With the race start just over two weeks away, Norwegian team Sparebanken Vest have become the latest professional squad confirmed for the 2005 FBD Insurance Rás. It joins teams from the Czech Republic, Estonia, USA, France, Germany, Britain, Scotland and Wales for the eight day, 2.2 ranked event, which this year will feature the biggest number of riders in its 53 year history.
The squad will be lead by thirty year-old Are Andresen, who finished a close second in last year's Tour of Bulgaria, took third overall in the Norwegian Cup and who is a member of his country's time trial championship team. The other four riders, Morten Christiansen, Morten Hegreberg, Gabriel Rasch and Stian Remme, are also strong enough to play a big part in the race.
Christiansen has taken two wins and a second place in the last three editions of the Norwegian Cup, won three stages of the Tour of Hungary and was best climber in the international Ringerike Grand Prix. He notched up eight other victories last year. Hegreberg has been in fine form this season, winning the UCI-ranked GP Ottergem and the GP Aalst Criterium. He has finished in the first four in the last three Norwegian road championships.
Team manager Per-Ivar Bøe, is expecting a top-notch performance from the squad: "My team are all very experienced multi-stage race riders and we are confident we can make our first-ever visit to Ireland a winning one," he said.
Sparebanken Vest will travel from mainland Europe courtesy of FBD Insurance Rás race backer Stena Ferry Line, which is bringing many of the overseas teams to this year's race. They will arrive on Saturday 21st May and get their campaign underway the following morning. This year's FBD Insurance Rás features stage finishes in Emyvale, Tubbercurry, Lisdoonvarna, Templemore, Abbeyleix, Rathdrum, Wicklow Town and Dublin's Phoenix Park.