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An Post becomes new Rás sponsor

Posted 27 September 2010

Photo credit: Sportsfile

An Post has extended its support for the development and promotion of Irish cycling by becoming the new title sponsor of the Rás.

The event is to change its name to the ‘An Post Rás’ from 2011 with the sponsorship set to continue for at least three years.

The announcement also marks the end of one of Ireland’s most enduring sports sponsorships as An Post replace FBD Insurance who have sponsored the event since 1984.

The announcement sees An Post broaden its support to all levels of cycling having already established itself as the driving force in encouraging thousands of people to participate in cycling throughout the country.

The number of people participating in the five leisure cycles which make up the An Post Cycle Series doubled to 10,000 this year making it one the most successful sports initiatives ever undertaken in Ireland.

An Post began its association with Irish cycling in 2007 when in sponsored the Tour of Ireland while also becoming title sponsor of the Sean Kelly Cycling Team which supports elite Irish riders at international level.

Its sponsorship of the Rás was announced at the GPO with Chief Executive Donal Connell recognising the race’s part in the history of Irish cycling and its place in the heart of Irish communities.

“Our support of cycling in Ireland is second to none, extending from grass roots participation in events such as the Cycle Series to helping the development of our best young elite riders through our partnership with the Sean Kelly team.

“Our support for cycling now includes the Rás, a competition that has been part of Irish cycling heritage for so long, and like An Post, it is an institution based in the heart of Irish communities,” he said.

He also recognised the ‘trojan’ work that Rás organiser Dermot Dignam and his team of volunteers have done over a long number of years to nurture and develop the race which he described as a unique Irish sporting event.

Dermot Dignam  welcomed the announcement and looked forward to developing the race with An Post’s support.

“I am sure that today will prove to be a most significant day for the development of not just the Rás but Irish cycling.  I am sure that the race will go from strength to strength with An Post on board,” he said.

He praised the role played by FBD Insurance in establishing the race’s international reputation and also underlined the support of the Irish Sports Council, Cycling Ireland, An Garda Siochana and the race’s many volunteers in ensuring its ongoing success and survival.

“The success of the Rás is also down to the dedication and commitment of our own riders and county riders. I am not sure that it would survive it was just pro teams or national teams only.

“It is the commitment of the county rider, the guys that have to go to work the next day who make the race a success,” he said, adding that the organisers did not believe that there should be any changes to the format of the race which includes pro teams and national and county teams.

The importance of the race to Irish riders was highlighted by An Post Sean Kelly team member Paidi O’Brien who attended the announcement along with Stephen O’Sullivan ( CC) and Neil Delahaye of the Irish National Team.

“The Rás is a very special event. There isn’t a rider out there in Ireland who would not want to take part in this race. I was gutted to miss the 2010 Rás through injury, nothing beats it for atmosphere,” O’Brien said.

“I have taken part in the Rás six times and the support you get riding through towns and villages across the country is unbelievable. It’s an experience that certainly keeps me motivated when I’m back in team base in Belgium,” he added.

The 2011 An Post Ras takes place from May 22nd to 29th with the route details due to be announced in the New Year.

An Post has also revealed that it is assessing the positive economic impact that each of the five events in the Cycle Series have had at a local level and that it hopes to publish its finding within the coming weeks.

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