Double race winner and former national champion Olivia Dillon returns to An Post Rás na mBan with the Irish national team in September.
Dillon, a native of Kiltimagh, Co Mayo will swap the colours of her Now and Novartis for MS pro team for the green of Ireland for her third visit to a race she won with the national team in 2010 and 2011.
Having missed last year’s race due to a clash with the World Championships, Dillon returns to head an Irish team packed with talent, experience and potential overall winners of the County Clare based five-day event.
Current national Road Race Champion Melanie Späth is also based in the US this season with the Team Tibco pro team and will have designs on overall victory following a stellar season that includes successfully defending her national road title and a stage win against male opposition in last weekend’s Ballinrobe 2-day.
Späth is a former winner of the County Rider award in Rás na mBan, though her focus will now be on the overall victory, whether for herself or a team-mate.
Reigning National Time Trial Champion Caroline Ryan is another rider with a top international palmarés to go with Rás na mBan experience.
The world track championship bronze medallist from 2012 is currently ranked number one in the UCI rankings in the Individual Pursuit and, having taken victory in the time trial stage of the 2011 Rás, will be eyeing the less mountainous route of this year’s event in County Clare for further opportunities.
Dublin-based Carlow woman Anne Dalton scored a resounding victory in the season-long National League and raced with distinction on the Irish team in last year’s An Post Rás na mBan, surviving the arduous course despite suffering from illness during the event.
The final member of the five-rider team is also one of three US based riders named. Pensylvannia-based Mary Costelloe is a track specialist who counts a fourth place finish in the 2009 World Junior Championship Scratch race among her results. Costelloe sprinted to the bronze medal in the National Road Race Championships in June and scored a fine 10th place in the recent Prudential Ride London Criterium.
Gillian McDarby will manage the squad at the race with the support crew of Sean Mc Nicholl, mechanic, and soigneur Paula Dowling.