Donegal is set to feature in the 2017 An Post Rás.
The challenging route was released this week and Donegal is set to feature prominently, with five of the eight stages based in the county.
Among the 1200 kilometres will be two of the most difficult climbs and accents in the country – Mamore Gap and Glengesh Pass.
The 65th edition of the race will start at Dublin Castle travelling clockwise around Ireland with stage finishes in Longford, Newport, Bundoran, Buncrana, Dungloe, Donegal town and Ardee before the customary finale in Skerries.
The last time the Rás came to the county was five years ago in 2012.
This time around stage three will finish in Bundoran, before the riders tackle over 460 kilometres through the Donegal terrain on Wednesday 24th, Thursday 25th and Friday 26th May.
Stage four will feature Ballyshannon to Letterkenny and then onto Buncrana, Stage five will leave Inishowen heading for Ramelton, Fanad, Carrigart, Falcarragh and a finish in Dungloe while Stage Six takes in Glenties, Ardara, Kilcar, Killybegs and a Donegal Town finish.
Donegal native and former An Post rider Ronan McLaughlin was on hand to launch this year’s route,
McLaughlin, who came heartbreakingly close in 2012 to winning a stage following an heroic solo ride in to Bundoran, has his sights set on securing that elusive stage win this time around.
“I’m really looking forward to this year’s An Post Rás with five days being spent in my hometown of Donegal. I went very close in Bundoran in 2012 but it just wasn’t to be so the aim of winning a stage in Donegal is still on my mind. The route is definitely challenging on first glance but it has something to suit every rider so it should be a very exciting from a neutrals point of view. It would be great to see more domestic riders, similar to Eoin in 2016, winning a stage again this year. That’s the challenge for us county riders and that’s also the beauty of the Rás.”
An Post Rás 2017 (Total: 1199.8 kilometres):
Stage 1, Sunday May 21: Dublin to Longford (146.1 kilometres)
Stage 2, Monday May 22: Longford to Newport (142.9 kilometres)
Stage 3, Tuesday May 23: Newport to Bundoran (149 kilometres)
Stage 4, Wednesday May 24: Bundoran to Buncrana (151.8 kilometres)
Stage 5, Thursday May 25: Buncrana to Dungloe (181.2 kilometres)
Stage 6, Friday May 26: Dungloe to Donegal (132.1 kilometres)
Stage 7, Saturday May 27: Donegal to Ardee (167.3 kilometres)
Stage 8, Sunday May 28: Ardee to Skerries (129.4 kilometres)