From Rás to Rainbow……..

The Rás Tailteann is annual International 8 day cycling stage race which normally takes place towards the end of May. It is Ireland’s premier cycling race which features amateur “county” riders alongside seasoned professionals.

I was asked by the organisers to paint a scene from the race featuring the race leader. This was presented to the then main sponsors FBD Insurance.

In a stage race such as this the leader wears a yellow jersey. The overall winner in a stage race might never even win an individual stage but their cumulative time will be the lowest out of all the competitors. The race leader and eventual overall winner of that year’s race was the young emerging talent, German rider Tony Martin. Martin did not have one stage win but still topped the podium by a small margin of 17 seconds from Ireland’s super strong rider Paudie O’Brien.

Tony Martin wears the leader's yellow jersey in the 2007 Rás
Tony Martin wears the leader’s yellow jersey in the 2007 Rás

It must be nice for some of the amateur riders who never made the professional ranks to look back on their careers and feel proud knowing they raced against such big names. The latter being the guys who made it onto the world tour, which is home to the elite riders. Our very own Stephen Roche won the Rás as a 19 year old. He then went on to have an illustrious career, winning the World Road Race Championship, the Tour de France and the Giro D’Italia all in 1987. The prestigious Triple crown in cycling that only Eddie Merckx of Belgium can lay claim to.

A quick sketch to illustrate what a World Champion's cycling jersey is like
A coloured pencil sketch of World Champ’s Jersey by Rachel O’Hara

Any World cycling champion is entitled to wear the coveted “Rainbow Jersey”, from the date won till the following years ‘Worlds’. After that they are permitted to have the rainbow looped around each sleeve of their current cycling jersey for ever more.

Even in during a rain sodden  Spring, Summer (in Ireland!) Autumn or Winter the beautiful colours always shine through…..What a thrill to use so many tones from my busy palette. I don’t need to use much imagination when painting a cycling scene, jerseys shorts, helmets and bikes represent every colour under the sun. Even the cycling shoe which “came in every colour so long as its black” are now available in every shade from metallic to hi-viz, funky enough to wear clubbing? well maybe not that funky……The cleats make walking in cycling shoes a hazardous thing…The only time I reckon a guy will empathise with us women in our high heels!

Hmmm, think I'll stick to the flats for the bike
Hmmm, think I’ll stick to the flats for the bike

So to get back to my subject Tony Martin, his time trialling skills earned him the rainbow jersey 2011, 2012 and 2013 only to be beaten by Britain’s Bradley Wiggins for gold in this years race.  For me to paint this picture was a pleasure for many reasons, even without knowing what the future held for this young German athlete

Whilst that painting was completed a few years ago, I now find myself looking back and thinking wow Tony Martin is a World Champion…..yet another rider to go from “Rás to Rainbow”…..

You may be interested in a getting an image of yourself (or indeed of a loved one) in action on the bike (or in any sport!) turned into an original painting. If you would like to discuss this further with me, I can be contacted by email rachohara@gmail.com or through my Facebook page also called Drawn to Sport. My Etsy shop can be visited here. My phone number is +353 (0) 87 639 7210

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