Archive for May, 2007

The inaugural Rás na nÓg a 2 day 3 stage national cycle event for youth riders at U12, U14 and U16 levels received a welcome boost with the announcement that Kia Motors Ireland are to sponsor the event. It is scheduled to take place in the Drogheda area on Saturday & Sunday June 2nd and 3rd.

This is an initiative by the Drogheda Wheelers club who feel that an event like this needed in the youth calendar.

” We at Drogheda Wheelers cycling club are committed to the development of our youth cyclists, and this is the type of special event that we feel our events calendar needs giving young cyclists from all parts of our country the chance to come together to compete against each other,” said Gerard Campbell who will front up the event and no better individual. He certainly has his heart in the right place. A few more like him involved with the sport would make a tremendous difference.

It is widely known that our near neighbours across the’pond’ will travel to Drogheda in early June.This being Youth Olympic year it will give further preparation to our u-16 cyclists who will represent us in Belgrade.

As part of the event there will also be a K.O.H. competition and also a team category. There will be 2 stages on Saturday June 2nd with a road race in the morning followed by a criterium in the evening. Stage 3 on Sunday June 3rd will also be a road race. Final presentations will take place in Boyne R.F.C. Drogheda on Sunday June 3rd @ approx 3.00pm.

Present at the announcement was double champion of the FBD Rás and twice Olympian, Philip Cassidy who is lending his support to Rás na nÓg .

“It’s a great pleasure to be invited to the launch of this great project. It was through a club organisation structure like this that I started cycling at the age of 15 and as a result I was introduced to a sport that gave me the opportunity to see most of the world including participating in two Olympic Games. I would never of had that opportunity but for the hard work and volunteers of cycling clubs such as Drogheda Wheeler who have been promoting events for our youth to participate in for many years now.”

Kia Motors Managing Director Mr.James Brooks added.” We are delighted to support this initiative by Drogheda Wheelers and hope that our involvement will help the club in fulfilling it’s ambition to make this event a major date in the annual cycling calendar.”

Philip Cassidy who is lending his support to Rás na nÓg .

“It’s a great pleasure to be invited to the launch of this great project. It was through a club organisation structure like this that I started cycling at the age of 15 and as a result I was introduced to a sport that gave me the opportunity to see most of the world including participating in two Olympic Games. I would never of had that opportunity but for the hard work and volunteers of cycling clubs such as Drogheda Wheeler who have been promoting events for our youth to participate in for many years now.”

Kia Motors Managing Director Mr.James Brooks added.” We are delighted to support this initiative by Drogheda Wheelers and hope that our involvement will help the club in fulfilling it’s ambition to make this event a major date in the annual cycling calendar.”

Pat McQuaid as President of the Union Cycliste Internationale is adamant that Ivan Basso will be banned from the sport for two years. ‘If he is of the impression through his national federation Italy, that owning up to his involvement in Operacion Puerto, that he will be treated leniently and get less than the mandatory two years, he is not in the real world. Plus his latest statement is bizarre to say the least,’ said McQuaid as he prepared to leave for Moscow.

A day after admitting to be involved in Operacion Puerto, Ivan Basso has given a press conference in Milano.

Most important in his speech was denying of ever having used the blood which was found in Eufemiano Fuentes’ clinic. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Basso stated: “In my career I have never used doping products or resorted to blood transfusions.”

Although being suspended now, the Italian plans a come-back. “I will serve my suspension and then return to race. I know that returning will make me feel better; I think that the group will accept me.

“I am fully aware that an attempt at doping is tantamount to doping, but I am asking to be excused for this and that should be enough,” he added.

Basso claimed that he achieved all of his victories, including the 2006 Giro d’Italia, without any doping. “All my victories were obtained in an honest manner and nobody can contest what I achieved in the 2006 Giro d’Italia no more than the other results I achieved during my career.”

Although the former Team CSC and Discovery Channel rider announced to be willing to co-operate in further investigations, he refused to say any names. “I can’t vouch for the honour of my colleagues, who wins honestly, like I have always done.”

Moreover, he claims that he all did it individually, without any involvement of other cyclists. “There is talk about how I am a repenter, or a collaborator. I want to clarify that I was not asked about the other people involved, further, I don’t know of riders or other people involved.”

Reflecting about his decision to admit his plans of doping use, he said that “it was a weak moment, but I am aware that attempting to dope is the same as doping. I will serve my sentence and return to the work I love.

“I will assume my responsibilities, confronting my family, who has stood beside me in my decision,” Basso concluded.

This coming Sunday, the attention turns to balbriggan for the Noel and Kieran Hammond Memorials’.

Irish professional cyclists are coming back to Ireland to race this August, thanks to the sponsorship of Failte Ireland.

It has been quite a while in the eyes of the general public to see a professional peloton on the highways and byways of Ireland. In August, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Failte Ireland, the buzz and excitement returns!

Adding to those sentiments was Sean Kelly, a former winner of four ‘Classics’ Tour of Ireland. “Irish cycling is well thought of on the European scene. I don’t see any problems attracting the household on the ProTour scene. The Autumn Classics will be gearing up and it will be advantageous for the top teams to come to Ireland.

“The organisers of the event, ‘Event Group’, have a great understanding of the sport, virtually on all continents. It will be an opportunity for the Irish professionals who ply their trade to showpiece themselves in the event,” Sean said.

Back in the mid-eighties and early nineties the Kellogg Series and then the ‘Classics’ were the food at the top table for Irish cycling in general.

In 1998, the first visit of the Tour de Fance wetted their appetites again, but then the lights dimmed and very nearly went out, but for the ingenuity of Darach McQuaid of the dynasty who has been working feverishly away in the background along with his partner Alan Rushton.

Together they have rekindled the fires of the pro scene in Ireland when the event takes to the roads on 22nd – 26th August 2007 and annually thereafter.

Fortunately Fáilte Ireland recognised that the coverage that the media gives to sport in this country warranted the investment and the professionalism that McQuaid and Rushton will bring to the event will probably rub off on everyone associated with the event and more so the general public.

The Tour is fully supported by the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, through the sports tourism initiative, which is run by Fáilte Ireland. The event also has the full support of the Irish Sports Council.

Naturally from the organisers and sponsors lofty positions, because of the problems assocated with the professional side of the sport, it is important that “history will make its own judgment on the committment of all parties, but the priority for the moment has to be to support the long-term future of the sport both here and abroad, so that Ireland in the future will have a professional annually date on the Union Cycliste Internationale calendar.”

The race will be composed of 112 professional riders, 300 race personnel and media plus 125 official vehicles and 28 civilian motorcyclists.

The Tour is organised by The Events Group Limited, in association with Shadetree Sports. The Events Group promoted the former Nissan Classic
(1985–1992) and the start of the Tour de France from Ireland (1998).

The 2007 course:

Stage 1, Aug 22: Kilkenny Castle – Cork, 160km Stage 2, Aug 23: Clonakilty – Killarney, 167km Stage 3, Aug 24: Tralee – Ennis, 190km Stage 4, Aug 25: Galway – Galway, 212km Stage 5, Aug 26: Athlone – Dublin, 135km