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 UCI codes explained

FBD Milk Rás - 2.5

Ireland, May 18-25, 2003

2002 results     Stage List     Start List     Photos     Past winners

"Severe test" on tough Milk Rás

Heavy surfaces, wind-swept roads and two gruelling mountain stages all add up to a demanding eight days of racing in the 2003 FBD Milk Rás, according to Shane Stokes.

While the FBD Milk Rás takes a different route around Ireland each year, there are common threads running through every edition of the race. There are vital components to a balanced contest; flat stages which nod towards the breakaway specialists and sprinters, wide open, wind-buffeted roads which favour the strong and tactically astute, and tough mountain climbs which act as a launching pad for those big of lung and light in stature. A well-balanced route leads to a competitive, exciting contest, and so a course offering something for everyone has long been an FBD Milk Rás standard.

It comes as little surprise, therefore, that the 2003 edition of the race follows a similar template. Eight days in duration and over 1150 kilometres in length, the route features a total of 13 categorised climbs plus a longest stage of 188 kilometres. It adds up to what race organiser Dermot Dignam labels "a severe test", a course which should result in a gripping race.

There is one variation, though, this year; the actual orientation of the route. After a number of years passing through places such as Cork and Kerry, the 2003 FBD Milk Rás is concentrated mainly in the northwest of the country, with the race heading no further south than stage one's finish town of Roscrea. After that first day, the field heads gradually upwards towards the mountains of Donegal, where the riders will slug it out over cruel slopes which are regarded as among the toughest in the country.

Day one sees the riders heading to Roscrea on a mainly flat opening leg which starts in Dublin and winds through Newbridge, Kildare, Monasterevin and Mountmellick, before encountering the first categorised climb of the 2003 race in the Slievebloom Mountains. Ranked as a category three climb, The Cut is unlikely to wreak major havoc but will make a flat-out, aggressive stage even tougher. The opening stage gives every strong rider the chance of taking the first yellow jersey of the race; consequently, expect fireworks throughout the entire 135 kilometre journey.

The second stage is the longest of the race, 188 tough, exposed kilometres from Roscrea to Clifden. The wind is likely to play a part in the action as the riders head west through Birr, Portumna and Galway City and into Connemara, where the heavy roads will make a long day even tougher and stir up plenty of attacks before the field races onto the streets of Clifden. Stage three sees the race wind north through Connemara, passing through some of the most beautifully rugged scenery in Ireland. Leenane, Westport, Newport, the third category climb of Keenagh and Bellacorrick will be the battleground before the charge into Ballina at the end of 142 kilometres of racing.

The following day's stage to Letterkenny features 173 kilometres of mainly flat roads, which are the last respite before the serious climbing starts. After leaving Ballina the riders will travel through Dromore West, Sligo, Bundoran and Donegal before racing over the third category Barnesmore Gap and heading on towards an uphill finish in the streets of Letterkenny.

The first serious shakeup of the general classification is set to occur one day later, with the lure of the yellow jersey and the four categorised ascents providing motive and opportunity for the climbers in the bunch. The slopes of the third category Bredagh Glen set the theme before the mayhem starts proper on the daunting roads up Ballagh Hill and the Mamore Gap - reputed to be the steepest climb in Ireland - with Pinch Hill acting as one final springboard before the finish in Buncrana. Day six will be similarly appealing to sadistic spectators and masochistic contestants, with another four categorised climbs awaiting the tiring field. The 167 kilometre stage takes the riders from Buncrana and back through Letterkenny to the second category slopes of Meenirroy Hill and then on to the one-in-four hairpins of the spectacular Glengesh Pass. The splintering peloton will then race down into the town of Carrick before the road pitches skywards once again up Bogagh Hill and Bavin Hill, and then on towards to the finish in Donegal town.

Stage seven offers a respite of sorts, in that lower gearing will be needed for just the third category Oggal Hill and second category Bellavalley Gap, but the length of the day's racing will nevertheless continue the shakeup. 180 kilometres parrying the final real assaults on his leadership will ensure a difficult few hours for the yellow jersey, while those with more modest ambitions will be willing their rapidly-tiring bodies onwards through Bundoran, Manorhamilton, Belturbet and Virginia to the finish in Oldcastle.

After that, just one stage will remain and like the final day of the Tour de France, little change is expected in the overall classification. The action concludes with a one hour criterium in Dublin on Sunday May 25th, which like last year will take place in the fine settings of the Phoenix Park. The last day of racing is about the hunt for primes, plaudits and, of course, the stage win; constant attacking is expected throughout.

The Stages

  • Stage 1 - May 18: Dublin – Roscrea, 135km
  • Stage 2 - May 19: Roscrea – Clifden, 188km
  • Stage 3 - May 20: Clifden – Ballina, 142km
  • Stage 4 - May 21: Ballina – Letterkenny, 173km
  • Stage 5 - May 22: Letterkenny – Buncrana, 146km
  • Stage 6 - May 23: Buncrana – Donegal, 167km
  • Stage 7 - May 24: Donegal – Oldcastle, 180km
  • Stage 8 - May 25: Phoenix Park Circuit, 40km


Stage 8 - May 25: Phoenix Park Circuit, 40km

Images by Gerry McManus

Stage 7 - May 24: Donegal – Oldcastle, 180km

Images by Gerry McManus

Stages 3-7

Images by Shane Stokes

Start List

Ireland - Irish Sports Council       Kazakhstan
1 Ciarán Power (Irl)                 6 Andrey Medyannikov (Kaz)
2 David O'Loughlin (Irl)             7 Assan Bazayev (Kaz)
3 Thomas Evans (Irl)                 8 Maxim Iglinskiv (Kaz)
4 Andrew Donnellan (Irl)             9 Vadin Gorbachevskiy (Kaz)
5 Vincent Gleeson (Irl)
Great Britain                        Jylland-Fyn
11 Chris Newton (GBr)                16 Ari Hojgaard (Den)
12 Paul Manning (GBr)                17 Lars Werenberg (Den)
13 Bryan Steel (GBr)                 18 Michael Larsen (Den)
14 Steve Cummings (GBr)              19 Brian Larsen (Den)
15 Kieran Page (GBr)                 20 Carl Henning Brondberg (Den)
Team HSBC                            Team
21 Jeremy Maartens (RSA)             26 Josh Beck (USA)
22 Ian McLeod (RSA)                  27 Matt Svatek (USA)
23 James Ball (RSA)                  28 Lawrence Perera (USA)
24 Jeff Howes (RSA)                  29 Ryan Dewald (USA)
25 Daniel Spence (RSA)               30 Adam Hodges Myerson (USA)
Team Down Under                      Bianchi Scandinavia
31 Tom Barras (GBr)                  36 Jonas Holmkvist (Swe)
32 Matthew Yates (NZl)               37 Tobias Lergard (Swe)
33 Jaaron Poad (Aus)                 38 Jonas Ljungblad (Swe)
34 David Harrigan (Aus)              39 Thomas Lovkvist (Swe)
35 Cody Stevenson (Aus)              40 Mikael Segarsall (Swe)
Rg Gutersloh/Neheim                  Bici Imports-CSN-Rudy Project
41 Jorg Scherf (Ger)                 46 Nick Kenwright (GBr)
42 Daniel Hohmann (Ger)              47 Isaiah Adams (USA)
43 Bert Fox (Ger)                    48 Ryan Leech (USA)
44 Sven Biermann (Ger)               49 Joseph Alachoyan (USA)
45 Patrick Kohler (Ger)              50 Dan Plitman (USA)
Stena Line                           Irish Team Sdeals/Jbc
51 Yanto Barker (GBr)                56 Stephen Howells (GBr)
52 George Rose (GBr)                 57 Malcolm Elliott (GBr)
53 Jamie Norfolk (GBr)               58 Chris Doel (GBr)
54 Anthony Malarczyk (GBr)           59 Rory Wyley (Irl)
55 Paul Sheppard (GBr)               60 Sean Furley (Irl)
Team                  Life Repair Group
61 Gary Dodd (GBr)                   66 John Tanner (GBr)
62 David Berkeley (NZl)              67 Kevin Dawson (GBr)
63 Roger Morgan (GBr)                68 Mark Lovatt (GBr)
64 Justin Hoy (GBr)                  69 Graham Briggs (GBr)
65 Dave Worthington (GBr)            70 Ben Greenwood (GBr)
Energy Cycles Principia              Primera-Bournemouth
71 Greg Roche (GBr)                  76 John Charlesworth (GBr)
72 Iain Roche (GBr)                  77 Alastair Kay (GBr)
73 Gareth Jones (GBr)                78 Stephen Gibson (GBr)
74 Jeff Capper (GBr)                 79 Richard Eastham (GBr)
75 Peter Hey (GBr)                   80 Christopher Belsham (GBr)
Team Dataphonics                     North West Division
81 Mark Kelly (GBr)                  86 Neil Swithenbank (GBr)
82 Ben Hallam (GBr)                  87 Bill Nickson (GBr)
83 Laurent Estadieu (Fra)            88 Christopher Varley (GBr)
84 Matt Melville (GBr)               89 Hamish Haynes (GBr)
85 Rob Enslin (RSA)                  90 David Everett (GBr)
Dublin Usher Insulations             Dublin Skip
91 Michael Mulcahy (Irl)             96 Patrick Moriaty (Irl)
92 Edward O'Donoghue (Irl)           97 John Paul Hillard (Irl)
93 David Peelo (Irl)                 98 John Horgan (Irl)
94 Brian Stewart (GBr)               99 Adrian Hedderman (Irl)
95 Frank O'Leary (Irl)               100 Mark McLeavey (Irl)
Dublin Iarnród Eireann               Dublin Orwell
101 Paul Griffin (Irl)               106 Scott McDonald (Irl)
102 Kieran McMahon (Irl)             107 David Tansey (Irl)
103 John Dempsey (Irl)               108 Eamon Finn (Irl)
104 John Peppard (Irl)               109 Martin Caddow (Irl)
105 Colm Bracken (Irl)               110 Brian Lynch (Irl)
Kildare North                        Kildare Newbridge
111 Laurence Roche (Irl)             116 Fintan McCormack (Irl)
112 Cian Lynch (Irl)                 117 Tom Greene (Irl)
113 John Wall (Irl)                  118 Robert Looby (Irl)
114 Keith Gallagher (Irl)            120 Denis Markouris (Aus)
115 Gary Sheehan (Irl)
Kildare HirEquip                     Mayo Galway Bay
121 Brian Ahern (Irl)                126 Padraig Marrey (Irl)
122 Conor Murphy (Irl)               127 Aidan Reade (Irl)
123 Paul Mulligan (Irl)              128 Cathal Keane (Irl)
124 Ross Hooker (Can)                129 Simon Kelly (Irl)
125 Steve McEwen (GBr)               130 Michael Devins (Irl)
Meath Lee Strand Cycleways           Meath Donnelly Avonmore
131 Eugene Moriaty (Irl)             136 Craig Sweetman (Irl)
132 Raymond Clarke (Irl)             137 Derek Finnegan (Irl)
133 Philip Finegan (Irl)             138 Tony Brady (Irl)
134 Aidan Crowley (Irl)              139 Dara McCaughley (Irl)
135 Stephen O'Sullivan (Irl)         140 Ryan Connor (GBr)
Tipperary Dan Morrissey              Wicklow Sahara
141 Tim Barry (Irl)                  146 Derek Cunningham (Irl)
142 Joe Fenlon (Irl)                 147 Brian Harris (Irl)
144 Ritchie Cahill (Irl)             148 Keith O'Sullivan (Irl)
145 Brian Kenneally (Irl)            149 Declan Kinch (Irl)
                                     150 Feargal Kelly (Irl)
151 Neil Smith (GBr)
153 Ross Muir (GBr)
154 James Dobbin (GBr)
155 Nat Brindley (GBr)

Past winners

2002 Ciaran Power (Irl) Team Ireland Stena Line
2001 Paul Manning (GBr) Great Britain
2000 Julian Winn (GBr) Wales