The Tour of Ireland, a brand new UCI classified stage race, was launched in Dublin on Tuesday. The race will run between August 22nd-26th this year, with a peloton of approximately 126 riders. It will start from Kilkenny Castle and finish in Dublin's Merrion Square. The race is ranked as 2.1 on the European Tour, which means it's open to top teams.
It's expected that a number of Ireland's professional racers will take part, including Philip Deignan and Nicolas Roche (Credit Agricole), David McCann (Colavita), David O'Loughlin and Ciaran Power (both Navigators Insurance), current Irish road race champion, Paul Griffin (Giant Asia) and the Irish based Murphy and Gunn team.
The race is being promoted by The Events Group together with Shade Tree Sports, with Failte Ireland providing the majority of funding. "This event will provide an ideal opportunity to showcase Ireland to an international audience," said John O'Donoghue, the Irish Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism. "Cycling holiday-makers represent a significant niche market and Ireland, with its diverse country-side and spectacular scenery, has much to offer our cycling visitors."
RTE will be covering the event live every day with repeat highlights every evening presented by Jimmy McGee and Phil Liggett. Programming will be seen on the Versus Channel (formerly the Outdoor Life network) in the USA, and coverage will extend to Britain, mainland Europe, Australia, South Africa and Japan.
Stage 1, August 22nd: Kilkenny Castle - Cork via Clonmel, Carrick On Suir, Lismore and Middleton (160km)
Stage 2, August 23rd: Clonakilty - Killarney via Skibereen, Bantry, Glengarriff and Kenmare (167km)
Stage 3, August 24th: Tralee - Ennis via Ballybunion, Foynes, Limerick City Centre, Killaloe and Tuamgraney (190km)
Stage 4, August 25th: Galway - Galway, a circuit taking in Cong, Westport, Louisburgh, Leenáun before returning to Galway city (212km)
Stage 5, August 26th: Athlone to Dublin via Mullingar, Kinnegad and Enfield, finishing in Dublin over 10 laps of a circuit on Merrion Square (135km)
Official site: www.tourofireland.ie