Cycling: Rás Tailteann details released ahead of race’s return in June

First race since 2018 features 756.8km route and is much flatter than past editions

The organisers of the Rás Tailteann have released details of this year’s event, announcing a 756.8km route starting in Dublin on Wednesday, June 15th and concluding in Blackrock, Co Louth, on Sunday, June 19th.

The race was last held in 2018, with a fruitless search for a title sponsor putting paid to efforts to run it in 2019 and Covid-19 ruling it out the past two years. With most Covid restrictions now scaled back, race organiser Cairde Rás Tailteann confirmed in January that the contest would go ahead this year.

The race route announced on Tuesday is almost identical to the course first announced in March 2020. It will travel in a clockwise direction via stage finishes in Horse and Jockey, Castleisland, Lisdoonvarna, Kilbeggan and Blackrock, and deliberately follows a much flatter route than many past editions.

It will feature just eight categorised ascents, down from 34 in the 2018 event. Furthermore, there are no first category climbs, with the route including just three second category ascents and five category three hills. It is also two days shorter than when it was previously run off as a 2.2-ranked event on the UCI calendar.


When the original version of the route was announced two years ago, then race director Eugene Moriarty said that the flatter profile was a deliberate decision to “open up the race for aggressive racing”.


Ger Campbell has since taken over from the Kerry man as race director, and said that he and the organising group were “thrilled” to announce details of the event.

“After a difficult four-year absence, it is fantastic to look forward to this magnificent race returning to the highways and byways of Ireland. We look forward to welcoming our visiting teams and most importantly, our own Irish-based county riders back onto the prestigious and internationally unique platform that is the Rás.

“This year is all about getting the show back on the road and giving centre stage back to the county teams together with a balanced mix of overseas competitors.”

He said that details of the funding partners and sponsors would be announced in the coming weeks, as will more information on the visiting teams.

This year’s Rás Tailteann will begin in Dublin with a mostly flat 140.2km leg to Horse and Jockey. After a ceremonial start in the city, the race proper will get under way in Jobstown in Tallaght, travel through Blessington, Dunlavin and Athy en route to the category three climb of Glosna and a category two ascent at Castlecomer. It will then continue on through Urlingford with a flat, fast run in to the finish.

Day two begins in Horse and Jockey and covers 154.8km in a south-westward direction via Thurles, Dundrum, Tipperary Town and Charleville. It crosses the category three climb at Freemount en route to Castleisland, where a 10km finishing loop will include the category two climb of Crags Cave. The gradient of that climb plus its proximity to the finish may cause time gaps, and should indicate the riders in form.

Harder roads

The following day is the longest of the race at 172.1km. It includes the only significant variation to the route originally announced in 2020, with the previous start in Castleisland now transferring to Newcastle West. The organisers say that this decision was made to avoid a steep climb immediately after the start plus “significant road furniture” heading towards Abbeyfeale, as well as steering clear of the need to traverse Limerick city. The route will cover mostly flat roads early on and cross the Shannon at Birdhill, pass through Ennis and then out on to the harder roads of the Clare countryside in the Burren.

With the famous karst landscape of the region acting as the racing backdrop, the riders will encounter a category three climb inside the final 25km, then will crest the category two climb of the Corkscrew just 10km from the finish line in Lisdoonvarna.

The penultimate stage begins in that famous festival town and traces a mainly flat 154.1km through the Burren, on to Gort, Loughrea and Athlone before a first-ever Rás stage finish in Kilbeggan.

The final yellow jersey will then be decided on Sunday, June 14th, with a stage beginning in Kinnegad. That 135.3km leg travels through Trim and Navan, over a category three climb at Slane and then on to a similarly-ranked ascent at Collon. The peloton will race on to Blackrock, where it will take in four laps of a 10km finishing circuit and duke it out for the final stage win and overall honours.

The hosting of this year’s race will end the first-ever gap in the event’s history. The Rás Tailteann was first run in 1953 and continued uninterrupted until 2018. Dutchman Luuc Bugter was the most recent victor, while Stephen Gallagher was the last Irish overall winner back in 2008.

Cycling Ireland CEO Matt McKerrow said the federation was “delighted” that the race would be held again this year. “We are thrilled to support the international stage race and welcome top-class teams from all over the world to Ireland for five spectacular days of racing.”

Rás Tailteann 2022

Stage 1, Wednesday, June 15th: Dublin to Horse and Jockey (140.2 kilometres)

Stage 2, Thursday, June 16th: Horse and Jockey - Castleisland (154.8 kilometres)

Stage 3, Friday, June 17th: Castleisland Newcastlewest to Lisdoonvarna (172.1 kilometres)

Stage 4, Saturday, June 18th: Lisdoonvarna to Kilbeggan (154.1 kilometres)

Stage 5, Sunday, June 19th: Kinnegad to Blackrock (135.3 kilometres)

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling