The 17th edition of Rás na mBan kicks off from the Hoban Hotel in Kilkenny tomorrow, Wednesday 6th September, from 16:15 with the best bike riders from Ireland and abroad soaking in the pre-race atmosphere as they prepare to tackle the five-day epic.

The opening 6km is neutralised, taking the riders on a ceremonial start through Kilkenny City, before taking off on the Waterford Road towards Danesfort from 16:45 onwards. From there, the route will travel through Stoneyford, Knocktopher, and Kilmaganny. As the riders race towards Callan, the climb at Curragawn 30km in to the race at around 17:20 will get the Queen of the Mountains competition underway, before racing towards Windgap and arriving into Callan at 17:45 for just over two loops on a shorter circuit.

Last year there was a large bunch sprint finish to keep the crowd on their toes until the final moments. With a race speed of 39.869 km/h Lara Gillespie took the first win of the race for the Irish Team, with 70 riders of the 105 who started crossing the line within 5 seconds.

Conditions tomorrow suggest a dry stage with a tailwind towards Knocktopher before a more challenging ride up the first QOH and onto the closing circuit.

This year’s race features 20 teams with riders hailing from 11 different countries. While the main race consists of six stages across five days, within this there will also be battles for the Queen of the Mountains jersey, the Points Classification, Best Young Rider, and Best Irish Rider, as well as the daily contest for the stage win.

Danni Shrosbree of DAS Handsling returns from the UK having narrowly missed a spot on the overall podium last year – coming down to 0.12 of second, and the QOM jersey by a single a point. Mary Wilkinson of Team Boompods is also a rider to watch, finishing 6th on GC in 2022, with Irish team mate Ellen McDermott likely looking for another stage podium finish during the week.

Kilkenny native Mia Griffin is no stranger to the podium and will be a strong contender for the Points jersey throughout the week. Meanwhile the O’Briens who featured strongly in the Irish Rider category last year will now be racing as part of the Irish team, alongside Erin Creighton and Lucy Benezet Minns, all of whom have been selected to represent Ireland at U23 level at the upcoming UEC European Road Championships later this month.

Other riders to keep an eye on include, last year’s Best Irish Rider Amelia Tyler riding for Alba Development Road Team, USA’s Katherine Sheridan racing for Hutchinson Brother-UK who is having a strong off-road season on gravel this year, and Marine Lenihan of Dan Morrissey Primor by Pissei who recently finished a close 2nd to Griffin at the Irish National Crit Champs having also been crowned Gran Fondo European Champ.

With athletes travelling from the USA, South Africa, Canada, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the UK, and Spain to take part, it’s sure to be an exciting week of racing from the gun.

Full Route:

Neutralised Section: