By Shane Stokes
Following the successful running of the Shay Elliott Memorial in Wicklow on Sunday, race promoters Bray Wheelers and event sponsors Murphy and Gunn are to have talks in the near future about the possibility of returning the race to the international calendar as a world-ranked event.
Named after Ireland's first holder of the Tour de France yellow jersey, the Elliott memorial is regarded as the most prestigious one-day contest outside of the national championships, and was run as a 1.5-ranked event earlier this decade. However changes to UCI rules meant that prize money and other costs spiralled, causing the race to revert to national status.
While the FBD Insurance Rás is currently Ireland's only road race to award world-ranking points, next year's 50th anniversary of the Elliott event, which originally started out as the Route de Chill Mhantain, may see it run off as a 1.2 ranked competition. This would increase the numbers travelling from overseas and add further prestige to what is already a highly regarded race. It would also be a substantial boost for Irish cycling.
"We will sit down with Bray Wheelers soon and discuss a possible return to the international calendar," confirmed Murphy and Gunn's Mark Colbert yesterday. "We have big ideas for next year, including the possible running of a criterium or a youth race the day before the main event, making it a festival weekend."
Sunday's race was doubly successful for the sponsors, with the Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn Group team taking an excellent first and third. Andrew Roche broke clear approximately 15 kilometres from the end, finishing clear of former Tour of Spain points classification winner Malcolm Elliott and his own team-mate Connor Murphy.
It represented a very encouraging performance for the squad, who this year made the step up to UCI Continental level.