Rás Tailteann, the Irish UCI stage race that has been a favourite stomping ground of a whole host of top New Zealand riders, has sadly come to an end. Since its inception in 1953, and more significantly its introduction as a UCI event in the 90s, lack of sponsorship has meant that last year’s race was the final edition.
In the ever-challenging world of event management, Rás Tailteann – or An Post Ras – has been a solid fixture on the calendar for decades. For New Zealand the race has long held a strong affinity with the likes of Shane Archbold, Alex Frame, Aaron Gate, Regan Gough, Patrick Bevin, Rico Rogers and Myron Simpson among those to have made a firm impression on the race in the last decade alone.
The New Zealand National Team has – in recent times – enjoyed a presence in selected mainland European events, but their presence at Rás Tailteann has been a constant. Perhaps it has been the comparability the race enjoys with the Tour of Southland that has made the Rás so popular among New Zealand riders. It’s a race that has become renowned for its tough courses and even tougher weather conditions; and New Zealanders have thrived there.
Sadly though, Race Director Eimear Dignam and her team have had to announce that after looking for a new sponsor for the race for almost two years; none has been found and this year there will be no Rás Tailteann. The organising team have looked to Irish and International sponsors for the race but to no avail. Their hopes are still to have the race return in 2020; and in the meantime it is possible that a domestic 4-day race could be run in its place.
2017 was the final edition of the race that enjoyed the backing of An Post, with 2018’s race able to go ahead courtesy of a reserve fund set aside. But the 300,000 Euro price tag (approx. $492,000 NZD) to host the event not being able to be met has meant that Dignam has been forced to announce an end to a race that has been part of her whole life as stickybottle reported.
“I am extremely disappointed. I have been involved in the race my whole life,” Dignam said.
“But I am satisfied that I explored every opportunity to us to secure a sponsorship.
“We never envisaged that it would come to an end like this, but hopefully it won’t be an end.
“The 2019 international event will be put on hold with the hopes of coming back stronger in 2020.”