As the An Post Rás na mBan teams complete their preparations ahead of stage one of this year’s event in Sneem next Sunday, the crack Danish Reelight-BikeToyz-Kvickly Odder squad are getting set to travel to Ireland for the first time.
The Danish team run by Brian Henriksen brings a small but talented team of three top young racers that look likely to animate the action in the Ring of Kerry in Ireland’s premier stage race for women.
Junior racer Amalie Dideriksen heads to Kerry fresh from road race success in the Acta Fuse Race three weeks ago. Amalie Winther Olsen also races at Junior level and has also been in race winning form of late in Denmark. At 19 Kamilla Sofie Vallin is the elder stateswoman of the squad but she too has contributed to the team’s impressive tally of 26 road race wins this season.
Meanwhile two Dutch squads with a long history at Rás na mBan return to Kerry this year with their eyes on overall glory in the five-day, six stage event.
Chris Rouw’s NWVG Bike 4 AIR-Dames team has a new sponsor this year and brings a roster of seven riders to the event. Femke Van Kessel finished fifth in the final stage last year and 15th overall after riding herself steadily into the race. The 23-year-old will be joined by first year senior Charlotte lenting, Hilda Oudman, Mary Rose Postma, Donke Sjonkers, Ingrid Rouw and Japanese rider Yukiyo Hori.
The District Team NH/WTC de Amstel team of Rás na mBan stalwart Herman Schenk includes Silja Visser who finished 20th in last year’s event. She will be joined by junior rider Riejanne Markus and 23-year-old Talissa van der Fluit.
The Dutch and Danish teams face the daunting challenge of over 400 kilometres of hard racing on some of the most storied climbs in Irish racing history. Sunday’s action kicks off with a relatively short road stage of 66km followed by a 3km time trial in the afternoon before the tough climbing stages begin in earnest on Monday morning.
The event is based for the fifth time this year at Sneem Hotel, County Kerry.