Twenty one major mountain climbs, five stages over 140km each, and three first-time ever stage finish towns are the main features on the gruelling route of Ireland’s premier stage race, the 2005 FBD Insurance RÁS 8 Day International Cycle Race, which takes place from May 22- 29.
In an anti-clockwise course around the centre of the country, the top class field of over 160 riders from at least ten countries will cover 1100km with stage finishes in Emyvale, Tubbercurry, Lisdoonvarna Templemore, Abbeyleix, Rathdrum and Wicklow Town. The final stage is expected to be in its now customary beautiful setting of the Phoenix Park on Sunday, 29 May.
This will be first time in the 52 year history of this great event for the citizens of Emyvale, Templemore, or Rathdrum to experience all the thrills, excitement and drama of an international cycling  stage finish. The colourful spectacle of 160 international cyclists sprinting on the main street for a coveted stage finish victory will be eagerly awaited by the sports-loving people in all the stage-end towns.
Slievemann, Lugalla and Sally Gap in Wicklow, Corkscrew Hill in Clare, the Butts in Carlow, Bellavalley Gap in the Culcagh Mountains in Cavan and the Crag in Tipperary’s Slieveardagh Mountains, are just some of the awesome climbs the riders will encounter and where the mountain climbing specialists will put all of the top favourites under extreme pressure.
While on paper the course for this coming year’s tough encounter would seem to favour the mountain specialist, particularly the penultimate stage in Wicklow, the more all-round rider will have plenty of opportunities of building up valuable time on the less mountainous stages to Emyvale, Tubbercurry, Lisdoonvarna and Templemore. The route certainly has all the ingredients to produce a most worthy winner and to enhance the growing and fully justified international reputation of the race.