Derek ready for big Rás
With only a few days to go to the An Post eight-day international cycle race, Gorey man Derek Webb is putting together final preparations to the County Waterford team which will be participating.
This is Derek's fifth time being involved in the Rás. In 2010 he was the driving force behind the first county Wexford team to participate in over 50 years, and also hosted a stage finish in Gorey the same year. Since then he has managed Waterford, Barrow Wheelers and also worked with the Moroccan international team.
The race will start in Dunboyne on May 17 and the eight stages will take the 190-strong field around the country towards Carlow, Tipperary, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and back to Skerries via Roscommon and Cavan.
'I am thrilled to be back again at the Rás, I really love it, for me its my Tour De France,' Derek said.
This year's route is a lot flatter than normal, so the speed is expected to be high. 'The route is interesting this year,' he noted. 'There's not as many hills as other years, however, a lot of the route we spend on coastal roads, which are undulating by nature and will sap the strength out of the riders.
'The real thing we have to watch out for will be wind direction, so we will be watching this very closely, as being positioned wrong in the bunch at the wrong time will make things very difficult for our riders.
'We have in the team some A1 riders so we will be pushing for something in the county prizes this year, maybe even a jersey,' Derek added. However, he is well aware of the calibre of riders they are up against.
'For sure the professional teams will bring their best riders, as the Rás is known worldwide in cycling circles. I mean, five years ago a German rider called John Dekenholb won the stage here into Gorey. Since then he has won five stages in the Tour of Spain and last month he won the Milan San Remo and arguably the hardest of them all, the Paris-Roubaix.'
The An Post Rás will see over 190 riders from some of the top professional teams from all over Europe and America take part in the race, now in its 65th edition. The Rás will cover 1,180 km. in eight days over 21 categorised climbs.
The action gets under way in Dunboyne on May 17 with stage finishes in Carlow, Tipperary, Bearna, Newport, Ballina, Ballinamore, Drogheda and Skerries. Highlights will be on TV3 the following Sunday.
Derek is a founding member of Gorey Cycling Club, with over 40 members of all abilities. Check out www.goreycc.club and http://www.anpost.ie/AnPost/IrishCyclingRas/Home/ for more details.