The roads of Kilkenny will be buzzing this week with the return of the Rás na mBan, Ireland’s leading women’s cycling race.
It’s the 16 edition of Ireland’s top international stage race for women and the sixth edition of the race being based in and around Kilkenny. Riders from all over Europe, the USA, Oceania, Africa and Asia as well as the best of Ireland’s international and locally-based racers will descend on Kilkenny for five days and six stages of racing, underway in on Wednesday, running through to Sunday.
“The move to Kilkenny six years ago has been overwhelmingly positive for Rás na mBan. The beautiful countryside and wonderful support from Kilkenny makes planning the route an absolute pleasure and to be able to offer an event for all the family is a further step development for the race as a pillar event for Cycling Ireland,” says race director Valerie Considine.
“The route and festival we have assembled for 2022 will challenge the riders and offer an opportunity to further showcase the beauty of Kilkenny City and County.
“We look forward to seeing riders of all ages get on their bikes on Sunday 11th and stay to cheer on the stars of Rás na mBan. We hope our efforts will inspire more people to get on their bikes and maybe we’ll see a few future Rás riders among the girls and boys racing on The Parade that day.
“It’s particularly gratifying for us to be able to bring top class women’s bike racing to the people in such an iconic setting as Kilkenny Castle.
Sunday 11th September, the final day of racing, will begin with the fifth stage 2.5km time trial set against the backdrop of one of Kilkenny’s most iconic landmarks.
The race will end with the popular hour-long Kilkenny City Circuit Race on the familiar 2.1km circuit starting on The Parade in front of Kilkenny Castle, a spectacular and high octane end to the five days of racing.
Féile Rás na mBan
In between those two final stages, Rás na mBan will host Féile Rás na mBan for all ages with a range of activities including leisure bike rides, fitness challenges, skills training and tests, all topped off by a series of short bike races for younger riders racing towards the same finish line to be used by the Rás na mBan stars immediately afterwards.
The focus will be on participation and fun for all as Rás na mBan continues its stated goal of providing a platform event for the best of Irish bike racers and a showcase to inspire the next generation of Irish cyclists.
Féile Rás na mBan is a joint collaboration between Sport Ireland, Kilkenny County Council and Rás na mBan with the grateful assistance of Cycling Ireland and Kilkenny Local Sports Partnership. A full timetable of activities can be viewed here.
Kilkenny’s Mia Griffin, a World and European Championship track rider, is due to take part again. Having finished second on the final stage last year, she’ll be keen to go one better in ’22.
The best locally based talent includes is vying for the highly coveted green jersey awarded to the Kilkenny County Council Best Irish Rider. The leading Irish rider will be presented on the podium after each stage and recognisable in the bunch each day by the distinctive green Kilkenny CoCo Best Irish Rider jersey.
Stage finishes in Callan, Inistioge (Woodstock), The Cut, Piltown and Kilkenny City feature in the 400km week of bike racing. See full route details here.