Ireland’s premier women’s bike race moves to Kilkenny for its 11th edition, an event which also marks the 30th anniversary of Ireland’s first international stage race for women.
For this milestone event, the organisers have crafted a route of contrasts which will test the all-round stage-credentials of the field of international and domestic riders expected to compete in the race this September.
The six-stage, five-day race begins on Wednesday 7th with a road race starting at race HQ, the Springhill Court Hotel, and finishing back in Kilkenny. The 60 km stage is over rolling terrain and includes one significant climb offering points for the IVCA Wicklow 200 Queen of the Mountains classification.
Thursday’s second stage is a 75km road race based in pretty village of Castlecomer, and starting from Castlecomer Discovery Park. The undulating roads of this stage will be familiar to riders who have previously tackled the Deenside Cup and Des Hanlon classic races.
On Friday the riders face the “Queen Stage”, a daunting 112km slog that will take the race over the county border from Kilkenny to Carlow, and which will culminate in the arduous climb of Mount Leinster to the fabled ‘Nine Stones’ finish.
Mount Leinster also features in next week’s An Post Rás (the men’s version of Rás na mBan!) is sure to provide plenty of shakeups to the general classification of both races!
Saturday 10th September will be a split stage day on Rás na mBan, as per recent years. The morning begins with an 11km out-and-back individual time trial on a virtually pan-flat road just outside Kilkenny City.
On Saturday evening the riders will converge on the world famous Kilkenny Castle for a one-hour long, high-octane criterium race that is sure to prove a hit with both riders and spectators. This city-centre crit stage will be run on a 2.1km triangular lap featuring tricky corners, a sharp climb, and even a cobbled section!!
It’s a race that will be targeted by the sprinters and will likely play an important part in the destination of the National Dairy Council Points Classification at the end of the week.
The race concludes on Sunday 11th with a tough 85km stage beginning and ending in Kilkenny city. The key challenge on the final day will come when the riders ascend out of the beautiful village of Inistíoge to take on the infamous Woodstock Hill climb.
Commenting on the route, Rás na mBan Race Director Valerie Considine declared the 2016 ‘parcours’ a “worthy challenge”:
“The move to Kilkenny has been truly exciting for a race that continues to explore new vistas. It’s been a pleasure investigating the highways and byways of this truly beautiful county on the bike and in the car and we believe we’ve unearthed a route that will prove a worthy challenge for all”.
Full details, and maps of all stages, can be viewed on the race website.