Riders in the 16th edition of Ireland’s top international stage race will be competing on stage three of the five-day, six-stage event when they ride into County Laois and on to the final climb in the picturesque Slieve Bloom Mountains.
The 2022 edition of the event, which was won in 2021 by Scotland’s Anna Shackley, started on Wednesday 7th September and the third stage of this year’s event on September 9th in County Laois will be key in deciding who wins overall.
Dutch professional Lieke Van Zeelst, guesting with the Limerick squad Greenmount Cycling Academy this week, is the overall race leader starting stage three.
After a ceremonial ride to the offices of Laois County Council, the riders will be officially sent on their way by Cllr. Thomasina Connell, Cathaoirleach, Laois County Council from the offices of Laois County Council in Portlaoise.
Ahead of them will be the longest stage of the week, an arduous race of over 100km including the ceremonial start, featuring two tough climbs in the final 30km which are sure to force splits in the peloton.
The climb of Wolftrap Mountain will sap the riders’ energy before the final 4.5km assault on The Cut, a popular destination in Irish cycling history.
The riders will have little time to enjoy the spectacular scenery as they power up the final climb to the finish line where the final result is likely to have a significant impact on the overall classification.
The images of the landmark stage will be filmed for a highlights TV show to be broadcast on Eurosport on Friday16th September and on RTE2 TV on Sunday 18th September.
Riders from 13 nations representing 22 teams are competing in Rás na mBan 2022 where they will do battle over five days and six separate stages to secure the overall title.
In welcoming Rás na mBan to County Laois for a third time Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council Ms. Thomasina Connell said: “As Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council it gives me great pleasure to welcome this international field of women cyclists to County Laois for stage 3 of Rás na mBan 2022.
“This is the 16th edition of Rás na mBan and the 36th year of international women’s stage racing in Ireland. It’s the third year in which the race has ventured into County Laois and on each occasion the race has included the scenic and epic summit finish on The Cut in the Slieve Bloom Mountains. I am certain that the riders and spectators are going to love the race challenge and the beautiful scenery and wish them every success in the race.
“I would like to thank the organisers who are all volunteers, Cycling Ireland and the Womens Commission of Cycling for bringing this race to Laois.
In introducing the Slieve Bloom Stage in County Laois, Race Director Valerie Considine said: “We’re delighted to bring our race back to Laois in 2022.
“Our visits to County Laois and the Sileve Blooms have been a joy. The challenging climb of The Cut is the perfect way to conclude our only mountain top finish and it is always great to see people out on the roads cheering the riders on.
“For ’22 we have redesigned this stage to allow us to visit the offices of Laois County Council and we hope that there will be many out to send the riders on their way on Friday 9th.”
The sight of the large and colourful peloton of international racers riding from Portlaoise and Mountmellick on their way to the big climbs at the end of the stage will be a wonderful occasion.
We have Tokyo Olympians and other national champions in the entry list and Rás na mBan 2022 is shaping up to be one of the best in the history of the race and we look forward to a great battle on the road to The Cut on September 9th.
STAGE 3 – Friday 9th September
Road Race The Cut – Slieve Blooms
Friday’s third stage is the ‘Queen’ stage with an epic assault on The Cut in the Slieve Bloom Mountains in County Laois which is set to create big gaps between the riders on general classification.
The stage is a daunting 96km plus the neutralised section from Portlaoise to Mountmellick to Wolftrap Mountain followed by the final ascent to The Cut. The final climb is a 7km ascent with an average gradient of 4.5% and a maximum of 9.8% to a popular viewing point for cyclists and tourists.
Portlaoise – Abbeyleix – Mountrath -Mountmellick – Clonaslee – Kinnitty – Wolftrap -The Cut