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Consultation to take place ahead of Ireland's first closed road mass participation ride...

Organisers of the Sky Ride Etape Hibernia, billed as Ireland’s first closed road mass participation bike ride, are to hold two public meetings later this month to raise awareness of the event among residents of the area it is being held in.

The meetings, hosted by organisers IMG, will take place at the Old Ground Hotel, Ennis, from 3pm to 6pm on Monday April 26, and at The Falls Hotel, Ennistymon, from 11am to 4pm on Tuesday April 27.

IMG expects that some 2,000 cyclists from across Ireland and the UK will take part in the event, being held on 22 August, which is open to cyclists of all abilities from ages 18-80. The proposed route starts and finishes in Ennis, and will travel therough towns and villages in County Clare including Ruan, Corofin, Kilnaboy, Ballyvaughan, Fanore, Liscannor, Lahinch, Spanish Point, Connolly, Kilmaley and Inch.

Jo Dytch of IMG said: “We are working closely with Shannon Development, Failte Ireland, Clare County Council, Clare Sports Partnership and the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau, to ensure we communicate effectively with all residents throughout the event planning process. We are also liaising with the HSE and An Garda Síochána [the Republic of Ireland’s police force] to ensure the event is run in the safest possible way,” suggesting that organisers are keen to establish a dialogue with local residents at an early stage to avoid problems similar to those that plagued sister race, the Etape Caledonia last year.

Ms Dytch continued: “This mass participation cycling event will bring significant financial gain to the Clare economy annually and will see some of the most scenic parts of the County and its coastline exposed to the worlds cycling enthusiasts and media. We are, collectively, committed to working with local people to maximise the economic return of the Etape. Furthermore, we regard the involvement in this event of local people, community groups and regional agencies as key to its overall success”.

Pat Daly, Tourism & Marketing Division Manager, Shannon Development added; “Shannon Development, as the Tourism Authority for the Shannon Region, has been driving the development of sports tourism which is worth an estimated €60 million to the region annually. We were delighted to have helped secure the Sky Ride Etape Hibernia, in association with the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau. This major event will boost Co. Clare’s reputation as a cycling destination and complements our campaign to promote the Region’s growing reputation as a leading sports and events destination.”

In an initiative designed to increase participation in sport and raise awareness of the event, IMG have also announced that pupils in 4th, 5th and 6th year classes at County Clare’s 127 primary schools have been invited to take part in a competition to design a logo for the Etape Hibernia “that reflects the true spirit of participation in sport in the context of the upcoming cycling event.”

The winner’s design will be sported by participants on the ay, and the judging panel iwill be drawn from representatives of IMG, Clare County Council, Shannon Development, Clare Sports Partnership, Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau and Failte Ireland.

Anyone wishing to take part in the event, whether as a participant or volunteer, or who wishes to register a local event being held on the same weekend, is asked to contact IMG by emailing IMG at info [at] etapehibernia.com or calling +44 (0)20 8233 5900.

Meanwhile, full details of the event can be found on its website

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.