Cyclist Ronan McLaughlin is hoping to take advantage of his homely surroundings when the Rás comes to Donegal in May.
The Muff native is hoping to be part of the An Post Sean Kelly team for the event. McLaughlin joined the team in 2008 and is now one of five Irish riders on the eighteen man squad which also includes U-23 national champion Sam Bennett, Sean Downey, Mark Cassidy and Conor
“The Rás is one of my biggest goals for the year. The first half of the season is built around preparing for it and the Irish guys on the team are all hoping to ride it,” McLaughlin told Irishprocycling.com. “It’s very exciting to see the Rás taking in Donegal. There is not too much international racing on home roads so any of the Irish guys in the race will be up for results.”
McLaughlin’s speciality is climbing but this term from his Belgian base of Merchtem he has increased his gym work and core body work into his training programme to improve his sprint and he is hopeful that the combination will yield the results which have eluded him.
“I feel good this season,” he added. “This is the strongest I have been at this time of year ever. I put in the best winter ever and was lucky with the weather which was unusually mild and I am going to push myself from here.
“Climbing is one of my strong points and the type of climbs you get in the Rás and around Belgium are ones that I know I can do well. It’s my sprinting that lets me down. I can hardly sprint away from a dog.”
Donegal interest in this year’s Rás is made up of the 135km fourth stage, which begins in Westport and finishes in Bundoran on Wednesday, May 23.
The next stage is the 149km from Bundoran to Buncrana. Stage six then takes the peloton all the 134km to from Buncrana to Killybegs over Glengesh Pass outside of Ardara, while the penultimate stage starts from Donegal Town before taking the riders onto Cootehill, Co Cavan.
The Rás starts in Dunboyne, Co Meath, on May 20 before moving onto Kilkenny, Mayo, Donegal and Cavan before concluding on Sunday, May 28, in Skerries, Co Dublin.
Meanwhile, Philip Deignan’s season at United Healthcare began in satisfactory fashion as the Letterkenny native finished the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal in 34th place on Sunday.