For the second year running Mayo Centra will enter a team in the An Post 8 day Rás and this year the riders are all members from the Western Lakes Cycling Club.
The five-man squad consists of a mixture of experienced cyclists and late vocations to the sport, which epitomises the focus on rider development at the Ballinrobe based club.
The racing group at the club is going from strength to strength with a record number of racers registered in 2013, making for fierce competition on training spins as well as hard fought club league races.
The team will be led again this year by Padraig Marrey; one of the most accomplished cyclist and coach in the country. This will be Padraig’s 11th Rás, and the 20th anniversary since his first in 1993. He has coached this year’s squad with a focus on the Rás since September 2012 when winter training began.
Two-time national champion Mark Quigley is making a return to top level cycling this year. Mark previously represented Ireland on the international circuit and is making a strong comeback this year a goal of completing his first Rás.
Donal Harrington is back for his second year on the Mayo Centra team. Donal is relatively new to the sport but has quickly become a well known character on the domestic scene; indeed he became the “face of the Rás” after a bumpy start in last year’s race, but pure grit and determination saw him through the event against all odds.
Michael Gilvarry rides his first Rás this year making the leap to elite racing after taking up cycling four years ago. Michael started competitive racing last year and has worked hard to ensure that he can now hold his own with the strong men in Irish cycling.
John James Flaherty is a highly experienced racer and is back stronger than ever this year for his second consecutive Rás. John James has represented the Western Lakes CC racing team through his twelve years of racing and his experience will be invaluable to this year’s team.
Western Lakes CC is delighted to have Centra and the Higgins Keegan group as the main sponsors the team who will again don the blue and yellow colours of the Centra Supermarket chain. The Club would like to thank shop proprietors’ Higgins and Keegan who have stores located in Lebann (Galway) Enniscrone (Sligo), and their newly-opened store in Kilkelly on the Knock Road, Co. Mayo.
The Carlton Hotel Group is sponsoring accommodation for the team on the Dublin and Kerry stages and will no doubt be cheering the team on as the peloton pass their Ballinasloe hotel.
Insignia Plus Westport are sponsoring the leisure clothing and Marrey Bikes Ballinrobe will again provide Sports Nutrition and equipment to the team.
Associated sponsors include Inch’s bar Ballinrobe, Tom Bourke’s bar Westport and Visit Connemara.
This year’s team is managed by Clifden man John O’Halloran. John was a fierce competitor in his day and with three Rás’s under his belt as a rider, he brings a wealth of experience and valuable support to the team.
The team will also be supported by masseurs Barry Rafferty and Priscilla Fair, and the team mechanic is Felix Jackson.
Heading up logistics is Tuam man Pat Heneghan and like all good squads the support team is vital for a successful completion of the Ras.
The 2013 An Post Rás will begin in Dunboyne on Sunday 19th May, the fourth consecutive year it has started there. It will then move counter-clockwise around the country, and includes stage finishes in Longford, Nenagh, Listowel, Killarney, Glengarriff, Mitchelstown, Carlow and Naas, before concluding on Sunday 26th May with the customary finale in Skerries, North County Dublin.
The race will feature 33 categorised climbs, of which four are gruelling category one mountains and twelve are category two ascents.
Pictured above are the main aponsors of the Mayo Centra Ras team Paul Keegan and Gary Higgins from Higgins Keegan Centra Kilkelly at the launch of the Mayo Centra Ras Team which is made up of riders of the Western Lakes Cycling Club. Pictured is the support Crew with JJ Flaherty, Michael Gilvary, Mark Quigley and Padraig Marrey.(Donal Harrington was unavoidably absent). Picture Conor McKeown