Friends First-St. Tiernan’s five to be club’s first Ras team
FOR the first time in its 30-year history, St. Tiernan’s Cycling Club has entered a team in Ireland’s only UCI-ranked race, the 2017 An Post Rás.
Sponsored by Friends First, Friends First-St. Tiernan’s will roll out of Dublin Castle on Sunday May 21st and arrive back to Skerries the following Sunday, May 28th.
The eight stages, totalling 1200km, will finish in Longford, Newport, Bundoran, Dungloe, Donegal and Ardee, before the finale in Skerries.
As the race twists and turns towards the North, stage 6 on May 26 will feature the fearsome Glengesh pass, a climb the St. Tiernan;s riders know well from their participation in Rás Dhun na nGall in its last three editions.
Team rider James Quinn spoke of their preparation which began in earnest last November.
“We have ridden all of the major stage races this year in preparation and we know what level you need to be at to compete at races like the Rás,” he said. “Every bike racer in Ireland aspires to become a man of the Rás and we are delighted to have Friends First on board with us as we commit to achieving just that, adding another five men to that list.”
Brian O’Neill, Strategic Marketing Director with Friends First, said: “We are delighted to support the Friends First St. Tiernan’s Rás team and continue our association with the sport and with the club.
“We are in our fifth year of supporting the club’s open race in Laragh, Co. Wicklow, and it is exciting to see them develop further and compete at this level. This is Ireland’s premier cycling event and has always been held in high regard countrywide.
“I think its association with the County teams means there is a common thread with amateur sport, whilst it is certainly operating at a professional level. We are happy to be associated an event that really is part of Irelands sporting history.”
The Rás has always been in a unique position when it comes to amateurs racing with professionals, the ‘county’ teams bringing an air of unpredictability to the sometimes metronomic world of professional racing.
Adam Greally, another of the Friends First-St. Tiernan’s five, said: “When you are a nine-to-five worker racing against a nine-to-five cyclist, you know it is going to difficult, but that is part of the attraction of the Rás, the amateurs and professionals racing together. It is something the bigger teams enjoy and is one of the unique features of the race.”
On what it takes to compete at this level, he added: “The commitment has been huge and unwavering from all on the team, and without Friends First coming on board it may have all been in vain. We were delighted to get them to back us.
“It will all be new for the majority of the team, including myself, John (O’Regan) and James (Quinn), but we have two experienced guys in Niall (O’Dwyer), Ronan (Killeen) and our manager Justin (McGee) , who have been through it all before, so we will not be without some race knowledge.
“When you see some of the names on the start list you begin to wonder but the Rás would not be the race it is if it wasn’t for the county teams and we have to thank our sponsors Friends First, Parcel Zone and Brendan Bonnie for helping us to maintain that tradition.”
Stage one of the 65th An Post Rás begins from Dublin Castle at midday this Sunday the 21st May. We hope to see the five Friends First-St. Tiernan’s riders in Skerries sometime after midday on Sunday 28th May as men of the Rás.