By Shane Stokes
The organiser of the 2.2 ranked FBD Insurance Rás has announced plans to readjust the standard of the Irish race by inviting a reduced number of Continental teams to take part from 2008 onwards.
Concerned that the changes which have occurred in recent years have made things very difficult for the amateur riders who enter each season, Dermot Dignam has said that a revision will take place.
"The FBD Insurance Rás has a world-wide reputation as a highly competitive and unpredictable race," he said in a press release. "This is due mostly to the unique mix of international and county riders.
"As it is important we maintain that status, the concern would be that pro teams may gain too much of a controlling effect on the racing, and thus reduce the potential winners to the leaders of the strongest pro teams."
A similar number of countries [at least 10] are expected to be represented as was the case in 2007. However the emphasis will be on national, regional and top-level sponsored amateur teams, hence the planned reduction in numbers of Continental teams.
"For 2008 there will be a greater spread of teams, including pro teams," Dignam continued. "So we are looking forward to a great race where the winner is as likely to come from a county team as from a pro team."
This year's race will take place from May 18th – 25th. The route is currently being finalised and is expected to be unveiled shortly.
German rider Tony Martin triumphed last season. The 22-year-old was competing in the race as part of the Germany Thuringer Energy squad, and will shortly make his professional debut with Team High Road.