IRISH SEASON OPENS ON SUNDAY IN KERRY (otherwise known as the ‘Kingdom’)

CYCLING-Pedals will be turned in anger on Sunday when the first competitive event of the 2008 season gets under way in Tralee, Co. Kerry.

For the last number of years, the Lacey Cup promoted by the Earl of Desmond CC has signalled the start of the competitive season.

According to race organiser Matt Lacey, ‘I have been in undated with requests about the event and the terrain!

‘Normally we would have an interest only from the Munster constituents, but on this occasion, at least three professional competitors will be on the start line in Denny Street, Tralee for the 80kms of racing at mid-day.

‘Derek Burke from the Pezula racing team, Denis Dunworth of An Post and Paul Griffin of Giant Asia are all members of professional outfits. Their presence will make for an intersting event, but they’ll have their work cut to collect the spoils,’ said Matt.

The course which will take in some of the most scenic and historical areas of Co. Kerry. Included in the 8okms of competition is Camp, then on to the first climb of the Gleann na Gealt which climbs for approximately 5kms.  That will be first test and presumably the limit group and the chasing pack  will have gone over the climb before the scratch men hit that point of the race.

Then it is on to Annascaul which is steeped in history because of Tom Crean who along with Henry Shackleton reached the South Pole.

Of course the route marshals will have the opportunity to stop in the village and vistit the local hostelry. The pace of the last group out of the starting blocks should according to the handicapper be eating into the leaders’ advantage on the road providing that the work is being shared out equally as they hit the village of Inch which has its own piece of history when it comes to the Big Screen as the setting for ‘Ryan’s Daughter.’

All going well, the leaders depending on their fitness after their initial training spins since the New Year began maybe causing doubts for the chasers who should by now have got to within a minute or two of the lead pack.

Still a liitle bit of historical interest awaits the competitors as they hit Castlemaine. And! What does ‘Castlemaine’ conjure up? Well it was the home of  Jack Duggan, known in song and verse as the ‘Wild Colonial Boy’ who became infamous in Australia.

Of course the real test comes at Sliabh Mish which gently rolls up along for 4kms.

This is where inevitably depending on numbers! Who, has the most petrol in the tank to claim the first race of the season as it is all virtually downhill to the finish.

To be fair, the handicapper has a job to do and all he wants is for an exciting race and a worthy winner of the Lacey Cup which believe it or not is over a half century old.

Defending champion Martin O’Loughlin from the Dan Morrissey/Carrick Wheelers RC has signalled his intention that he’ll defend. He is bringing the troops along with him to the ‘Kingdom’ for further glory and word reaching your scribe is the home work has been allocated and that the trophy will just be on show in the KYDS Hall before it returns to the resting place it has held for the last 12 months.

It will be interesting to see how Paul Griffin performs. Paul missed le Tour de Langkawi earler in the month because of a fall whilst training. He was looking forward to Malaysia as the race is a real indicator as far as he is concerned for the season ahead.

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