Looking at the route for the 2012 An Post Ras, team manager Bill Nickson said:’ The Ras is always a difficult race, but this year the route looks particularly hard. There are a lot of foreign teams with names we have never heard of. Names that a couple of years down the road are household names on the pro scene in Europe. I remember John Degenkolb two years ago, he has been winning regularly in Europe and at the weekend won the Tour of Picardie. So all you know what to expect is hard racing on hard roads often in bad weather. But that is what makes it a good race.’
Nickson ought to know, he won the Tour of Britain and then rode the Tour de France for the TI Raleigh team in the seventies.
The race covers 11,68 km over eight stages with 28 categorised climbs. Three of them are First Category. There will be more than 170 riders riding the 60th edition. The Ras has a reputation for being a gruelling challenge in the elite international calendar which allows amateur riders to pit themselves against domestic and international professionals.
‘We will be hoping for a stage win and we could be on for a top ten place overall. We have a strong all round team. Marcin is obviously going well after his performance at Lincoln. Philip knew he needed a good result in the Shay Elliott to book his place after dropping out of the stage races he has ridden this year and he produced it.He will e riding on home territory and looking to show well. Matt Higgins has been very impressive in the races I have been involved with this year. He is a good hard rider.’
The team is completed by the experienced and hard working Dave Clarke and James Moss who won the Tour of the North at Easter where his manager was also Nickson. Node4 will face teams from Switzerland, Denmark, Norway and Morocco. Also back to defend his title in the colour of the An Post Sean Kelly team is Lithuanian Gediminas Bagdonas.
Node4 Team: Marcin Bialoblocki, Matt Higgins, Philip Lavery, James Moss all winners this year and Dave Clarke.