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Estonian team aiming for RAS glory

By Shane Stokes

The third in what promises to be a strong line-up of overseas teams has been announced for this year’s FBD Insurance RÁS.

Two years after Sigvard Kukk took three top ten placings en route to 11th overall, the Estonia-Kalev Chocolate team are heading back to Ireland for the world-ranked race.

Kukk is no longer with the team, but 26 year old Mart Ojavee is likely to lead the squad. He was part of the 2005 line-up, taking 13th on stage four, and together with Andrei Mustonen will benefit from the experience of competing here in the past. Five man teams plus very aggressive racing means that the FBD Insurance Rás requires different tactics to other international events. This makes it difficult for first-time teams to win.

The squad will be completed by Alo Jakin, Silvar Kibur and Markku Ainsalu. "As Estonia’s only pro team, Kalev Chocolate should be a real threat," said race director Dermot Dignam this week. "They have the pick of the best riders in the country and with their previous experience of the FBD RÁS, which is a big advantage, are certainly coming here with the intention of leaving their mark on the race."

Estonia Kalev Chocolate now join the Germany - Thuringer Energie and Czech Republic - AC Sparta Praha squads as continental teams confirmed as heading to Ireland for the UCI 2.2 ranked event. Several more will be announced in the weeks ahead, making it likely that this year’s race will be a very competitive one.

The 2007 FBD Insurance RÁS will get underway on Sunday May 20th with a 157 kilometre stage from Naas to Templemore. The riders will cover almost 1200 kilometres of flat-out racing as they travel anticlockwise around the country, taking in additional stage finishes at Loughrea, Sligo, Dungloe, Buncrana, Derry, Newcastle and Skerries.