The An Post Ras 2017 arrived in Ardee on Saturday afternoon – and despite wet conditions, the local crowd came out to watch Dutchman Daan Meijers of Delta Cycling Rotterdam win the penultimate stage of this year’s event.
Meijers pipped team mate Jan Willem Vansch as the duo came in out in front of the chasing pack at the stage finish end line on Market Street in the town. A breakaway group of five riders came through but the Dutch duo did well to get over the line ahead of An Post Chain Reaction team’s Regan Gough and Ireland’s Darragh O’Mahony while Slovenia’s Tilen Finskt finished fifth.
The finish in Ardee saw Britain’s James Gullen retain the yellow jersey going into the final day’s racing. Today’s stage saw Gullen retain his 1 minute and 5 seconds lead over Ike Groen. It’s Gullen’s to lose now. Killarney’s Richard Maes was the First County Rider home on Saturday afternoon, finising in ninth place overall for the stage.
The first riders over the line came in at just past 2.30pm this afternoon, pretty much as scheduled at the end of the mammoth 167km ride from Donegal to Ardee town. The main field was totally diminished today as the wet conditions and perhaps fatique too, began to set in with many of the competitors. The average speed today was 48km an hour, with the riders hitting 60km an hour as the came into the town.
Tomorrow, the cyclists will return to Ardee as they set off for the final stage – Stage 8 – en route to Skerries.
Ardee postmaster Michael Farrelly and Ardee Municipal District cathaoirleach Dolores Minogue were among those present to award the various riders with their awards and jerseys after the stage ended, while Eamon Martin also took time out to make a special presentation to the McGuill family. Noel McGuill was tragically killed in the Ras in 1972. Michael Farrelly accepted the honour on the families behalf.
There’s little doubt the rain kept many people away with the Ras crowd in Ardee nowhere near projections of 10,000 spectators taking to the streets. But those who were there played their part in creating a loud and memorable atmospehere for the riders coming over the line.
Armed with green flags, plastic clappers and with many people taking cover under An Post Ras branded ponchos – they certainly weren’t going to let the weather get in the way of a good time, and a rare chance for Ardee to host an internationally renowned sporting event.
Of the Louth Cuchulainn Cycling team, Liam Dolan was again the best placed rider as the cyclists came into home soil for the first time in the six day slog.
We’ll have much more reaction and news from the An Post Ras in Ardee tomorrow plus we’ll also have photos from the day available to view to ThisIsArdee.ie later this evening so keep an eye out.