Orwell Wheelers will be sending a strong team to this year's An Post Rás, with four riders making their debut in the premier event on the Irish cycling calendar.
This marks a welcome return to the Rás for Orwell, after a gap of two years. The team representing the club in this years race will be Brian Ahern, David Coughlan, Patrick O'Brien, Daniel Whiting and Aidan Collins.
For the first time ever, the club has had more riders ready to ride the Rás than places on the team, with selection based on performance in Rás Mumhan and the Tour of Ulster.
Odhran Connors, who narrowly missed out on selection for the Orwell team, will also be featuring in this year's Rás, having secured a spot as a guest rider with the LK Bikes Donegal team. This will be Connors' fourth consecutive Rás.
Orwell's challenge will be lead by Brian Ahern who will be participating in his seventh Rás, between the ones he's ridden and his times as a manager. Ahern's experience should prove valuable for the team, with Collins, Coughlan, Whiting and O'Brien all making their Rás debuts, having moved up the ranks to A2 level over the past year.
Supporting the Orwell challenge is a strong backroom team, with Ger McNamara acting as team manager and Tom Blennerhassett as mechanic. Blennerhassett's own bid for a Rás spot was stymied earlier this year by injury and his participation in this year's race will no doubt whet his appetite to complete future editions as a rider. After some sterling work supporting the Orwell team at last year's Rás na mBan, Rachel Glendon will once again act as team masseuse.
The club is hosting a barbecue on Tuesday, May 15 to coincide with the last night of the Women’s Criterium League that will act as a fundraiser for the Rás team.
The barbecue will take place a the Blue Light pub in Sandyford from 8pm. Entry is €10 for adults and €5 for children, with an “all you can eat” policy for hungry cyclists.
Entertainment on the night will include a raffle and the Rás team doing a TT on a monkey bike around a 300 metre course in the car park. Team members have promised to do this in full time trial kit, including skin suits and helmets.