Final preparations are now being made for the An Post Rás Eight-Day International Cycle Race, which will arrive in Clonakilty for a stage-end finish on Thursday May 26. This follows on from the very successful Stage Finish hosted by the town for this annual prestigious event in 2014. The Rás, now in its 64th year is included in the Union Cycliste International (UCI) Calendar of International Cycling Races, and as such can award world ranking points, required to qualify for the Olympic Games and World Cycling Championships. The 180 cyclists – both Irish and overseas – include competitors from the UK, USA, Australia, NZ, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Austria and France. The entourage, which will overnight in the town, will be supported by a cavalcade of some 200 team officials and back-up personnel. With an estimated spend in the region of €35,000 at what is normally a relatively quiet time of the year, the event will be a major boost to the area and a welcome start to the summer season. The stage-end will also help to raise the national and international profile of the town. Many hotels are already well booked and local people are looking forward to a repeat of the colourful spectacle of two years ago.
The colourful race spectacle will start at Dublin Castle on Sunday, May 22 and traverse the country over eight days, taking in Counties Kerry and Cork. On day five – May 26 – the riders will race the 165K from Sneem through Kenmare, Glengarriff, Bantry, Skibbereen, Leap and Glandore, arriving in Clonakilty at approximately 2.30pm. An additional feature on this occasion will see the cyclists race through two laps of the town, along Park Road from the west, through Larkin St, Connolly St, Rossa St, and McCurtain Hill, then on to Shannonvale Village where it will turn left at Phair’s pub and on to Grancore Cross. A sharp turn left turn there will then bring the riders back into town via Fernhill Road. A right turn at the T junction on the Western back up to the Dunnes Stores roundabout will see the riders on the final stretch for their second lap to the Finishing Line just outside the Garda station at the top of McCurtain Hill.
Some traffic restrictions will apply both before and during the race, but will of course be kept to a minimum. Local residents will be kept informed by the well-briefed stewards and Gardaí.
On the Friday morning, the cyclists will again start off from Pearse Street, where hopefully a large crowd will gather to send them on the next leg of their race which will take them to Dungarvan.
The entirely voluntary committee made up of stage-end co-ordinator Noel O’Donovan, Secretary John Forristal, Treasurer Ger Harte, Chief Steward Jimmy O’Regan, as well as Jerome O’Sullivan, Tim O’Regan, David Henry and Finbarr Hegarty. The local Gardaí, under Superintendent Ger O’Mahony, Sergeant Aidan Moynihan and Garda Liam Ryan have been actively involved with the committee for the past few months. The committee is also actively supported by Cork County Council, Clonakilty Chamber of Commerce and the local Credit Union.