Stage 1 Preview: The Ras will not be won on Good Friday but could be lost.

The Ras will not be won on Good Friday but is could be lost:
This is a history making Good Friday in that the public houses in Ireland are open for the first time in decades – something that might come as a surprise to the many visiting teams in East Kerry for the 2018 Kerry Group Ras Mumhan.
However before any of the 200 strong Ras peloton or those in the cavalcade take advantage of the new laws they have the traditional 100km Stage 1 to tackle.
O’Sullivan Cycles Killarney Stage 1- Friday March 30th 2018:
Like the first stage in all multi-day stage races you cannot win the event on Day 1 but you can certainly lose it. This circuit of Mid and East Kerry will see the riders tackle roads of different levels of smoothness and also a number of climbs that have in the past separated the field. These include the Category 2 climb at Knocknaboul and the short but testing climb out of Milltown coming after 75km and then the sprint up the Killorglin hill for the first time of the weekend.
The Riders: The Kerry Group Ras Mumhan will roll out Killorglin, its host town and home of the organising club, and head towards Killarney on what are fast roads especially if the wind is coming from the right direction. The race usually is usually travelling at a high speed as it approaches the tricky roundabouts at Ballydowney and Lidl before they swing left on the Tralee Road.
Viewing the Ras – There are plenty of viewing points on the roads from Killorglin to Killarney to watch the Ras. Huge crowds usually gathering at the roundabouts and on the assent out of Killarney and if you are planning to watch the race in this area please obey the stewards and park safely.
The Riders: Following the ascent out of Killarney the riders swing right at the New Cemetery and head for Kilcummin. This is a narrow and winding road and riders will want to be towards the front of the race and stay out trouble.
Viewing the Ras – Unless you are a resident on the road from the turn off to Kilcummin there are very few places to safely watch the race. It is advised to head to the Kilcummin Village where big crowds usually gather. It is also a good viewing point for those that want to catch the race later on in the stage or get back to Killorglin for the finish.
The Riders: From Kilcummin to the Scartaglin Road the roads become bumpy and undulating and the riders will be looking ahead to the Category 2 climb at Knocknaboul, especially those who will be targeting the DMC Sports sponsored Climber Jersey competition.
Viewing the Ras – The top of the climb at Knocknaboul is one of the best viewing places on the stage as you will be able to see the riders on the climb looking back down the road. However do wrap up well as this can be a cold spot at Easter time.
The Riders: Once the riders summit the hill and turn left and head for Castleisland the pace really picks us as the riders head through Scartaglin and onto the sharp turn at Garvey’s in Castleisland. The race will then head to Currans and past the new Kerry GAA Centre of Excellence before it crosses the Tralee Road fly-over and heads towards Ballyfinnane and onto the cross just outside Firies.
Viewing the Ras – Scartaglin, Castleisland and Currans Village are very good viewing spots for cycling fans in that part of the county. Ballyfinnace Village is tight with the sharp turn but there is always a big crowd to cheer the riders on as is the junction outside Firies where the riders head towards Milltown and begin to think of their positioning for the sprint to home.
At this stage if you want to see the finish you will have be gone well ahead of the race to reach Killorglin in plenty of time.
The Riders: Once the riders are back on the Firies to Killorglin road it is important for those with stage ambitions to get to the front of the race. Milltown is tricky and that climb after the town will certainly test the legs with only 25km left on Day 1.
Racing will be fast and furious at this stage with teams looking to get their main men to the front while also watching the many attempted breaks that will be happening. The final approach to Killorglin is tricky with a steep short downhill section before the tight roundabout at the bridge and then the final mad dash up the hill.
For the Record: In 2017 Stage 1 of the Kerry Group Ras Mumhan saw Tom Mazzone (Isle of Mann) take the O’Sullivan Cycles Killarney sponsored prize in a time of 2.11.20. The first Irish rider home was Paidi O’Brien who was guesting with the Killorglin Cycling Club in third while the best Kerry rider on the day was Tralee Manor West iBike’s Cathal Moynihan in 7th.

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