The organisers have gone for a familiar pattern of five road stages and a short time trial for the third visit of the race to the Banner County with one all new stage and several tweaks to the established route.
Wednesday 9th September is the beginning of the five-day event with a 68km stage starting at race headquarters Inn at Dromoland near Quin in County Clare. The mainly flat route includes one classified climb and finishes at Barefield near the county town of Ennis.
Stage two is back by popular demand. The Wild Atlantic Way stage introduced last year provided an epic backdrop to wonderful racing as the riders made their way along the Clare coastline from Loop Head Lighthouse in the south of the county to Ballyvaughan in the north.
It is here that the fight for general classification is likely to begin in earnest, a battle that will continue on stage three, the newly minted ‘Beast of the East’ stage in the eastern part of the county.
Starting and finishing in the pretty market and fishing town of Scariff, the 80km stage includes four classified climbs and several other drags set to test the riders legs.
Stage four on Saturday is the familiar short ‘out and back’ individual time trial at Barefield near Ennis. Coming this year on the penultimate day of racing, the 8km test will create further divisions in general classification and offers the power riders a chance for stage honours.
Later on Saturday, the fifth and penultimate stage is the familiar 10 lap, 41km circuit race at Ballyalla. Typically the fastest bunch race of the week, the stage is always a hit with spectators with ten opportunities to see the racers in action in an hour of racing on the 4.1km circuit.
The final stage of An Post Rás na mBan 2015 is a slightly revised version of last year’s final stage which provided possibly the best racing of the week. The 85km loop skirts the Shannon Estuary in the south west of the county before making its way back to a new finish line in the heart of Ennis.
By then the riders will have less than 400km of tough racing in their legs and will have earned their coveted finishers medals for completing Ireland’s top international bike race.
In announcing the route, race organiser Valerie Considine confirmed the continuing commitment of title sponsor An Post to the event. The national postal carrier has supported the race since 2011, a partnership that has enabled the event to grow in stature.
Ms Considine spoke of their desire to showcase the beauty of the Banner with the route chosen. “For the tenth running of Rás na mBan we wanted to create a route that provided the fairest challenge for the riders and best reflects the outstanding natural beauty of County Clare”.
STAGE 1. 68KM
DROMOLAND-NEWMARKET ON FERGUS-SIXMILBRIDGE-KILMURRY-TULLA-CRUSHEEN-BAREFIELD
STAGE 2. ‘WILD ATLANTIC WAY’ 112KM
LOOP HEAD-KILKEE-DOONBEG-QUILTY-SPANISH POINT-LEHINCH-DOOLIN-FANORE-BALLYVAUGHAN
STAGE 3. ‘BEAST OF THE EAST’ 80KM
STAGE 4. INDIVIDUAL TIME TRIAL 8KM
BAREFIELD – BAREFIELD
STAGE 5. Race Length: 10 Laps
BALLYALLA – BALLYALLA
STAGE 6. 85KM
‘AN POST’ DROMOLAND-CLARECASTLE-LISSYCASEY-CREEGH-KILMALEY-ENNIS