CLARE Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has welcomed confirmation that the county will host one of the five stages in this year’s Rás Táilteann as a major opportunity to showcase Clare’s attractions to an international audience.

“The five day event from Wednesday, May 17 to Sunday, May 21 will include a stage finish in Barefield and a stage start in Ennis which will provide a timely boost for the local hospitality trade which is guaranteed more than 500 bed nights,” Deputy Carey explained.

“The Rás is one of Ireland’s most iconic sporting events and the Clare countryside lends itself to some challenging tests for professional cyclists as well as providing a major boost for the tourism industry.

“The second stage from Birr to Ennis is over a relatively tough 154.5 kilometres as the peloton travels along Lough Derg taking in a category 3 climb in Portroe before crossing the Shannon into Killaloe. 

“The final 50 kilometres could have a big influence on the overall result with three back-to-back category 3 climbs and the category 2 Maghera Mast climb. A relatively flat final 25 kilometres will lead into the finish at Barefield”. 

The third stage departs from Ennis on May 19 for a testing 149.3 kilometre ride to Castlebar.