By Shane Stokes
As the countdown continues to the start of this year's FBD Insurance RÁS (May 21), race organiser Dermot Dignam has announced the identity of yet another strong foreign team to compete in the UCI 2.2-ranked race.
Following their successful showing in the 2002 edition, the Poland Legia - Bazyliszek team are returning and hope to take up where they left off four years ago. Then, they had an impressive campaign, with Hubert Nowak winning the best young rider competition, taking third place overall, third in the points classification and recording four top five placings on stages.
His team-mate Dariusz Rudnicki won stage five into Midleton, was third on the final stage in Dublin's Phoenix Park, fourth into Castletownbere and fifth in the final points rankings. The squad were best international team on stages four, five and eight, and finished third overall in that classification.
This time round, the team are bringing four new faces. Matysiak Bartlomiej, Milewski Lukasz, Modzelewski Lukasz and Pietrzak Przemyslw are all under 23 riders new to the FBD Insurance RÁS, while 28 year old Jaroslaw Welniak is the sole returning member from that 2002 team.
Directeur sportif Zbigniew Ludwiniak is confident they will perform well. "My team are all up and coming young riders with the exception of Jaroslaw Welniak who is an experienced multi-stage racer," he said. "With this blend of youth and experience we are confident we can make our visit to Ireland a winning one"
Dermot Dignam also expects another fine showing this time round. "The Poland-Legia squad were a good, strong team and I expect them to be fighting it out for the prizes once more," he said. "Its our intention to present the Irish riders with the strongest possible challenge and in addition to the four teams already announced there will be at least another three pro teams in the line-up."
The four international teams already confirmed are the GB - Recycling.co.uk team of defending champion Chris Newton, the USA - TIAA-CREF squad, Norway – Sparebanken Vest and Canada – Symmetrics.
This year's FBD Insurance Rás will begin in Dublin on May 21st and finish eight days and over 1200 kilometres later in Skerries on Sunday May 28th. The world-ranking race will also feature exciting stage finishes in Enniscorthy, Cobh, An Daingean, Listowel, An Cheathru Rua, Westport and Clara.
The event is once again sponsored by FBD Insurance and receives support from the Irish Sports Council.