Rás Tailteann is an eight-day, international stage race around Ireland - for the past number of years it was know as "The An Post Rás" or simply "The Rás".

It is the premier cycle race for men in Ireland and attracts top level International and Domestic teams. The Rás is known and feared for its' grueling stages and long days in the saddle. Those who complete the event get to proudly call themselves Men of the Rás - a badge of honour that can never be taken away.

This year the event will start on Sunday 20th May and finish in Skerries, Co Dublin on Sunday 27th May 2018.

Scott Orwell Wheelers has a very long and proud tradition of entering teams in The Rás. 2018 will be no exception. In the lead up to the event we are doing a series of profiles on the riders and support team.We asked each rider a series of questions in an attempt to get to know them a little better.

We cant forget the team management either so we also asked the same questions to Ken O'Neill, who is starting his second Rás as Team Manager, and his trusted sidekick and mechanic, Kilian Doyle. Here is what they had to say -

Name: Ken O'Neill

Age: 46

Home town: Chapelizod Dublin

Number of years with Scott Orwell: 5 years

Bike(s): Sworks Tarmac, Orbea Orca, Bianchi Pico D2 TT

Favourite training route: When I first started cycling, out to Enniskerry and back was my favourite route as it had a little bit of everything, but now it has to be out the Coast Road, Rathnew, Rathdrum, Laragh, Djouce, Enniskerry on a crisp winter morning.

Favourite Race: Racing the IVCA. Great racing and a great bunch of people.

Best race result: 1st IVCA Scratch Race, 3rd Seamus Kennedy A3, 1st 100Mile TT 2017 and 2017 A3 Leinster TT Champion
Favourite cycling memory: Coming 4th overall at the Kanturk 3 day and getting my upgrade to A3, it took a while but I eventually got there

Worst or funniest cycling moment: Crashing descending Slieve Mann at 65kph, Ouch. This was actually the worst and funniest moment. Worst was the shock of hitting the tarmac at that speed followed by the pain, funniest was listening to Gar Connelly and the lads arguing over who was going to phone my wife, Colette, while Billy Parker cradled me like an baby on the side of the road. I got to know some really great people that day.

Cycling hero: Keith Harte, both on and off the bike. Keith's strength and determination was inspirational.

Most likely to be heard saying:  Can't compete with those sprinters but I was in plenty of breaks 😊

 

Kilian Doyle is going into his second Rás as mechanic this year and has also been talked into taking over the Scott Orwell Wheeler Twitter feed for the week! We are looking forward to his insights from the back seat of the team car:)


Name: Kilian Doyle

Age: Much closer to 50 than I like to admit

Home town: Dublin but I’ve escaped to rural Kildare

Number of years with Scott Orwell: Five

Bike(s): Four

How many hours a week do you train: Not enough, obviously.

Favourite training route: The one with the permanent tailwind.

Favourite Race:  To watch:  Paris Roubaix. To ride:  Des Hanlon. Because I’m a masochist.

Best race result: Any race when I don’t crash is a victory.

Favourite cycling memory:  Kanturk Three Day in 2016. We won the GC, the Team Prize, and two of the four stages, including the best performance I’ve ever been witness to, Graham Scanlon’s 40km solo break to win the stage and nearly pip Eoin Ahern to the GC.  All under the watchful eye of a marshall named Eddie Dunbar.

Worst or funniest cycling moment:  Bouncing 20 feet on my arse over the line into a parked car  on stage one of Charleville last year.  They gave me 11th place, just outside the points. I was ragin’.

Cycling hero:  Sean Kelly.  On the rivet.

Most likely to be heard saying: I crashed again.

 

RIDERS:

Our first two rider profiles are on Eoin Ahern and Bernard English. Eoin and Bernard are Rás debutants this year! Eoin is the youngest member of the team so we hope the others look after him;)

Name: Eoin Ahern

Age: 30

Home town: Rathfarnham

Number of years with Scott Orwell: This is my 3rd year with the club

Bike(s): Recently upgraded to the elegantly named Planet X EC130E, but I still love my 2011 Specialized Allez which got me all the way up to A1. Unfortunately neutral service no longer keeps 9 speed wheels in the car, so my hand was forced a little on this one! The Planet X is a super bike too though, just ask Paul Forristal!

How many hours a week do you train: Rarely less than 10 hours

Favourite training route: Kilmashogue and Ticknock trails on my cyclocross bike in blizzard conditions. If the weather doesn't allow for that, then I'll head up Cruagh Road and see where my mood takes me from there!

Favourite Race: I quite like the Wexford 2 Day, a couple of challenging road stages and a good steep hill climb thrown in as well. Plus I get to stock up on strawberries while I'm down that way!

Best race result: 11th place in the Noel O'Neill trophy in the Phoenix Park last May is my top placing in an A1 race. I did taste some glory at the lower levels, winning the overall GC and Stage 3 of the Kanturk 3 Day A4 race in 2016, as well as the A3 Rás Ceatharlach in the same year.

Favourite cycling memory: Chatting and getting my photo taken with Eddie Dunbar, moments after I took my first race victory in the Kanturk A4. He was back home helping out his local club, with one arm in a sling nursing a broken collarbone, and a red marshal's flag in the other!

Worst or funniest cycling moment: Definitely not a funny one! Descending from Bormio 2000 ski station on a crappy old rental bike almost one year ago to the day. Poor brakes, combined with a fast descent into a tight hairpin, resulted in me slicing my knee open on a rusty steel roadside barrier and somersaulting into the ditch. And on the first day of our week long Giro holiday! Resulted in a partially severed patellar tendon and 4 days in hospital high up in the Italian Alps. Could just make out Philip Deignan (well, a person in Sky colours anyway) in the break as the race passed through the valley beneath a couple of days later. Then another 6 weeks with my left leg straight out in a brace when I got home. So that put an end to my 2017 road season...

Cycling hero: Taylor Phinney has really inspired me over the past year. He suffered a similar (but actually far worse) injury to me and came back stronger than ever. Reading his blogs and following his progress in his debut Tour de France last July really helped motivate me to stick to the physio and rehab routines and get back racing.

Most likely to be heard saying: It's grand, sure I'll cycle off all the extra calories anyway.

 

And now our other "debutant - Bernard English. Stage 2 is has a special meaning for Bernard this year.....

Name: Bernard English

Age: 35

Home Town: Oola , Co.Limerick (we visit on stage 2 Ras this year, very proud moment for me if lucky enough to make it past day 1!!)

Number of years with Scott Orwell: I think 6 years, can't be 100% sure but it was before Strava was a thing?

Bike(s): Trek Émonda, referred to as the snot-mobile thanks to Jamie Busher due to its colour. Focus Cayo Evo (no nickname).

Training hours: average x12ish but sometimes went close to 18/20 in prep for Ràs

Favourite training route: So many to choose from it's ridiculous but I always find myself taking in Cruagh-bohernabreena-slade road-seskin-ballysmutton-valleymount-back of the lakes- kippure-SallyGap and the army firing range just off borhernabreena to home. The roads and scenery are better than anywhere in the world.

Favourite Race: like the training routes, loads. The Suir Valley-Nenagh Classic-Laragh Classic-Shay Elliot (*im an aul devil for a classic!!).

Best Race Result: 2nd @ A3 Nationals Cong & my only ever win Dunsany GP A4 (*oh the glamour).

Favourite cycling Memory: The fund raising cycle for Keith Harte. A vivid reminder of how kind generous and brilliant the cycling community are. Not surprising when it's for such a strong tenacious and wonderful man as Keith and his family are. I only wish we had more miles on the road together.

Worst cycling moment: not wining the A3 Nationals

Cycling hero: Sean Kelly

Most likely to be heard saying: "that fella is as hard as a honey badger"

 

Next on the Rider Profile list is our “International” entry Manual Fontan. Bonus fact on Manual is that he was on the team which recently won the Quiz of the Rás Tablequiz so he is fast on the bike and knows his stuff!!

Name: Manuel Fontan

Age: 36

Home town: Nigran (Spain)

Number of years with Scott Orwell: 4

Bike(s): Bh Ultralight RC

Favourite training route: Cycleops Hammer

Favourite Race: GP Cangas Galicia

Best race result: 10th Carrera Caracoles Sevilla 

Favorite cycling memory: An Post Rás Finish 2016

Worst or funniest cycling moment: Vuelta a Vizcaya 2014 had to quit due to cramps almost fell of the bike couldn't even flex my legs. It was a mix of pain and laughter that I won't forget.

Cycling hero: Miguel Indurain

Most likely to be heard saying: Next year I will quit racing

 

Next up in our Rás Rider profiles is Jamie Busher. Jamie is the most experienced Rás rider on the team with two already under his belt. A bonus fact about Jamie is that his dad, John, is one of the best cycling photographers out there and the man behind many of the great racing photographs seen each week from races all around the country!

Name: Jamie Busher

Age: 42

Home town: Enniscorthy, Co Wexford

Number of years with Scott Orwell: 7ish

Bike(s): Bianchi Oltre XR4, Specialized Tarmac Elite, Specialized Transition Pro.

How often do you train per week (on average): Most weeks 10ish hours.

Favourite training route: There's an annual spin I do with a mate from Dun Laoighre to Enniscorthy taking the following path: Glen of Downs - Laragh - Rathdrum - Avoca - Aughrim - Tinahealy - Shilelagh - Bunclody - Enniscorthy. It's a classic route which takes in all the best that Wicklow and Wexford have on offer. Locally I'll be found around the Wicklow mountains whenever I get the opportunity

Favourite Race: Suir Valley 3 Day.

Best race result: I have a few Leinster medals from the Laragh classic. My best stage race performance was Suir Valley 2016 where I made all the front groups with Brian McNally/Phillipe and finished top 50, that may not sound like much but Ireland's best and international teams are present.

Favourite cycling memory: My best cycling memories normally revolve around the winter club spins where the next batch of Orwell racers are blooded. As racing season approaches we have a gallop along the N11 through the Glen of the Downs which is a bit of fun but also a good barometer as to how the winter training has gone. I have fond memories of stage races in the past such as Mayo 2 day, Charleville and the Rás where all the cycling buddy friendships are forged.

Worst or funniest cycling moment: Funniest would be Charleville 2015 where the team was based in Kilmallock. Post race we are debating eating options and Bernard English recommends a local boozer on the advice of a chap called "Froggy". Long story short we are seated in a place where Chuck Norris would be quivering with fear, we quickly do a u turn and retreat back to the hotel. Morale of the story, never listen to third hand eatery recommendations from Froggy. 

Cycling hero: My Father. Cycling man through and through. He can be seen around the racing most weekend encouraging young lads and soaking up the racing buzz.

Most likely to be heard saying: I could have won that, only for excuse # (insert any number from 1-20).

 

Finally Neal Hudson, already a Man of the Rás from 2015!

Neal at the Deenside Race 2018, Photo thanks to John Busher

Name: Neal Hudson

Age: How very dare you

Home town: Ballinteer

Number of years with Scott Orwell Wheelers: 7 or 8? (memory gets hazy at this age)

Bike(s): ALL OF THEM (I wish...)

How often do you train per week (on average): I probably train about 8-10 hours a week of structured training.

Favourite training route: So many to choose from – we’re spoilt around here! But it would have to take in Cruagh Road, Stocking Lane, the Featherbeds, over the Sally Gap and down to Laragh, back up over the Wicklow Gap and home via the lakes at Blessington.

Favourite Race: I’ve a real soft spot for the Donegal 3-Day

Best race result: Probably 5th on GC at Charleville to get the A1 upgrade. I’ve a couple of 2nd and 3rd place finishes in A2 + A3 one day races, still waiting for that elusive win

Favourite cycling memory: There's no single memory that sticks out, cycling has given me so many great ones. I’m grateful for every time I get to head out on the bike to be honest.

Worst or funniest cycling moment: Ooof. Not hard to pick this one - 40kms into Stage 1 of the 2015 Rás. I’d crashed 10kms into a 154km stage, never regained contact and was on my own into a headwind. I looked down at the Garmin to see I was doing a pitiful 30kms/hr, and almost started crying. Worst 10 minutes of my life followed, never mind cycling! All that preparation, sacrifice, build-up. All the family and friends who’d supported me. And I was potentially going to fail on the first day. I pulled myself together and finished, but that was a real rough spot. There’ll always be times on the bike where every part of you seems to want to stop, but if you can get through those, they pass, and what’s on the other side is worth it.

Cycling hero: Pat O’Brien. He was a top rider I aspired to when I was starting out with Orwell, and he made an effort to give me some early encouragement. He was there when I made my stage race debut at the Gorey in 2013, we rode many races together after that, and he was our Rás team manager in 2015 so this week is especially relevant, and I’ll be thinking of Pat a lot. Some pictures here from 2013 - Rás Report 2015

Most likely to be heard saying: Get up the front!

 

0
0
0
s2smodern
powered by social2s