Kerry Group Rás Mumhan starts today
With just two former winners on the start list, shorter stages than previous years and a record number of junior riders, this year’s Kerry Group Rás Mumhan promises to be one of the most open and exciting in recent memory. .
Conor Hennebry (Team Dan Morrissey/Pactimo) took the win in 2018 while Mark Dowling (All Human – Velo Revolution Racing Team) won the 2014 edition and they enter the race as two very strong teams.
The latter in particular always does well at Easter and with teammates Darnell Moore, Lindsay Watson and Vladislav Evseev, they have the firepower to challenge for stage and overall honours.
Hennebry is no longer at the same level as a few years ago, but cannot be written off to earn a second Rás Mumhan, not least because he has experienced riders Stephen Gillman and Adam Stenson on his side.
There is an Irish junior team made up of promising young riders Liam O’Brien and Patrick O’Loughlin, although not much can be expected of them at such an early stage in their respective careers.
Cathal Moynihan (Tralee Manor West Bicycle Club), Paul Kennedy (A1 Cycling Club) and Dutchman Robbert Jan-Mol (Moynalty CC) are all previous stage winners and are expected to push again, while Luke Smith (Moynalty CC) is another dark horse.
The action begins this afternoon in Tralee with a 90 kilometer stage featuring just two categorized climbs well known to anyone familiar with the traditional season-opening Lacey Cup.
Historically, this has been a tough race for any team to control, and it will likely be the case again this time around.
Tomorrow’s and Sunday’s stages are both over 110 kilometers and will definitely split the race into pieces.
Riders will need to be alert on both days and especially tomorrow as the race heads over the exposed Ballaghisheen Pass and follows the main road from Waterville to Sneem.
On Sunday there are two classified climbs over 111 kilometers as the race begins and ends in Knocknagree, while Monday’s final stage is just 90 kilometers long but packed with rolling terrain over 10 laps of a circuit of 9 kilometers.
In total, the race is just over 400 kilometers with 4,000 meters of elevation gain. The weather, as always, will play a role in shaping the overall outcome and with rain and wind expected the winner will likely be someone with experience who knows how to handle such conditions.