Pedal power this weekend
National event in Wexford
Wexford cycling enthusiasts have everything in readiness for the hosting of the Irish Senior national championships in the coming days.
The events will begin this Thursday, June 22, at 5 p.m. in the grounds of Johnstown Castle with an individual time trial to Kilmore Quay and back.
And then on Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25, Ireland's top professional and amateur cyclists will race the roads around Wexford town, Castlebridge, Crossabeg and Ferrycarrig.
The event will be officially launched with a reception in Johnstown Castle on Thursday at 8 p.m. immediately after the cycling event.
Sponsors of the event include The Talbot Colletion, Euronics , Wexford County Council, Spirit design inc, Rossbury Racing Team, Visit Wexford and Stafford Boned Storage.
Thursday's time trial route will encompass 34 kilometres, and David Maguire, Associate Race Director, described it as 'one of the nicest routes in the county, taking the riders on some of the most beautiful roads in Wexford. There are challenging bends mixed with long straights which will test all of the riders' skills'.
Local man Seamus Wall, who will be cycling the Para TT route, said: 'I have been on the TT race route over the past month and I think it's a great course, as good as any of the previous three that I have done.
'It's definitely a course that one will have to work on as it's reasonably flat so there will be no rest periods and a nice slow drag from the turn around to the finish line.'
The starting point for Saturday's action is at the rear of the county hall building, with the circuit comprising an 18.9 km. loop around the roads of Castlebridge and Crossabeg. There will be a neutralised section of four km. approximately.
The males over-60 will commence at 10 a.m. and will ride three laps (56.7 km.), with the males over-40 following suit at 11 a.m. over six laps (117 km.). The over-50 males will start at 11.05 a.m. and their race will comprise five laps (97.6 km.).
The men's elite Senior and Under-23 races will take place on Sunday at 11 a.m., taking in nine laps or 175.9 km. The elite women's race is also down for decision at the same time, over five laps (97.6 km.).
Lydia Boylan, the holder of the current national championship title, said 'it looks like a very testing circuit. It should make for a good race'.
It will be the first time for the county to stage this prestigious event since 1990, with 500 of Ireland's leading cyclists set to take part.
Nicholas Roche will be defending his title but will face stiff competition from such notable figures as Dan Martin, Sam Bennett and Eddie Dunbar.
The plans to stage the event were put in place by Wexford Cycling, a group formed by Goreyman Derek Webb eight years ago which consists of the various clubs in the county.
Sean Rowe of Wexford Wheelers first mooted the idea, and it was wholeheartedly supported by the rest of the organisation.
The neutralised four km. start for all races on Saturday and Sunday will enable the participants to make their way from the starting point at the County Hall through Redmond Square and across Wexford bridge, before a rolling start outside the showrooms of Ferrybank Motors.
There is a special significance to this as it's the family business of the late Frank O'Rourke who was one of the leading exponents of cycling in Wexford throughout his adult life.
The circuit will carry on to Castlebridge village before veering left to Crossabeg and then through the townsland of Saunderscourt. The riders will join the N11 briefly and pass the Ferrycarrig Hotel before taking a sharp left at the end of the bridge.
Then an immediate 'V' in the road will see the participants go right into a hairpin bend on Codd's Lane. The race will take a left and then return to the R781, bringing the cyclists back into Wexford town for a finish line at the old GPS buildings, 500 metres shy of Redmond Square.