By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Navigators rider and former Ras winner Ciarán Power is hopeful that he'll be a serious contender in the FBD Insurance Ras which started today in Tallaght, Co. Dublin. Power, who won this race in 1998 and 2002, is making his comeback from a serious injury and has shown excellent progress in recent weeks.
Last weekend he won the Kelly Pharmacy Grand Prix in Dungarvan and prior to that competed strongly in the Tour of Ulster and the Tommy Sheehan Memorial races. The ‘Ras' is his return to full scale racing in 2006, and according to Navigators manager Ed Beamon they'll be easing him back into full race mode carefully. "It was important that Ciarán wasn't under pressure of having National Team responsibilities," said Beamon. "He'll definitely make his play for a stage or two, but I don't expect a week long effort from him."
Beamon is looking further into the season as a time when Power will be challenging for race wins, not necessarily at this early stage in his return. "Equally important for the Navigator boys that he acquires the fitness and recovery for the events in the States in early June," said Beamon.
"I am happy that we have two team members of the Navigators Insurance riders competing in their 'national tour.' It should be fun to watch them compete against each other this one time," added the experienced team manager, speaking about his other Irish charge, David O'Loughlin, who will be riding on the Grant Thornton Irish National team against his pro team stablemates.
"Obviously both guys have very different objectives, and more or less that is exactly why they are competing on different squads," said Beamon, who is also happy to see what O'Loughlin is capable of, albeit on a different team. "David will be on the Irish National team, and he will be making every effort to make his team get a top result. Plus of course, he hopes to be competitive for the overall himself," he said.