The countdown is on for nine Galway cyclists who are taking part in Ireland’s premier cycling event, the 2013 An Post Rás, which starts on Sunday.
All are members of the Galway Bay Cycling Club and will compete against top professional cyclists from Europe, Australasia, and America.
It is the first time such a large contingent of riders from the county has competed in this prestigious race. For Darach Behan, Eoghan Clifford, Liam Frawley, Derek Joyce, Mike Ryder, Frank Barrett, Tony Bourke and Padhraic Forde, it is their first experience of this grueling event that covers 1180 kilometres, takes in more than 30 climbs, and is raced in speeds in excess of 45kph. The only group member who has competed and finished the event previously is Nigel Forde.
The Rás is unique in international cycling as it is the only race which mixes professional cyclists against ordinary club riders and, for some of the GBCC team, simply finishing the event will be an achievement.
However the group has been in training for the past year, covering more than 10,000 kilometres in preparation for Sunday’s start which takes place in Dunboyne for the fourth year in succession. Along with Nigel Forde, Mike Ryder competed on a Connacht team in the prestigious Lincoln GP in England recently, while Liam Frawley finished third, beating some professional cyclists in the Des Hanlon Memorial in Carlow.
Mike Ryder says he is ready for the off.
“As this is my first Rás it will be a learning experience, but after the training and preparation, I am confident we are ready for the challenge.”
Derek Joyce says: “I have been cycling for many years, but with family and work commitments I never got the opportunity to do the Rás, so it is great to be doing the Rás with such a great Galway team.”
This year’s event, however, will not be coming through the city. Stage two begins on Monday from Longford, passing through Roscommon, Ballygar, Mountbellew, Ballinasloe, Laurencetown, Portumna, Carrigahorig, Terryglass, Puckane, and finishing in Nenagh.