After a protracted period of planning and negotiation Orwell Secretary Dave McLoughlin has confirmed that the club will send a four-rider team to the five-day Ras de Cymru in July.  

The event, based in Newport, is the premier stage race in Wales catering for second, third and fourth category riders and runs from 6th to 10th July. With six stages in five days, there is something for every type of rider including a prologue time trial, a team time trial and four road stages on hilly terrain for a total of 400km of racing. 

The Orwell team will be heavily subsidised by the club and it is intended that selection to compete in such a prestigious event should represent a major season target for all riders below first category standard.  "For some time we've been looking at sending a team to a race abroad and Ras de Cymru looks absolutely perfect," says FBD Ras veteran McLoughlin. "We wanted an event that would be challenging but accessible enough to make it a realistic goal for as many of our riders as possible."

While the race welcomes riders from second to fourth category, the 'parcours' looks really challenging and is sure to favour climbers, especially later in the week.  "Added to that, the fact the majority of the riders are billeted in the University of Wales, Newport for the week will add greatly to the atmosphere."

Rather than simply select the four strongest A2 riders in the club, the committee have decided that the team will be made up of the top two A2 riders, the top A3 and the top A4.  The selection criteria are designed so that the most consistent performers in open races up to the cut-off date of the 19th of June will be rewarded with selection. Put simply, the riders with the highest number of placings winning Cycling Ireland upgrade points will be rewarded with a spot on the team. Each finishing position winning CI upgrade points (regardless of position) will earn a point towards Ras de Cymru selection. A finishing position in the top ten of a stage race will earn two points. In the event of a tiebreak a rider’s top finish will carry the day and if riders are still tied then the number of ‘unplaced’ prizes or prizes awarded outside of CI upgrade points positions will be calculated to make the selection.

A rider will compete for a position in the category they start the season, regardless of whether they are upgraded before the end of the selection period. If a rider gains an upgrade before Ras de Cymru then they would be counted for the category they start the year in and would continue to count all their placings up to the deadline regardless of the category they were won in. To be clear, a rider who is A3 at the deadline but started the year as an A4 can win the A4 slot on the team. If the top A2 rider gets upgraded before the event then they will forfeit a place on the Ras de Cymru team.

If for whatever reason we don't have enough riders from a category available to ride then the next most eligible rider from the category immediately below would get the nod. In the case of no A4 we would select the next qualified A3.

There will be no gender distinction in selecting the team. Women-only races won’t count for selection purposes.

Regarding cost, it is anticipated that riders may have to make a contribution of between €200 and €300 which has to be seen as excellent value for a five-day stage race outside Ireland. Further fundraising activity may reduce that number. 

Riders are asked to contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if they do not wish to be considered for selection. Otherwise all riders over 18 and below A1 will be considered for selection.

As things currently stand Daniel Whiting is the man in pole position to win the A4 spot on the team with three top six finishes in his first three mass start open races. Patrick O’Brien and Gavin Dodd also announced their candidature with placings in Newbridge last Sunday. Brian Ahern’s sixth place in Summerhill on the opening weekend of open action means he has the early advantage in the race for one of the two A2 spots on the team. As yet, no Orwell A3 rider has won CI ranking points.

“The selection criteria was the subject of much thought and discussion at committee level,” says McLoughlin. “What we’re looking for is the most consistent performers at open race level. While we’re aware that a rider might win a race and miss out on a place to a rider with three sixths, we were particularly keen to avoid a situation where a ‘flash in the pan’ ride trumped a strong, consistent rider. For the first year, at least, we wanted to have a transparent selection process rather than appoint a selection committee. We can have a look at it for next year, if necessary, because I really hope a serious racing trip abroad becomes an annual event for the club.”

Further updates will appear on the website as the deadline approaches and watch out on the forum for further discussion.

For further information see the official race website here.