Cycling Ireland have named a mixture of youth and experience on their national team for the five-day Rás Tailteann due to start in Dublin on June 15.
seasoned professional Rory Townsend has plenty of experience, having won the sprints classification at the Tour of Britain in 2019 and ridden the elite world championship road race last year where he spent much of the day in the early breakaway.
Townsend, at 26, is the oldest rider on the team and will act as road captain, making decisions during the race for the rest of the five man team, all of whom are still racing in the U23 category.
Wicklow’s Archie Ryan is currently based in Holland with the Jumbo Visma Development squad, a feeder team for the WorldTour squad of Primoz Roglic, Wout Van Aert and Tom Dumoulin. Ryan has been coming into good form of late and should be to the fore whenever the road rises.
Dean Harvey put in some strong rides at the recent Fleche du Sud for the Irish U23 squad, finishing seventh on the final stage.
Adam Ward is another experienced international currently based in Spain while Paul Antoine Hagan is a strong time triallist from Banbridge who has had a very good run of form recently on the domestic scene and deserves his chance.
“Flèche du Sud was a huge confidence boost for the team,” says former track world champion Martyn Irvine, who will manage the squad for 2022.
“We worked extremely well together and came away with two top-10 finishes against some quality riders.
“The Rás provides another opportunity for these talented young riders to gain exposure to racing at a high level. We’re looking forward to racing on home roads and seeing what we can achieve together as a team.”
Joining the Irish squad on the start list so far are teams from Spain and the UK.
Spain will be represented by the Brocar Ale team comprising Sergio Jimenez Duran, who finished second in the Trofeo Santa Quiteria- Higeuerala last week, Alvaro Sagrado Perez, Louis Sutton, Tom Finlay Martin and Mayo’s Nathan Kurensky who represented Ireland at the junior European Mountainbike championships in 2019.
Scotland’s Spokes Racing Team, based in Dundee, bring Lee Rosie, Jacob Smith, Daniel Kain, Cameron Brown and former Scottish time trial champion Craig Paterson to the Rás in the hope of emulating 1981 winner and compatriot Jamie McGahan.
While continental professional team Trinity Racing are based in England, they are run by Irish cycling agent Andrew McQuaid and will bring Irish duo Kevin McCambridge and Matthew Devins back to race on home roads alongside Brazilian mountain bike international Alex Malacarne, 2021 junior world MTB champion, Frenchman Adrien Boichis, and British U23 cyclocross champion Cameron Mason.
McCambridge won the North Down Grand Prix on Sunday while 19-year-old Devins wore the combined classification jersey at the Tour de Bretagne in France before crashing out and then put in some very good performances for the Irish U23 national squad in the Fleche du Sud stage race in Luxembourg last week.
Renowned for their development of young riders, the squad has consistently performed at the highest level and have seen riders such as Tom Pidcock and former Irish Champion, Ben Healy make the jump up to World Tour teams in recent years.
With City Break Apartments and Bective Stud recently announced as sponsors of the points and county rider classifications respectively, the 67th edition of the Rás will see the 175 strong international peloton race 756km around Ireland, taking in eight categorized climbs, with stage finishes in Horse and Jockey, Castleisland, Lisdoonvarna, Kilbeggan, before the final stage from Kinnegad to the seaside finishing circuit in Blackrock, Co. Louth.