Rory Townsend of Team Ireland raises his arms in celebration after winning the stage into Kilbeggan in last year's Ras. Pic : Lorraine O'Sullivan

Offaly town to host stage finish and start in Rás Táilteann 2023

Birr will host both a stage finish and stage start during Rás Táilteann 2023, it has been confirmed.

Organisers have announced that the opening stage of this year's race, the most significant cycling race in the country, will finish in Birr on May 17, having come through the Slieve Blooms, with the start of the following's day's second stage, on May 18, also taking place in the South Offaly town.

This year, the race will assemble and depart from Navan, Co. Meath earlier on May 17. Both Rás Táilteann and the local Navan Road Club celebrate 70 years of existence in 2023. As such, the race organisers have decided to commence the event in Navan in recognition of the role that local riders have played in the supporting the race since its inception in 1953.

After a ceremonial start in the town, the race will travel mostly on flat roads taking in two cat 3 climbs within the first 90km. The final part of the stage gets much tougher as the race crests the cat 1 Wolftrap mountain climb 20km from the finish. A fast run-in to Birr via Kinnitty concludes the stage. Not a day when the race can be won but a day that could put riders out of contention from the off.

Stage 2 on May 18 features a tough day in the saddle as the race departs from Birr and makes its way along the rolling roads of North Tipperary, skirting Lough Derg and taking in the cat 3 climb in Portroe before crossing the Shannon into Killaloe. The final 50km of the stage could be very telling with 3 back-to-back cat 3 climbs and the cat 2 Maghera Mast climb all featuring. A relatively flat final 25km into the finish at Barefield awaits on the outskirts of Ennis town.

The third stage, on May 19, goes from Ennis to Castlebar, with the fourth stage, on May 20, from Charlestown to Monaghan. The final day, May 21, begins with a ceremonial start in the centre of Monaghan town, before finishing up in the beautiful Co. Louth seaside town of Blackrock.