By Shane Stokes
The Irish national squad for the eight-day, world-ranked event was announced on Thursday. National road race champion David McCann will lead the Subway Eat Fresh Irish Team, which will be backed by the sandwich company. He has been showing good form this year while racing in the US with the Colavita Sutter Home pro team. Paul Griffin has also been riding well in international competition with the Giant Asia team and while he would undoubtedly prefer a hillier FBD Insurance Rás, he should be prominent.
The team is completed by Dermot Nally, Martyn Irvine and former world junior champion Mark Scanlon. Irvine is one of the country's most promising young riders while Nally and Scanlon have both taken stage wins in the race.
Scanlon's presence in the team will generate interest. He won the junior world championship nine years ago and rode the Tour de France in 2004, but has been showing signs of a lack of motivation for the past couple of seasons. He was due to race this year with the Toyota United Pro team but has not done so, returning to Ireland earlier in the season prior to his scheduled season-opener, the Tour of California. However, it is hoped that taking part in the FBD Insurance Rás will help build his condition, with a view to becoming part of Cycling Ireland's new track programme.
Subway Eat Fresh Ireland manager Cian Lynch is expecting a strong showing. "This team has great strength and depth. Mc Cann has a great record in this race, claiming the overall in 2004, while Griffin, Nally and Scanlon have all scored stage wins in the Rás. The sole Espoir on the team, Martyn Irvine, has impressed with his rides on the U23 Espoirs National Team at Picardie and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, culminating with a win on the first stage of the Tour of Ulster."
The Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn Group/M. Donnelly Sean Kelly team, Ireland's only Continental squad, will also take part. Paídi O'Brien, Mark Cassidy, Stephen Gallagher, Simon Kelly and Danish rider Glenn Bak will line out for the Belgium-based team.