Rás na mBan 2015: Routes announced!

riders in last year's race
Riders crest Castle Hill in last year’s race

With just two months to go until the start of An Post Rás na mBan 2015, Race Organiser Valerie Considine has released the details of the six stages which will face riders signing up for what will be the 10th anniversary running of the Five Day International Stage Race.

Rás na mBan 2015 includes four road stages, one circuit race, and an individual time trial. Riders will cover 400kms over the five days of racing, and there will be ten categorised climbs spread over the six stages…. five Cat 3, three Cat 2, and two Cat 1 QOHs.

As has been the norm since the race became a five day affair, Stage 1 will take place on the evening of day one, Wednesday 9th September. Stage 1 will start at Race HQ, The Inn at Dromoland, at 5:30pm and will take riders on a 68km loop to the east and north of Ennis Town.

From Dromoland the stage will take riders to Newmarket-on-Fergus, Sixmilebridge, Kilmurray, Tulla and Crusheen, before finishing at Barefield. There is one categorised climb on Stage 1, the Cat 2 QOH at Maghera, which features in the race for the third year in a row.

Stage 2 will also be familiar to anyone riding or following last year’s race, it is the supremely scenic stage which starts at Loop Head Lighthouse and takes the race along a section of Ireland’s beautiful coastal route The Wild Atlantic Way.

This second stage of Rás na mBan 2015 is an epic 112km, and takes the riders from Loop Head to Kilkee, Doonbeg, Quilty, Spanish Point, Lehinch, Doolin, and Fanore before they finish in the pretty village of Ballyvaughan. There are two Cat 2 QOHs on this stage, and these come on either side of the potentially windy Cat 1 climb of The Cliffs of Moher.

Riders line up at Loop Head Lighthouse
Riders line up at Loop Head Lighthouse

Stage 3, on Friday 11th September, is a brand new addition to Rás na mBan. Enticingly named ‘The Beast of The East’, this 80km stage covers a looped circuit in East Clare. Starting and finishing in Scarriff, with Lough Graney, Killanena and Feakle in between, this stage features four categorised climbs.

Saturday will bring split stages, an individual time trial in the morning, and a circuit race in the early evening. Stage 4, the ITT, will run on the same 8km, out-and-back course at Barefield that was used for Ras na mBan 2014. The Individual TT will run in reverse GC order, with the first rider off at 10am that morning.

Stage 5 will be ten laps of the spectator-friendly 4.1km circuit at Ballyalla that has been used so successfully for the last few years. This stage is relatively flat, and has traditionally proved to be one for the sprinters, with Fiona Meade having a memorable win there last year.

To further encourage the speed queens, there will be Prime Prizes on two laps of Stage 5 again this year. Stage 5 will start at 5pm on Saturday evening and should be done and dusted before 6pm.

Ras na mBan 2014 race winner, Tayler Wiles, in her pink An Post Winner’s jersey

Stage 6, on Sunday 13th Septmeber, will be the final stage of Rás na mBan 2015 and will take the riders into South Clare, along the estuary of the majestic River Shannon. Stage 6 is 85km long, and features two categorised climbs, a Cat 3 QOH at 19km and a Cat 1 QOH which tops out only 20km from the finish line.

The stage will start once again at Race HQ, The Inn at Dromoland, and at 11:30am. From Dromoland the stage will race through Clarecastle, Drumquin, Kildysart, Kilmurray-McMahon, and Kilmihil before finishing in Ennis Town at 2pm approximately, and bringing Rás na mBan 2015 to a close.

Full details and route maps for An Post Rás na mBan 2015 can be found on the official race website.

If you haven’t yet entered your team into this year’s race, remember the closing date for Rás na mBan 2015 is Monday 10th August, so don’t delay!