Newport will host stage two of the 2017 An Post Rás on Monday, May 22. The route for this year’s race is great news for the town of Newport and County Mayo.
Newport has been chosen for the second time in three years. The Rás organisers were clearly impressed by Newport’s welcome in 2015 and gave the town, population 500, a vote of confidence.
“The Rás organisers approached us four months ago and we jumped at the chance,” said Newport’s Fiona Hopkins.
The 2017 Rás takes place from May 21 to May 28. Starting from Dublin Castle, the international peloton heads due west stage to Longford, the first stage finish. Stage two is Newport’s big day. There are no major climbs so this could be one for the sprinters with high speeds expected, unless the weather takes a hand.
Mayo will see plenty of the Rás as it makes its way across the county through Claremorris, Balla, Breaffy, Castlebar and Westport, before taking the rolling road to Newport.
The Newport terrain is almost like a stadium, giving spectators a spectacular view as the leaders swoop from the Westport Road down to the riverside. Riders must then negotiate the narrow bridge and finally sprint to the Main Street finish line.
Stage three on Tuesday starts from Newport and strikes north via Glenhest, Crossmolina and Ballina to finish in Bundoran.
The next three days in Donegal could decide the final outcome, with hills all the way, including first-category climbs of Mamore Gap and Glengash Pass.
Then it’s two comparatively easy stages to Skerries, where the crowds will be out to welcome the winners at the end of the 65th edition of the Rás.STAGE BY STAGE
Sunday, May 21, Stage 1: Dublin-Longford, 146km;
May 22, Stage 2: Longford-Newport, 142km;
May 23, Stage 3: Newport–Bundoran, 149km;
May 24, Stage 4: Bundoran-Buncrana, 151km;
May 25, Stage 5: Buncrana-Dungloe, 181km;
May 26, Stage 6: Dungloe–Donegal, 132km;
May 27, Stage 7: Donegal-Ardee, 167km;
May 28, Stage 8: Ardee-Skerries, 129km.