By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent
Dermot Dignam, organiser of the Ireland's premier stage race, the FBD Insurance Ras (May 21-28) is planning to shake up this year's event with a major change to the format of the last couple of days.
In past years, the 'Ras' finished on a short circuit race in places like the Phoenix Park and O'Connell Street. These finals days were visual treats for the fans, but tended to have little effect on the overall classification. This year, Dignam plans a tough finale on the road to Skerries.
According to Dignam, "those competitors who will have a major say in the destination of this year's race will have be wide awake to what faces them on the final stage to Skerries. Heretofore, the penultimate stage was the talk of the race for many days because of the severity of the course."
"Now with the selection of Skerries as the venue for the grand finale and the inclusion of two tough laps bringing the riders through the town on three occasions the race will go right down to the wire. Following seven tough stages around Ireland, the riders will line out in Clara, county Offaly on Sunday May 28 with 155 kilometres still to be covered. The route will take them over twisting, undulating roads and through towns such as Kinnegad, Trim, Dunshaughlin, The Naul and Balrothery, before the peloton arrives in Skerries and begins two laps of the 13.8 kilometre circuit," said Dermot.