By Tommy Campbell
Wales' most promising young rider, Yanto Barber, has obtained a late release from his team DFL in Britain and will now take his place alongside former winner Julian Winn as co-leader in the FBD Insurance Rás, which goes to post Sunday week. Yanto has figured prominently in all the top British races so far this year. His form would suggest that he can be relied upon to give a good account of himself.
On the home front, the Irish national team suffered a setback when Paul Griffin was forced to miss the Rás because of contractual problems with his trade team, Giant Asia. Griffin had targeted the race and his forced withdrawal is a devastating blow to his hopes for a top-three finish. However, while Griffin's experience will be a lost to the Irish team, the selectors were very fortunate in Stephen Gallagher coming into the frame at short notice. This will be the second outing for Stephen in a green jersey this year; he was also a participant in the 2005 Telekom Malaysia Le Tour de Langkawi.
Gallagher will be a huge asset to top pro, Mark Scanlon, as he attempts to add his home tour to his growing list of achievements with his Ag2R. Gallagher and Scanlon are firm friends and regular training partners in the hurly-burly of continental cycling.
The other three riders on the Irish team are also excellent riders, and should Scanlon or Gallagher be marked out of the race, then Brian Keane, Paidi O'Brien and Conor Murphy are capable of snatching a win for Ireland. Stena Ferry Line is the official maritime carrier for the race.