WHERE TO WATCH THE RACE
Want to check out the action in Ireland’s top international stage race for women?
The 15th edition of Rás na mBan kicks off in Kilkenny on Wednesday 8th September and the best women bike riders from Ireland and abroad are busy making their preparations for the five-day epic.
Riders from a total of 13 different countries are set to do 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.
Here’s our guide to the best places to catch the action during the week. It’s going to be an epic week of top class bike racing. Here’s where to see all the action.
Stage One – Wednesday 8th September 72km
Callan – 59km, 72km
Time Expected: From 18.05, 18.25
An all-new opening stage takes the riders from Springhill Court Hotel west to the lovely town of Callan passing through Knocktopher, Newmarket, Kilmaganny and Skough on the way. The climbs if Curragawn and Cussaun will serve to open up the battle for the Wicklow 200 Queen of the Mountains competition before the riders arrive in Callan to begin a final 13km loop around the town. They’ll race to glory on Green Street where the first race leader’s magenta jersey of the week will be presented.
Stage Two – Thursday 9th September 90km
Piltown – 50km, 70km, 90km
Time Expected: From 13.10, 13.37 and 14.05
This popular stage, making its second appearance, kicks off at Springhill Court Hotel and sends the riders south of Kilkenny to the beautiful ton of Piltown where they will join a 19km finishing circuit to be completed twice. Riders will cross the finishing line three times and the circuit includes a tough climb at The Sweep. Spectators may want to see the riders on the Sweep once before heading back into Piltown to see which riders have survived at the front to contest stage honours on Main Street.
Stage Three – Friday 10th September 110km
The Cut, Slieve Blooms County Laois 110km
Time Expected: From 14.30pm
This epic all-new stage will go a long way to telling us who can win Rás na mBan 2021. This is the toughest day of climbing in the race and a second visit to the beautiful Slieve Blooms region in Laois. Following a fast opening segment through Crettyard, Stradbally and into Portlaoise, the riders will charge towards Mountmellick and the arduous ascent of the Wolftrap climb. From the descemt it’s straight into the final 4.4km climb to the finish on The Cut. 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 11th September 6.4km
Tullaroan–Individual Time Trial start and finish
Time Expected: From 10am-12.13pm
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 start ramp outside Tullaroan GAA club and ride up the challenging climb to the beautiful setting of the wind farm at Ballybay.
Riders race at minute intervals so there’s plenty of opportunity to cheer each rider in their personal challenge against the course and the watch.
Stage Five – Saturday 11th September 40km
Kilkenny Castle – Circuit Centre ‘Criterium’ Race Start and Finish
Time Expected: From 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 8th September 90km
Woodstock Climb, Inistioge – 46km
Time Expected: From 12.30pm
The riders will coax weary legs into action for the final push, a 90km 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 Gowran and up the Medieval Mile in Kilkenny 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 Rás na mBan finisher’s medal.
RÁS NA MBAN ON TV!
This year’s event is being filmed for a highlights programme to be broadcast on TV in the days after the final stage. Check here for up to date viewing times.
FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE
Check out twitter, facebook and instagram for regular race updates, videos and photos through the week. @rasnamban #rasnamban