No Egg’s till Monday for Kerry Group Ras Riders!
For most of the country the signs that Easter are here are the daffodils in bloom, the lambs in the field and chocolate eggs having been purchased. For Killorglin and the sporting public of Kerry there is a further sign and that is the arrival of 190 riders, including 110 Category 1 riders, from 38 teams for the internationally renowned Kerry Group Ras Mumhan.
The 4 days race covers almost 500km on the Kerry and West Limerick roads and will see the riders tackle 26 categorised climbs including the daunting Cat 1 Coom an Easpaig on Sunday.
Once again there is an international feel to the Kerry Group Ras Mumhan peloton with riders from England and the Isle of Man taking on the best from Ireland. One of the biggest fields in the history of the Ras are competing for a prize fund of over e7000 with a number of sponsored primes each day.
There are a number of prestigious Cups to be won on the Kerry Group Ras with The Eamon Scully Cup for the winner in Waterville, the Gene Moriarty Cup for the Stage 2 winner and the Paddy O’Callaghan Cup on Stage 4 as well as the Cups presented for Overall wins.
Day 1 gets underway from Killorglin at 2.50pm and takes the riders on a 100km circuit of East and Mid Kerry culminating in the finish up the Killorglin hill.
Day 2 is the double county day with the Ras starting in Listowel at 11am and crossing over into West Limerick for a finish in Athea. The 125km stage is a new one this year taking in Ballylongford, Tarbert, Glin, Athea, Carrigkerry, Ardagh- where the priceless chalice was found Shanagolden – made famous in song, Foynes – the home of the Flying Boat Museum commemorating the first ever trans-Atlantic flight – Loughill and back to Glin and onto Athea and Carrigkerry. The race then goes onto a smaller loop with 3 passes up the hill out of Athea with a 2pm finish. In all there are 9 climbs on the stage.
Day 3 starts at 11.30am in Waterville and takes in roads that have been called as the best for stage racing in the country. Highlights of the 155km stage include passing the home of the late Iron Man Mick Murphy, the crossing onto and off and the circuit of Valentia Island as well as the aforementioned Coom an Easpaig. The stage also includes two Category 2 climbs as well as a number of thrilling descents before the race back to Waterville for an approx. 2.30pm finish.
Day 4 starts with the annual 3 laps of the Killorglin / Beaufort / Killorglin circuit before the 10 laps of the shorter Donal McKenna circuit and the always exciting 10 times up the Killorglin hill. This Category 4 climb will see the King of the Hills title alive until the end and has in the past seen the race lead change right up to the flag.
So who is in contention?
There are 4 former winners in the field with Mark Dowling, the 2014 winner leading a strong Strata3 Velo Revolution team. Tralee’s Sean Lacey took the win in 2011 and will lead the Aqua Blue team that will be in contention for stage and overall honours and Eugene Moriarty who will certainly be targeting a Stage 2 win to take home the club named in memory of his grandfather. Eugene guests with the Killorglin side and will certainly not lack for local support. John Dempsey, Panduit Carrick Wheelers was the winner in 2005.
Killarney will be looking for big performances from the likes of Richard Maes, John Brosnan and Eoin O’Connell while the Pocket Rocket from across the border Paidi O’Brien is a multiple stage winner and will be looking to add to his total.
The visiting English teams – Surrey League, Rhino Velo Race Team and VCUK Velochampions – will all have strong riders as will the Isle of Man that is returning after a number of years.