Rás Tailteann will not be raced this year

The Rás Tailteann, the of blue ribband of Irish cycling, will not be raced this year.

Race Director Eimear Dignam last night confirmed the decision to cancel the eight-day world-ranked event citing an inability to find a sponsor.

The event was on the UCI international calendar, earning world-ranked points for those who excel on stages and in the overall classification.

While such an international status added greatly to the prestige of the event, the extra requirements under UCI rules meant an increased budget.

The race finances were covered in recent years by An Post, but the company stepped back from its backing of the race specifically and the sport of cycling in general in 2017.

The Rás Tailteann took place last year with monies from a reserve fund, but the depletion of that made it vital that new backing was secured for 2019.

However Dignam and the organising committee tonight admitted defeat in their quest to find a sponsor and were left with no option but to cancel the race.

“We have exhausted all opportunities in relation to sponsorship for a UCI race this year,” stated race director Dignam.

“I am extremely disappointed. I have been involved in the race my whole life. But I am satisfied that I explored every opportunity for us to secure a sponsorship. We never envisaged that it would come to an end like this, but hopefully, it won’t be an end.

“The 2019 international event will be put on hold with the hopes of coming back stronger in 2020.”

The Rás Tailteann was first raced in 1953 as a two-day event.

It expanded to a nine-day event but it more recent years has been completed over eight days.

It has been won by some of the greats of Irish cycling, including Stephen Roche and four-time champion Sé O’Hanlon, as well as overseas competitors who then went on to be top professional riders such as multiple world time trial champion Tony Martin.

However Dignam remains hopeful that a shorter "non-UCI race" could go it its place this year.

“There may be an option there for a three or four-day race to be run by a separate organising committee,” she explains.

“It would be a smaller, non-UCI race. Those discussions will be held in the coming weeks.

“Our hopes are that a smaller race will happen in 2019 and then the full international race will come back stronger than ever in 2020.”

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