It may not have its Union Cycliste Internationale status, but that, has not dimmed the enthusiasm amongst the competitors who’ll take part in the Shay Elliott Memorial that takes place this Sunday from the Town Hall in Bray for 163kms of racing.

Costs of putting the event on the UCI calendar just became to prohibitive, but the generous sponsorship by Murphy & Gunn of Milltown has at least kept the magic that belongs when you mention the ‘Elliott’ in cycling circles.
It has also reached another milestone, with this being the 50th edition of the race that was originally called ‘The Route de Cille Mhantain.

Stephen Murphy whose firm sposors the race, ‘it is a unique event on the Irish calendar. It attracts the creme-de-creme of visting competitors, with the title being exported abroad on many occasions,’ said Stephen.

Back to defend his title is Andy Roche from the Isle of Man, but he’ll face a daunting task in the light of the declared starters which also includes two former winners, Mark Lovatt and Kevin Dawson.

Currently rated as one of the favourites is Brian Kenneally who won the title back in 1999. He has a strong team in MyHome.ie/BDCB and that will count in his favour. Not far off favouritism will be Paul Griffin of the Giant Asia team. Lack of support from any quarter in the recent Ras Mumhan did not deter him from being runner up.

Since the event is primarily for Senior One and Two, 95% of the starters will have ‘been there and wore the tee shirt!’

Not, Isaac Speirs of the Murphy & Gunn/Newlyn outfit. He joined the senior ranks at the beginning of the year. His performance in Ras Mumhan set him apart from the majority of the field and by my reckoning has to be reckoned with.

On Sunday, not only will Bray Wheelers be celebrating the 50th edition of the race, first won by the late John Lackey who went and became a household name, but his legacy was as a race organiser. He went ahead of the possee and trail blazed a generation of other organisers. John was a visionary and was instrumental in making a path for others to gain notoriety in the sport.

It was also the first occasion that the Bray club promoted an open race.

The Bray club have listed John Lynch and Frank O’Leary as starters, but it it would a big ask if either of them were to win the trophy last won a ‘Wheeler’ in 1998, Mick O’Donnell who is the public relations officer of the club.

Back forty years ago 1967) it took the judges a hell of a long time to separate Wim Koopman from Holland and Hughie Davies of the Lorraine Cycling Club after a titanic sprint on the Lower Dargle Road.
Literally on the nose, Davies got the verdict, who on the day was one of the outsiders because of the infamous climb at Drumgoff (Glenamlure) where a monument was erected back in the seventies to commemorate Shay.

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