Rás Tailteann (pronounced [ˈɾˠaːsˠ ˈt̪ˠalʲtʲənˠ], "Tailteann Race"), known for sponsorship reasons as the An Post Rás or the Rás for short, was an annual 8-day international cycling stage race, held in Ireland in May. Around Ireland, the race is referred to as The Rás. By naming the race Rás Tailteann the original organisers, members of the National Cycling Association (NCA), were associating the cycle race with the Tailteann Games, a Gaelic festival in early medieval Ireland.
|Competition||UCI Europe Tour 2.2|
|Organiser||Cumann Rás Tailteann|
|Race director||Eimear Dignam|
|Editions||66 (as of 2018)|
|First winner||Colm Christle (IRL)|
|Most wins||Sé O Hanlon (IRL) (4 wins)|
|Most recent||Luuc Bugter (NED)|
The event was founded by Joe Christle in 1953 and was organised under the rules of the Republican-influenced organisation – the National Cycling Association (NCA). At that time competitive cycling in Ireland was deeply divided between three cycling organisations, the NCA, Cumann Rothaiochta na hÉireann (CRÉ) and the Northern Ireland Cycling Federation (NICF). This was due to the issue of nationalism and the division of Ireland into Northern Ireland and the Republic. The NCA wished for a United Ireland and refused to recognise Northern Ireland or to confine their jurisdiction to the Republic of Ireland. The Rás Tailteann was the biggest race that the NCA organised each year.
As a result of a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) motion, the NCA was banned from international races and all teams affiliated with the UCI were banned from competing in races organised by the NCA. Therefore, only teams that were not affiliated with the UCI or who were willing to take the chance of serving a suspension for competing in the Rás Tailteann competed in the Rás Tailteann. During this time the NCA cyclists achieved prominence in the Rás with Gene Mangan, Sé O'Hanlon and Paddy Flanagan being several legends of the race. Mangan won only one Rás but featured in the race throughout the 1960s and early-1970s winning a total of 12 stages while O'Hanlon won the race four times and won 24 stages. Flanagan won the Rás three times and had 11 stage wins.
The NCA and the CRÉ together with NICF began unification talks in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As a result, a CRÉ team which included Pat McQuaid, Kieron McQuaid Peter Morton and Peter Doyle was able to enter the race in 1974. Doyle won the race and the McQuaids won two stages each. The first Rás open to the two associations CRÉ and the NICF was in 1979 and enabled Stephen Roche to compete the event as part of the Ireland team. Roche won the event.
The race developed into a much sought after event by professional and amateur teams from many parts of the world. As part of the elite international calendar it was eligible to award qualifying points that are required for participation in Olympic Games and the UCI Road World Championships.
The first edition was held in 1953 as a two-day event but quickly developed into a week-long event. It ran every year, uninterrupted, until 2018. Following Cumann Rás Tailteann's failure to find a new principal sponsor for the race, it was announced in February 2019 that there would be no Rás that year.
The race was a UCI 2.2 event.
- 1953 to 1967: Rás Tailteann
- 1968 to 1972: You Are Better Off Saving Rás Tailteann
- 1973: Tayto Rás Tailteann
- 1974 to 1976: Discover Ireland Rás Tailteann
- 1977 to 1980: The Health Race Rás Tailteann
- 1981 to 1982: Tirolia Rás Tailteann
- 1983: Dairy Rás Tailteann
- 1984 to 2004: FBD Milk Rás
- 2005 to 2010: FBD Insurance Rás
- 2011 to 2017: An Post Rás
- 2018: Rás Tailteann
- Daly, Tom (2003). The Rás – The Story of Ireland's Unique Bike Race. The Collins Press. ISBN 1-903464-37-4.
- Daly, Tom (2012). The Rás – The Story of Ireland's Unique Bike Race – paperback edition. The Collins Press. ISBN 978-1-84889-148-7.
- Traynor, Jim. The Rás – A Day by Day Diary of Ireland's Great Bike Race. The Collins Press. ISBN 978-1-905451-71-5.
- Riordan, Christy (2009). A Special tribute to Mick Murphy: Winner of 1958 Rás Tailteann. C.R. DVD & Video production.
- http://www.independent.ie/sport/death-of-former-cycling-supremo-joe-christle-447034.html/news/art_4467.shtml "Death of former cycling supremo Joe Christle" Publisher: Irish Independent.com Accessed date: 30 May 2009
- www.cyclingnews.com http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/no-uci-ranked-ras-tailteann-to-take-place-in-2019/. Retrieved 3 June 2019. Missing or empty
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 October 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) "An Post Takes Over Title Sponsorship of Rás" Publisher: Irish Cycling.com Accessed date: 27 September 2010
- "1961 Rás Tailteann results". fbdinsurances.com. Retrieved 28 June 2009.
- "2009 FBD Insurance Rás results". irishcycling.com. Archived from the original on 27 May 2009. Retrieved 24 May 2009.
- "Lukas Postlberger finally strikesit lucky in Ras". Irish Examiner.