For the second year running Mayo Centra will enter a team in the An Post 8 day Rás; this year the riders are all members from the Western Lakes Cycling Club. The five-man squad consists of a mixture of highly experienced cyclists and late vocations to the sport, which epitomises the focus on rider development at the Ballinrobe-based club. The racing group at the club is going from strength to strength with a record number of racers registered in 2013, making for fierce competition on training spins as well as hard-fought club league races.
The team will be led again by Padraig Marrey, one of the most accomplished cyclists and coaches in the country, who has coached the cyclists with a focus on the Rás since September 2012 when winter training began. This will be Padraig’s 11th Rás, and the 20th anniversary since his first in 1993.
Two-time national champion Mark Quigley is making a return to top level cycling again this year. Mark previously represented Ireland on the international circuit and is making a strong comeback this year with a goal of completing his first Rás.
Donal Harrington is back for his second year on the Mayo Centra team. Donal is relatively new to the sport but has quickly become a well known character on the domestic scene; indeed he became the “face of the Rás” last year after hitting the tarmac on the first day, but pure grit and determination saw him through the event against all odds.
Michael Gilvarry rides his first Rás this year, making the leap to elite racing after taking up cycling four years ago. He started competitive racing last year, and can now hold his own with many of the strong men in Irish cycling.
John James Flaherty is a highly experienced racer and is back stronger than ever this year for his second consecutive Rás. John James has represented the Western Lakes CC racing team through his 12 years of racing, and his experience will be well appreciated on the team.
Centra and the Higgins Keegan group have again come in as main sponsors and the team will again don the blue and yellow colours of the Centra Supermarket chain. The Carlton Hotel Group are sponsoring accommodation for the team on the Dublin and Kerry stages. Champion Systems UK will sponsor the race cycle clothing, Erin Recyclers Donegal/Sligo are co-sponsoring accommodation.
Insignia Plus Westport are sponsoring the leisure clothing, and Marrey Bikes Ballinrobe will again provide sports nutrition and equipment to the team. This year’s team is managed by Clifden man John O’Halloran. John was a fierce competitor in his day and with three Rásaí under his belt as a rider, he brings a wealth of experience and valuable support to the team. The team will also be supported by masseurs Barry Rafferty and Priscilla Fair, and the team mechanic is Felix Jackson.
Heading up logistics is Tuam man Pat Heneghan and like all good squads the support team is vital for a successful completion of the Rás.
The 2013 An Post Rás will begin in Dunboyne on Sunday, May 19, the fourth consecutive year it has started there. It will then move counter-clockwise around the country before concluding on Sunday, May 26 with the customary finale in Skerries, north County Dublin.