The cream of Irish cycling is set to pedal into Nenagh this weekend for the fourth Visit Nenagh Cycling Classic. The 160km-long event is the only one of its kind in Ireland and this year has attracted two teams from Holland and a women’s team from Wales.
The country’s top riders and teams relish the chance to take part as it gives them an indication of their form in the run-up to the An Post Ras in May.
“It is the biggest, longest and toughest one-day race in Ireland,” said Rene van Dam, race director at the launch.
“It is one of the most prestigious races in the country and attracts more riders, more support vehicles than any other race. However, it costs a lot of money and would not exist without the financial help and other support of Tipperary County Council,” he said.
Mr van Dam said that with Gas Networks Ireland now coming on board as title sponsors, it was hoped to secure the event into the future.
He pointed out that in other counties, race organisers are having difficulties closing roads for races, but he congratulated Tipperary County Council on its assistance in that regard.
The weekend starts with a time trial on Saturday, April 18, with 10 teams so far registered to take part in the race from Five Alley to Birdhill and back.
He pointed out that the teams will reach speeds of 50km/h and urged people to come and watch it, especially at Yellow Bridge and Birdhill.
“The main races on Sunday showcase North Tipperary and that is important to me and the committee,” he said.
This year the ladies’ race will be part of the National League and, he said, the team from Wales liked the idea of countryside racing as this was now something that was not always possible in Britain.
The senior A1 / A2 races have been the starting point in the careers of a number of cyclists, with Ryan Mullan, a winner of the junior event, taking silver at the recent World Championship Time Trials, and Eddie Dunbar now riding professionally in Britain.
Rene also said that the riders loved the uniqueness of a town centre finish as many races finish on country roads.
Mr van Dan thanked all those who volunteer as stewards during the race as well as all the many supporters who help with sponsorship and in other ways.
Visit Nenagh chair Virginia O’Dowd said that a very important element of the weekend was the family cycle on Sunday, saying it had become a firm fixture on the calendar for families.
The free event organised by North Tipperary Sports Partnership starts at 11.30am on Pearse Street, and participants are People are asked to gather in Cecil Walk car park at 11am to register. The event will take 45 minutes and cover 7kms.
“I want to say a special thanks to the members of North Tipperary Wheelers who volunteer to help out at the family cycle,” she said. Ms O’Dowd also thanked all those who help, including the Civil Defence, the Gardai and Lodge Security.
The race will take in Nenagh, Portroe, Ballina, Newport, Templederry, Dolla, Shallee and Toomevara, with some of the best viewing points at Portroe hill, Birdhill and Templederry. The races finish on Pearse Street, Nenagh, between 1pm and 3.30pm, depending on the category. For full details of the route and timings visit www.nenagh.ie
See this week’s Tipperary Star