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Bike enthusiasts gear up for August

Jo Dytch, IMG and Karen Brosnahan, manager of the Shanon Conference and Sports Bureau, silhouetted against the West Clare coastline as they examine a racing bike at the launch of  The Sky Ride Etape Hibernia, which will take place in Clare in August.  Photograph by John Kelly

AN 84-mile cycle, to be held in Clare on Sunday, August 22, is expected attract up to 2,000 entrants. The event, which is open to club and leisure cyclists, will incorporate a cycle, which will start and finish in Ennis.
The Sky Ride Etape Hibernia will be a closed road spin, taking in Mid, North and West Clare, although the full route has yet to be confirmed.
It is planned to run the event for at least five years and organisers hope that up to 5,000 cyclists will take part in the 2014 race. 
On Tuesday, sports management company IMG, in partnership with Sky, Fáilte Ireland, Shannon Development, the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau and Clare County Council, announced details of the country’s first closed road cycle in the Armada Hotel, Spanish Point.
As well as Sky Ride Etape Hibernia, IMG have extensive experience organising mass participation events including the Etape Caledonia, Tour de Suisse, Melbourne marathon, the London triathlon, Triathlon de Alpe d’Huez and the UK Challenge.
“Sky Ride Etape Hibernia is Ireland’s first closed road cycle event and is open to the general public. It affords cyclists the unique opportunity to cycle safely on closed roads, whilst rising to the physical challenge at the same time,” Jo Dytch of IMG explained at the launch.
“We expect to draw enthusiasts, the health conscious, challenge-seekers, charity fund-raisers and lapsed cyclists. For the inaugural Etape Hibernia, we hope to attract as many as 2000 entrants and plan to grow this number considerably by 2014,” she added.
“As a national tourism authority, we are glad to be ‘in the saddle’ for the Sky Ride Etape Hibernia,” Keith McCormack of Fáilte Ireland commented.
“This event allows us to harness the growing popularity of cycling to the natural charms and allure of Clare and the Mid-West. As well as bringing visitors and revenue to the area, the event will provide an excellent opportunity to showcase the Shannon Region as both a cycling destination, in particular, and a tourism ‘must see’ in general,” he predicted.
Replying to a question regarding how long roads will be closed for during the cycle, Mayor of Clare Tony Mulcahy said that a few hours of closed roads would make no difference as many of the county’s roads were closed for several days due to the icy weather at Christmas. 
Experienced cyclists should complete the circuit in three hours and forty-five minutes, while it will take novice cyclists more than six hours to make it back to Ennis.


Cycle to peddle €1m for Clare economy says King

THE Sky Ride Etape Hibernia cycle could be worth up to €1m to the Clare economy alone this year and it is expected that figure could rise each year up to 2014. 
Shannon Development assistant chief Executive John King told The Clare Champion at the launch this week, that up to 5,000 visitors should generate significant revenue on the weekend of August 22.
“This particular event, in its first year, is upwards of €1m worth of spend,” he said, adding that he expects approximately 5,000 people to visit the county to either participate in or view the cycle.
“We’re hoping to rise from 2,000 direct participants up to 5,000 at the end of the fifth year,” he added.
A five-year plan is being put in place initially.
“Five years sounds like a short time but it’s really a long time for events. Our partners are all committed to that. It will be hard work, keeping an event going for five years and making it better each year is a real tough task. But we’re willing to take that on and seeing Clare’s status as a cycling resort rising and rising,” John King stated.
He also pointed out that sports events in Limerick and Clare are worth tens of millions of euro annually.
“I think if you look at the region, you’re talking about €60m in sports and events. As part of our overall tourism development tactics and plans, we’ve been tracking sports and events for the region over the couple of years,” he explained.
John King noted that the Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2010 guide’s inclusion of Clare in its top 10 list of Super Cycling Routes in the World was an endorsement of the county’s cycling routes. 
“This endorsement is a testament to the amount of work that has gone into the development of the tourism cycling product in Clare in recent times. We look forward to working with IMG and our partners to ensure the success of this event in terms of delivering additional visitors and revenue,” he stated. 
Mayor of Clare Councillor Tony Mulcahy said the economic and tourist benefits associated with the event for County Clare and the wider region were significant.
“I have no doubt that the people of Clare will support the event by joining Clare County Council in welcoming thousands of cyclists to the county, which will allow us to showcase all we have to offer. I especially welcome IMG’s commitment to working with local people to maximise the economic return of the event for all local people,” stated Mayor Mulcahy.
A number of people, including John King, took part in an arranged cycle of a 10-mile stretch of the proposed event route on Tuesday.
Details of The Sky Ride Etape Hibernia are available from www.etapehibernia.com or info@etapehibernia.com.

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