The Tour of Ireland has finalised its team lineup with Rabobank, DFL-Cyclingnews and Maxbo Bianchi joining the other 13 teams in the race. The five day tour is a brand new event on the UCI calendar, and takes place between August 22nd and 26th.
Rabobank will be led by top cyclo-crosser Sven Nys, who is looking to regain some form before the start of the 'cross season. The Belgian has won everything there is to win in cyclo-cross, including the world championships in 2005. He will be joined by his young Dutch counterpart, Boy van Poppel. The 18 year-old son of sprinter Jean-Paul van Poppel won the junior cyclo-cross world championships last year.
DFL-Cyclingnews is bringing an experienced lineup led by Nico Mattan, a past winner of Gent-Wevelgem, the GP Plouay and two stages of Paris-Nice. He will be joined by up and coming Brit Daniel Lloyd, who finished second in the recent Tour of Qinghai Lake, being beaten by just one second. Newly crowned Scottish road race champion Evan Oliphant also forms part of the team.
Norwegian squad Maxbo Bianchi are a relatively new team founded in 2005. Their star is 19 year-old Edvald Boasson Hagen, winner of the Ringerike GP this June and three stages of the Tour de l'Avenir last year. He has already been signed by T-Mobile for next season. Another man to watch is Alexander Kristoff, winner of the Norwegian road championship this year after beating Thor Hushovd in a sprint.
In addition to these three teams, the Tour of Ireland will feature ProTour squads CSC, T-Mobile and Unibet, along with Team Slipstream, Recycling.co.uk, Team Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn/M Donnelly/Sean Kelly, Colavita/Sutter Home, Team LPR, Plowman Craven/Evans Cycles, Navigators, Ceramica Panaria-Navigare and South Australia.com-AIS.
Stage 1 - Wednesday 22nd August - 160km Kilkenny Castle to Cork- via Clonmel, Carrick On Suir, Lismore and Midleton.
Stage 2 - Thursday 23rd August - 167km Clonakilty to Killarney - a fantastic scenic route via Skibereen, Bantry, Glengarriff and Kenmare.
Stage 3 - Friday 24th August - 190km Tralee to Ennis via Ballybunion, Foynes, Limerick City Centre, Killaloe and Tuamgraney
Stage 4 - Saturday 25th August - 212km - Galway to Galway, a circuit taking in Cong, Westport, Luisburgh, Leenáun before returning to Galway city.
Stage 5 - Sunday 26th August - 135km - Athlone to Dublin via Kinnegad and Enfield before finishing in Dublin for 10 laps of a circuit based on Merrion Square.
Race website: www.tourofireland.ie