irl) 140 John Mason (Irl) Martin Donnelly Dan Morrissey 141 Kieran Keane (Irl) 146 Hugh Mulhearn (Irl) 142 Colin Robinson (Irl) 147 Joseph Fenlon (Irl) 143 Jonathan Gibson (Irl) 148 John Dempsey (Irl) 144 Tony Brady (Irl) 149 Sam Bennett (Irl) 145 John Lynch (Irl) 150 Mark Power (Irl) Clonmel CC Comeragh CC 151 Martin Gill (Irl) 156 Robin Kelly (Irl) 152 Danny Carroll (Irl) 157 Keith Gater (Irl) 153 158 Mark Nugent (Irl) 154 Kevin Shelly (Irl) 159 Don Feighery (Irl) 155 Keith Fox (Irl) 160 Michael Hennessy (Irl) Nigel's Bikes 161 Eoghan Considine (Irl) 162 Ruaidhrí Geraghty (Irl) 163 Paul Vaughan (Irl) 164 David Cawley (Irl) 165 Paul Doyle (Irl)
2008 Stephen Gallagher (Irl) An Post M.Donnelly Grant Thornton Sean Kelly 2007 Tony Martin (Ger) Thuringer Energy 2006 Kristian House (GBr) Recycling.co.uk 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