Luke Smith in action

Cyclist targets stage victory as Rás comes to Cavan

Local cyclist Luke Smith is targeting a stage victory in this week’s Rás.

A proud native of Lough an Leagh, Luke is one of a five strong team of riders fielded by Moynalty Cycling Club and he will have the honour of competing in his home patch when Ireland’s answer to the Tour de France comes to Cavan.

Luke notes the “experience and knowledge” amongst club members, the support of sponsors and the talent of the riders before describing the Meath based outfit as “one of the best club teams within Ireland”.

Luke proved his worth to the team in last year’s Rás when he placed sixth overall, only a matter of seconds from a podium place.

“I was definitely consistent throughout the whole race, but for this year I’d love to improve upon that. The intention is a stage win or two - I’ll see how the race progresses, but the extra bit of a motivation is that it is coming through my home town (Kingscourt) on the last day heading for Blackrock.

While he refuses to be drawn on targeting a particular stage for a win, Luke notes his endurance level helps him improve the further into stage races he gets.

“Certainly come stage three, four or five is when I tend to shine generally in a stage race - but any stage if the legs are there you just have to do something on the day. Obviously on the last day it’d be great coming through the home village if I was up the road on a breakaway,” he says adding that luck plays a big part in it too.

Luke has been eagerly anticipating the sense of occasion in his local area.

“I’ve been recce-ing the course myself and going through Ballybay onto Shercock, and from Shercock to Kingscourt and down hill into Drumconrath. Even doing it on the road you would be visualising what it might be like with crowds and banners out - I know there’s a few signs up in the town, and even the priest nearly reading it out in Mass!

“There’s a bit of camaraderie there for such a small sport, compared to GAA, but the local community seem to be getting behind a lot it, even up here in Lough an Leagh the locals might know about it at this stage. So it’s a nice little incentive to keep the training going in the weeks leading up to it. There’ll be some buzz but you can’t get too excited - you have to keep the head down and keep composed throughout the whole week - it’s probably the difficult part.”

Despite his high hopes, he doesn’t underestimate the challenge.

“It’s definitely one of the highest demanding races - it’s five days back to back to aback, nearly 100 miles a day. So five days of torture or fun - whatever way you want to term it.”