By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
The weather has certainly not been kind to the participants and it has also been a major talking point to date in this year's FBD Insurance Ras. There has been tremendous interest in the various classifications, especially in the county teams section, which looks as though it will come right down to the wire in Skerries on Sunday.
In recent years that classification for the county competitors has been a big bonus, and the rivalry has been intense. Realistically, only Dublin and Meath are in contention after six days of racing, with the minimum of time separating these two teams. On the football field, both counties enjoy similar rivalry and are always a huge draw and a big talking point. Similarly in cycling, the competition is intense, and this week both sets of team members have been at their best.
Dublin, sponsored by Usher Irish Road club, can thank Tommy Evans, a former winner of the Ras in 1996 for keeping them in contention. Likewise, Brian Kenneally is keeping alive the hopes of the Meath squad sponsored by MyHome.ie/Cycleways.com.
Up to the start of the 'Ras' both Tommy and Brian had not been figuring prominently in domestic events, but in recent days both have been the cornerstone of their respective counties' dominance. Evidently they have both focused their ambitions on a good showing in Ireland's premier cycling event.
If Meath succeeds, it would be a huge bonus to their new co-sponsor, MyHome.ie, who only last month joined forces with long-time sponsors Cycleways.com. "Believe you me, success in the county section of the event would be a real bonus. You can observe the fascination that the rivalry between the teams is great," said Aidan Crowley, who only a week ago was in doubt of racing in the eight day event because of illness.
The 54th edition of the Ras finishes in Skerries on Sunday afternoon after 1,000 plus kilometres of racing, where the foul weather was the talking point, both amongst the competitors who braved the conditions and the officials.