WHERE TO WATCH THE RACE
Want to check out the action in Ireland’s top international stage race for women?
The 13th edition of An Post Rás na mBan kicks off in Kilkenny on Wednesday 5th September and the best women bike riders from Ireland and abroad are busy making their preparations for the five-day epic.
Full route details for the 2018 edition and tips on attending the event will be announced in due course. In the meantime, see below for a reminder of the shape and character of the 2017 race.
Riders from a total of 15 different countries making up 25 squads did battle over 400km of racing on six separate stages across the five days on some of the most beautiful roads in and around County Kilkenny.
This was our guide to the best places to catch the action during the week.
Stage One – Wednesday 6th September 62km
Coppenagh – 27km
Time Expected: 18.39pm
After rolling out from the stage start at the Springhill Court Hotel in Kilkenny it’s likely that a large group will still be together approaching the first categorised climb of the week at Coppenagh when the group will start to thin out. Why not combine it with a trip to historic Graguenamangh on the banks of the Barrow six km later and try to make time for a visit to historic Duiske Abbey.
Stage Two – Thursday 8th September 74km
Castlecomer – 0km, 33km, 74km
Time Expected: 12pm, 12.50pm and 13.50pm
This tough stage kicks off at the Discovery Park in the beautiful village of Castlecomer and loops back through the village at the halfway point before returning to finish in Castlecomer after 74 tough kilometres.
See the riders tackle the tough second category climb after 29.2km before the plunge down to the village Why not take in a walk in the Discovery Park in the former grounds of the Wandesforde Estate while you wait.
Stage Three – Friday 9th September 110km
Nine Stones, Mount Leinster 110km
Time Expected: 14.45pm
This epic stage will go a long way to deciding who dons the overall winner’s Rás na mBan jersey in 2018. This is the first summit finish in the history of the race and, uniquely, the final two categorised hills of the day come in quick succession. By the time the leading riders emerge into view, they’ll have three tough days of racing in their legs and there’s sure to be a lot of distance between the first and last rider to complete. Stay and cheer them all on and why not bring your bike and try the hill for yourself?
Stage Four – Saturday 10th September 11k
Waterford Road – Honda Individual Time Trial start and finish
Time Expected: 10am-12.16pm
Unique among the six stages, the riders race alone against the clock in the shortest stage of the event but one that is sure to have a big influence on the general classification. Riders roll down the Honda Ireland start ramp on the Waterford Road and finish this short, sharp shock of a stage close by in a straight ‘out and back’ test.
Stage Five – Saturday 10th September 40km
Kilkenny Castle – Circuit Centre ‘Criterium’ Race Start and Finish
Time Expected: 6.30pm to 7.20pm.
What is likely to be the fastest stage of the race is very much one for the speed merchants with a spectacular big bunch sprint the aim for those with the right combination of skill, power and daring. There’s plenty for the spectator to see at the start line beside the historic medieval Kilkenny Castle as the riders appear every three minutes or so racing through approximately 18 laps of the 2.1 kilometre circuit and sprinting regularly for intermediate ‘prime’ prizes along the way. Who’ll be first through the final corner with 150 metres to go?
Stage Six – Sunday 11th September 82km
Woodstock Climb, Inistioge – 43.2km
Time Expected: 12.35pm
The riders will coax weary legs into action for the final push, an 82km circuitous route through south Kilkenny to Inistioge before tackling the steep ascent of Woodstock where the strongest will be planning a final ambush. See the riders on the climb and then take the short route back through Bennett’s bridge to see the conclusion of the stage at Kilkenny Castle.
Soak up the atmosphere and welcome the riders home where the overall winner will be crowned and each of the remaining riders in the event will claim their much coveted An Post Rás na mBan finisher’s medal.