Ireland's Rás Tailteann stage race – often better known simply as 'the Rás' – will not take place as a UCI-ranked event in 2019, the organisers have announced.
Race director Eimear Dignam said that she's "extremely disappointed" not to have been able to find a major backer in time to stage the 2019 race at UCI 2.2 level. Instead, it's hoped that a shorter, non-UCI-ranked, race may still be organised, with the hope of the event returning to its previous international status in 2020.
The Rás has been run every year since 1953, and has been a UCI-ranked event since 2000. Past winners have included four-time champion Sé O'Hanlon in the 1960s, and 1987 Tour de France winner Stephen Roche (1979), as well as current WorldTour pros Tony Martin of Jumbo-Visma (2007), AG2R La Mondiale's Gediminas Bagdonas (2011) and Bora-Hansgrohe's Lukas Pöstlberger (2015).
"We've exhausted all opportunities in relation to sponsorship for a UCI race this year," said Dignam.
"I'm extremely disappointed. I've been involved in the race my whole life. But I'm satisfied that I explored every opportunity to us to secure a sponsorship. We never envisaged that it would come to an end like this, but hopefully it won't be an end."
Talks with potential sponsors in the lead-up to the race haven't resulted in any commitments to back the race in time.
"We couldn't drag things out for more weeks; we have already waited a long time to try to get something finalised. We are open to continuing those talks, though, and will do what we can to bring back the international event next year," said Dignam in a statement published on the event's Facebook page on Thursday.
"The 2019 international event will be put on hold with the hopes of coming back stronger in 2020," she said. "There may be an option there for a three or four-day race to be run by a separate organisation committee. It would be a smaller, non-UCI race. Those discussions will be held in the coming weeks.
"Our hopes are that a smaller race will happen in 2019 and then the full international race will come back stronger than ever in 2020."