The 2016 An Post Rás route was revealed at the GPO on Wednesday, February 17th and it looks certain to provide a challenging test.
Stage Three, from Charleville will, in its course, pass through Castleisland on its way to a Dingle finish.
The last RÁS to come within the town limits was in 2014 – and it did little more as it slid and sped off down the bypass and largely unknown the people of the town. Only a handful took up positions along the route and on the fly-over at Mullaghmarkey to view the spectacular event.
High Risk Location
Since the last stage finish in Castleisland in 2011 the town was considered a high-risk location as incidents of cars backing out of kerb-side parking spaces spooked the organisers who feared accidents and crashes because of this.
However, this year, the event will pass through town on Tuesday, May 24th on its, Stage 3, 133.2km journey between Charleville and Dingle.
That, incidentally, is the same date on which the last Castleisland stage end occurred in 2011.
From the Charleville start the race will proceed through: Dromina, Newmarket, Ballydesmond, Knockaboul Cross, Scartaglin, Castleisland, Ballymacelligott, Blennerville, Camp, Stradbally, Conor Pass and Dingle.
Eight Stages, 1,235 Kilometers
This year’s Rás covers 1,235 kilometres over eight stages with 25 categorised climbs, including three category one climbs, Conor Pass, Ballaghisheen Pass and Mount Leinster. The 2016 Rás is the 64th edition of the race, and this year’s route is designed by cyclist, Stephen O’Sullivan.
Stephen O’Sullivan has strong links with cycling in Castleisland and rode with a club here in the early 1990s. He also rode in the RÁS at that time on a bike frame designed and made by former Castleisland Community College teacher Billy O’Rourke – himself a RÁS cyclist.
The action gets underway on Sunday May 22 from Dublin Castle, Dublin City, with stage finishes in Multyfarnham, Charleville, Dingle, Sneem, Clonakilty, Dungarvan, Baltinglass and finishing in Skerries.
Stage 1, Sunday May 22: Dublin Castle to Multyfarnham, 144.6 km
Stage 2, Monday May 23: Mullingar to Charleville, 183.7 km
Stage 3, Tuesday May 24: Charleville to Dingle, 133.2 km
Stage 4, Wednesday May 25: Dingle to Sneem, 162.8 km
Stage 5, Thursday May 26: Sneem to Clonakilty, 148.3 km
Stage 6, Friday May 27: Clonakilty to Dungarvan, 159.1 km
Stage 7, Saturday May 28: Dungarvan to Baltinglass, 155 km. Stage 8, Sunday May 29: Kildare to Skerries, 148.4 km
The RÁS is a massive, logistical undertaking and behind the colour and excitement there is so much that can go wrong. Therefore, a whole raft of safety measures will be put in place well ahead of the great event.
There will be safety guidelines issued for the benefit of spectators, motorists, farmers and even pet owners along the designated routes.