One of the top cycling events in Ireland is being held for the first time in North Monaghan later this month (June 23rd-26th). Expect to see busy roads and many visitors around the villages of Emyvale, Tydavnet, Knockatallon, Scotstown and Ballinode as over 250 riders including some well-known names compete in this year’s Irish National Cycling championships. The event is being hosted by Emyvale Cycling Club on behalf of Cycling Ireland. Town of Monaghan Co-op which has supported the club’s activities for over twenty years will be the main sponsor.
ON SUNDAY JUNE 26th around 120 riders are expected to take part in the national senior road race championships for men. The winning elite rider wears the national champion’s jersey for all road races in the following 12 months. The first of the men under-23 in this race receives a separate award for the espoir category. With the 2012 Olympics fast approaching it’s certain thecompetitors will be out to impress the selectors of Ireland’s Olympic team. County Monaghan will have two riders taking part, Conor Murphy from Clara near Emyvale who has just finished the 8 day FBD Milk Rás. Another local competitor is Monaghan town’s Ryan Sherlock, current national hill climb champion. These riders along with all the Irish elite competitors will make this one of the top sporting events in the county this year.
Last year’s winner, Matt Brammeier, a Liverpudlian with an Irish passport, wears the national champion’s jersey. As a result of his victory he signed a professional contract with HTC-Highroad. The silver medallist is better known, Nicholas Roche, son of former champion Stephen Roche. He has already won this race twice and rides as a professional with a French team, Ag2r-La Mondiale. Roche has won a total of five professional races, finishing 15th in last year’s Tour de France and 7th in the Tour of Spain, raising him to 32nd position in the world rankings. Roche’s cousin, Daniel Martin, is the 2010 bronze medallist and is a professional with the Garmin-Cervelo team, currently ranking 49th internationally. Fresh from his exploits at the recent Giro D’Italia, Letterkenny’s Philip Deignan of Team RadioShack could well lead the Ulster challenge to win the race.
Spectators are invited to come and watch all the competitions particularly the men’s and women’s races starting on the main street of Scotstown at 11am on Saturday and Sunday. Admission to all events is FREE so the organisers are hoping many people will turn up to cheer on the local riders in particular. The race distance for the elite men’s event on Sunday is around 175km. featuring seven laps of a 25k circuit. Beginning in Scotstown the cyclists head for Knockatallon Cross, past the Sliabh Beagh Hotel, onto the Clogher Road heading past Killylough to Tydavnet, then continuing along the Monaghan road to Lemacaulla Cross and Connolly’s Bridge, branching off to Ballinode and then back to Scotstown. Medal presentations will take place immediately after the finish of the race around 4pm.
The four-day event begins on Thursday evening (June 23rd) with a time trial in Emyvale village for the elite women’s and paracycling champions awards. The first competitor sets off at 7pm and riders will follow at one minute intervals on the N2 main Derry to Dublin road. Their route will take them southwards to the Coolshannagh roundabout near Town of Monaghan Co-op, then heading northwards on the N54/A3 across the border to Middletown. The riders then head for Caledon and Aughnacloy, with a finish back on the N2 at the border at Moybridge, covering a distance of 40km.
On Friday (June 24th) it’s the turn of the senior men’s time trial championships, with the first rider due off at 6pm. The 40km route is the same as that cycled by the women. The time trial is not expected to cause too much traffic disruption on the main roads but drivers are advised to proceed with caution and to allow extra time for their journeys. AA roadwatch traffic information can be obtained at www.aaireland.ie.
On Saturday morning (June 25th) the national elite women’s road race championship takes place with about fifty competitors. Scotstown GAA complex will serve as the race headquarters and parking at Urbleshanny will be available for spectators. The race starts on the main street of the village at 11am over a 12.8km circuit. Competitors will be heading for Knockatallon Cross, turning right towards the Sliabh Beagh Hotel and then right again onto Carrahor Road onto the Scotstown Road back to the village, continuing this right hand circuit for seven laps. It finishes outside the Sliabh Beagh hotel after completing a total distance of almost 100km. Current champion Olivia Dillon from Co. Mayo will have to travel from San Francisco in the USA to defend both the women’s time trial and road race titles she won last year. The Ulster challenge in the women’s events is likely to come from 2009 road race champion, Heather Wilson from Lisburn.
On Saturday afternoon (June 25th) the national veterans’ road race championships will be held. The race begins at 3pm on the main street of Scotstown, cycling over the same course as the women’s event to cover eight laps, making a total distance of around 110km and again finishing at the Sliabh Beagh venue. On Saturday evening at 7pm, all leisure cyclists are invited to take part in a charity ride covering one lap (25km) of the elite road race course. Those wishing to participate should sign on at the Scotstown GAA complex from 6pm. Voluntary donations will go towards the Co. Monaghan branch of Special Olympics Ireland.
Speaking at the launch, race organiser Patsy Brady said: “This is a big honour for Emyvale Cycling Club to be staging the national championships for the first time. Although the club hosted the B Championships three years ago, this is a much bigger event and we are grateful to Town of Monaghan Co-Op for their sponsorship. There has been massive interest in the national championships this year with Irish cyclists based in the UK, continental Europe, and the USA making enquiries. We look forward to welcoming them all to Monaghan at the end of June.”
2011 Irish National Championships Programme
Thu 23rd Elite Women’s/Paracycling Time Trial @ 7pm Emyvale
Fri 24th Senior Men’s Time Trial Championship @ 6pm Emyvale
Sat 25th Women’s Road Race Championsip @ 11am Scotstown
Sat 25th Veterans’ Road Race Championship @ 3pm Scotstown
Sun 26th Senior Men’s Road Race Championship @ 11am Scotstown
Full details about entries and routes can be found at Cycling Ireland