As time continues to tick down towards the 19 May start of the An Post Rás, the race organisers have announced three more additions to the event, with teams from Azerbaijan and the US plus an international Irish squad confirmed today.
The announcement further raises the quality of this year’s line-up, with many strong squads queuing to take part.
Race director Tony Campbell and his team had previously confirmed fourteen overseas teams for the 2.2 world-ranked race.
Today’s news sees the addition of the Synergy Baku, the Polygon Sweet Nice and the Astellas Oncology squads to the start list making the race even more competitive.
The Synergy Baku team comes from Azerbaijan but has an Irish flavour to it, with Connor McConvey and former Rás winner David McCann as riders, as well as David McQuaid as its technical director.
McConvey will be part of the team for the An Post Rás, and will hope to improve on his previous showings in the race. He was fourth in 2010 and seventh last year, and this season showed strong form by netting second on a stage and fifth overall in the Tour of Thailand.
Also in the line-up is the Namibian Dan Craven, who won the opening stage and led the race for three days in 2010, plus the German sprinter Christoph Schweizer, the climber/GC rider David Clarke and the Russian all-rounder Kirill Pozdnyakov. However, the latter crashed hard last Saturday and is not certain for the An Post Rás.
If he doesn't take part, McCann could come back for one last participation in the race, or his place could be taken by the Ukrainian Oleksandr Surutkovych.
The team has made his debut this season as a Continental squad, and has made an impact right away; it is currently a superb second in the UCI Asia Tour rankings. It will ride the Tour of Azerbaijan, Flèche du Sud and the Lincoln GP as part of its build-up to the race.
“We are coming with a full team of GC contenders,” said McQuaid, laying out the team’s ambitions. “Any of them could have yellow in Skerries. They are good enough and majority of the team has experience in the Rás.”
While the Polygon Sweet Nice team also has overseas sponsors and is based abroad, this year’s squad is registered in Ireland as a Continental squad and will likely feature five riders from this country.
Irish hillclimb champion and former best county rider Ryan Sherlock will be joined by former Irish junior road race champion Charles Prendergast, Mark Downling, Stephen Halpin and Daniel Clifford.
“The team is currently racing in the five day Tour de Azerbaijan as preparation,” Sherlock said this week. “Already this season some of the team have raced in the Tour de Taiwan and Tour of the Philippines.”
He confirmed that he will be the protected general classification rider in the 2.2-ranked event. “All riders will be focused on stage results with Daniel Clifford as our main sprinter,” he added.
The American Astellas Oncology squad is the third to be announced today and will be led by two strong riders, the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic winner Jake Rytlewski and Coulton Hartrich, who was fourth overall last year in the Nature Valley Grand Prix.
Irish national hill climb championship runner-up Anthony Walsh is also on the team, as are Ryan Aitcheson, a past fourth-place finisher in the Canadian road race championships, and Matt Green, who was fourth in the Wevigem road race.
“The team goal for the race is a top 10 overall for either Coulton Hartrich or Jake Rytlewski and to make an impact on stages with aggressive racing,” said the manager Andrew Frey.