Tour de France legend Bernard Hinault is to ride in an organised cycling event in Ireland for the first time in May when he takes part in the Tour de Conamara. The event will form part of a four-leg international sportive series with a Celtic theme – the other three are next Saturday’s Tro Bro Leon in Hinault’s native Brittany, May’s Tour of Pembrokeshire in Wales, and July’s Graeme Obree Ayrshire Sportive in Scotland.
The Tour de Conamara, which is being held on Sunday 27 May, is being organised by former international cyclist turned TG4 cycling commentator Pádraic Quinn, and according to a press release will be the first mass participation cycling event to take place in the Connemara area – although there does appear to have been a previous edition, albeit on a smaller scale, last year.
Based in Clifden, County Galway, the event has route options of 80km and 140km and will be preceded by a family cycle ride the previous day, Saturday 26 May. Full details, including how to enter, are available on the event website.
“The Tour de Conamara event has already attracted registrations from France, UK and the USA, providing a significant economic boost for Clifden and the wider Connemara region”, explained Mr Quinn, who besides the Tour de Conamara itself is also organising the wider Celtic Series, although other than the Irish one, not the actual events themselves.
“The idea is to provide cyclists of all abilities with a different cycling sportive experience for 2012 and the first of its kind in Galway against the spectacular backdrop of Connemara,” he continued.
“The Tour de Conamara will be one of four events in four Celtic nations and the organisers were looking for a route that reflected unique cycling routes in the host country.
“The routes in the 140km and 80km events, which are chosen to accommodate and test all levels of cyclists, will avoid busy roads and operate on a rolling road closure so riders can enjoy the scenery in a more secure setting.
“On Saturday 26th May, a Family Cycle will take place in Clifden providing everyone with an opportunity to hop on their bike over the weekend”, added Mr. Quinn.
Mr Quinn went on: ‘Working with the events from the other Celtic regions made us realise how attractive Ireland has become as a cycling destination.
“The Bretons are planning to travel here in big numbers and the most famous cycling Breton of all, Bernard Hinault will attract a large French following due to his iconic status in the area.
“The Mayor of the region, a very high political office in France, is also travelling to the west of Ireland to take part in the cycle.”
The Tour de Conamara has the support of national tourist board Fáilte Ireland and Forum Connemara Ltd, and is sponsored by Aer Arann, Galway Water, PowerBar, Velotec, Foinse, and Le Comptoir Irlandais.
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.