The local challenge for An Post Rás na mBan 2014 has been revealed with the release of the six Irish-based squads preparing to take on international opposition in County Clare next week.
As well as the five-rider national team including reigning champion Olivia Dillon, the cream of local racing talent will be on show in the five-day event which gets under way in Ennis on Wednesday week, 10th September.
The local riders will be aiming for success in the Best Irish Rider classification supported once more by Clare County Council. The leader of the competition wears the distinctive Clare County Council green jersey each day.
Team Munster, Dublin Towers Cycling Club, Dublin Orwell Wheelers, Westmeath Lakeside Wheelers, Dublin Joe Daly Cycles and Dublin DID Electrical Cycle4Life RT are the teams heading into Ireland’s toughest bike race on the back of successful domestic seasons.
Past Rás na mBan stage winner and 2013 Clare County Council County Rider jersey winner Fiona Meade heads up the Team Munster lineup and the lightning fast Cork sprinter will once again be expected to shine in the the group finishes. Meade heads to Clare with the backing of Tipperary’s Martina Cronin, Cork’s Nicola Doherty and Kerry-based duo Teresa O’Sullivan and Lisa Stapelbroek.
Dublin Towers Cycling Club is a new addition to the race lineup with Lisa Darley Ronan and Eimear O’Reilly having made a debut appearance in Rás na mBan the focus of their racing activity for the year. Team-mates Máire Claffey and Catherine McAteer will draw on the experience of Rás veteran Niamh Stephens throughout the challenge of the six stages.
Dublin Orwell Wheelers have been ever-present in Rás na mBan over the years though, remarkably, just one of their 2014 selection has prior Rás na mBan experience. Ciara Kinch is one of the most consistent riders on the local scene with a string of top six finishes in the National League this season. She’ll be accompanied by star newcomer Aideen Keenan, Ann Horan, Claire McEntee and Birmingham-based Irish guest Lydia Gurley.
Westmeath Lakeside Wheelers also have a couple of British-based guests in their lineup with Michelle O’Halloran, Sonja O’Mahoney and Karen Robinson joined by Rás na mBan regular Julie Erskine and up and coming star Jessica Walker.
Stalwart women’s cycling supporters Joe Daly Cycles have assembled a multi-national team including Derry powerhouse Tonya Moran, Dubliner Helen Kerrane, India-based Irish woman Vicki Nicholson, England’s Rebecca Carter and marathon speed skating star Danielle Bekkering from the Netherlands.
Finally, Dublin DID Electrical Cycle4Life Racing Team have again assembled an all-star lineup with former Team Ireland and Leinster squad member Fiona Guihen and Dublin-based Englishwomen Hannah Ormesher joined by guests Claire Thomas (from Scotland via Belgium), Tayler Wiles (USA) and Ivy Audrain (USA).