Mayo’s David O’Loughlin returns home as part of a five-man An Post Sean Kelly team that have high hopes of continuing their recent good form in Europe, back on home soil. O’Loughlin competed in the 4km track pursuit at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and won his and Ireland's first ever UCI Track World Cup medal when taking the 4km Individual Pursuit bronze at the Beijing World Cup meet in January, and followed this with a silver medal at the Copenhagen World Cup meet in Denmark.
O'Loughlin was a high profile signing for the road racing An Post team this year and this will be his first race for his new team on home soil. And he is looking forward to the challenge. “The team has been doing well lately and I’m really looking forward to coming back to Ireland to race again and with the An Post team,” O’Loughlin said. “Stephen Gallagher won the Rás last year but unfortunately he is ruled out this year, so it is up to another team member now to put in a big performance and defend the title.
“Personally I’ve been going well, but there is obviously a big difference between road and track racing and the Rás would be the ideal race to put in a big performance. Hopefully a good crowd will come out to support the An Post team as it makes a big difference to have people behind you. I’ll be aiming to put in good showing on Monday and Tuesday as we’ll be racing in my home county — so the pressure will be on!”
Next Friday the race will finish its stage in Castlebar after a 159km trip from Scariff, the route will take the race through Shrule, Kilmaine, Ballinrobe, Partry, Ballintubber, and Ballyheane before finishing in Castlebar. The following day the race will leave Castlebar before passing through Claremorris and Ballyhaunis on its way to Clara.
The Lough Mask Challenge
Cycling enthusiasts far and wide will be converging on south Mayo this Saturday to take part in a hugely popular fun cycle in aid of the Red Cross Corrib/Mask Life Boa Service. The Lough Mask Challenge circuit includes a mixtures of two routes to cater for all. The Red Cross Life Boat Service is manned by local volunteers and offers an invaluable service to users of the two lakes. The challenge of the event is to complete the circuit at your own pace, while rediscovering the joys of cycling and the natural beauty of the area.
So if you need something to motivate you to get fit, take the bike out of the garage or garden shed. Make sure it is in good mechanical order, get yourself a helmet, puncture repair kit, a good pump, and join a fun day out. With two routes there is an option for everyone. Route 1 is a 65km/38miles circuit of Lough Mask which is well within the capabilities of anyone who is of reasonable fitness. Route 2 at 80km adds an extra loop of Lough Na Fooey with some climbing for the stronger fitter cyclist. The routes will be fully marked and marshalled, with support vehicles patrolling the route during the event. Refreshments will be available at halfway and again at the finish. Registration will be taken at Western Lakes Cycling Centre, Kilmaine Road, Ballinrobe, at 9am on Saturday. Event starts at 10am. Further details are available on www.westerlakescc.com