All new Stage to Callan
Kilkenny Representation on the National Squad
Local Riders Race for Kilkenny Best Irish Rider Jersey
After the pandemic hiatus of 2020, Rás na mBan is set to return to the roads of Kilkenny City and county next week.
Ireland’s first international cycling event since Covid and one of the first international sports events of 2021 will play out over five days and six stages starting next Wednesday 8th September on Ireland’s Ancient East.
Over 100 riders representing 21 teams and 14 nations will descend on Kilkenny for the long awaited event which showcases the beauty and variety of roads and landscape of the Leinster county.
This year’s race is the 15th edition of the popular international stage race which has made Kilkenny its home since 2016.
An all-new 72km first stage including a 13km circuit finish in Callan, County Kilkenny and a challenging new mountain top stage finish in the Slieve Blooms and are the highlights of the 2021 Rás na mBan route.
The event has once again attracted Olympic, World and European Championship riders to face the best of the local talent including an Irish national team selection featuring special local interest.
Kilkenny’s Mia Griffin, a World and European Championship track rider, has honed her road racing skills on the roads of Belgium this year and is part of a strong national lineup set to face the best of the international riders in the battle for overall honours.
The best locally based talent includes Tullaroan resident and Kilmacow native Elizabeth Kent racing with the Women’s Cycling Ireland B Squad. She, like all the local riders, is vying for the highly coveted green jersey awarded to the Kilkenny County Council Best Irish Rider.
Ireland’s top international stage race for women again includes four road race stages of varying length and difficulty, a time trial and a circuit race which for a fifth year centres on the beautiful medieval city of Kilkenny.
The 2021 running of the event will follow a similar format to recent years with six stages taking place over five days and, as before, the route offers a variety of challenges, from testing hilly stages, a stage three summit finish, to the stage four time trial where riders will ride solo against the watch on the Tullaroan course back for a third year.
The second stage is a move back to the south of Kilkenny County with a 20km finish circuit in Piltown which will offer spectators several opportunities to see the riders during the day and includes the short climb of the Sweep which will test the mettle of the sprinters.
In welcoming Rás na mBan back to Kilkenny Cathaoirleach Fidelis Doherty said:
“We are delighted to welcome Ras na mBan back to Kilkenny again for 2021 and we are looking forward to watching the racing throughout the county and city.
“I would encourage the public to come out and support the event which has a great spread of stages north and south of the County and in the City. I’d like to wish all the competitors the best of luck particularly a neighbour of mine Kilkenny and Glenmore’s Mia Griffin”
Race Director Valerie Considine believes the 2021 route will challenge the riders and offer an opportunity to further showcase the beauty of Kilkenny City and County:
“The move to Kilkenny five years ago has been overwhelmingly positive for Rás na mBan. The beautiful countryside and wonderful support from Kilkenny makes planning the route an absolute pleasure.
We’ve retained the best aspects of the 2019 route and added two new challenges that could alter the character of the fight for overall honours.
“Our all-new first stage finishing in Callan is a new departure for us with a 13km finishing circuit which will condense the action into a relatively small area and offer fans in the town two opportunities to see the race.
“The hilltop finish on The Cut follows the tough ascent of Wolftrap Mountain and with two tough climbs on the day, it’s sure to be a great challenge.
“The Kilkenny city centre circuit has been a highlight of the event over the last few years. It’s a thrilling spectacle and it’s particularly gratifying for us to be able to bring top class women’s bike racing to the people in such an iconic setting as Kilkenny Castle.
“We’ve had wonderful support from Kilkenny County Council and An Garda Síochana throughout the planning of this event and they have helped smooth the not inconsiderable process of bringing top class bike racing to the county.
“Our major backers continue to make this race possible and it’s gratifying that we have retained the support of so many partners for another year.