Following on from the recent announcement that the 2009 Tour of Ireland would be a three-day, rather than five-day race, organisers have provided more details about this year’s event. The previously-detailed 196 kilometre first leg to Waterford will be followed by a 196 kilometre stage to Killarney before the race concludes with a 184 kilometre race to Cork city on August 23rd.
“We had to slim the race to three days in view of the economy and we have found a route that provides a real challenge for the teams,” said Event Organiser Alan Rushton. “It was important to ensure that each of the stages will be a proper challenge, given the quality of the field we have attracted to Ireland. It will also showcase Ireland as a fine holiday destination and I think in this respect too, the route will show the country off well." The main sponsor of the race is Failte Ireland, the Irish Tourist Board.
“We will be issuing more details of the route next week,” he continued. “However we felt it was important to let people know about the start and finishing locations as soon as possible. Many fans have contacted race headquarters looking for information so they can make travel and accommodation plans.”
Day one on August 21 will begin at the pre-race headquarters at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Powerscourt, Enniskerry and will cross Mount Leinster en route to Waterford. The next day the riders will line out in Clonmel and scale three categorised climbs before finishing in the centre of the tourist haven of Killarney.
Last year the race ended with several ascents of the ferociously steep St. Patrick’s Hill, and this tough, crowd-thronged climb will return again in 2009. The Sunday stage will begin in Bantry and head along the coast to Cork city, where there will be several laps of the gruelling finishing circuit.
“We are delighted to confirm that the last stage finishes on the same tough city circuit that we used last year in Cork,” said Rushton, referring back to the GC battle which ultimately went to Columbia’s Marco Pinotti. “We are completing three circuits which include the famous 25% gradient climb of St Patrick’s Hill and there are three other climbs on each lap. It will be a great spectacle to watch.”
The Columbia-HTC team of Mark Cavendish, the Astana team of Lance Armstrong and the Irish Continental-level An Post Sean Kelly Team have already been confirmed. More squads are expected to be announced shortly.