By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
The clock is counting down to the start of the MDonnelly Junior Tour next Tuesday in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ireland
Race organiser Alice Sherratt has been making final preparations before the 27th edition of the JT hits the roads of Connacht.
Sherratt explained, "it's all systems go as we are finalising arrangements for teams coming from abroad. The race has a significant part to play in the development not only of on the domestic scene but far beyond our shores. After all, there aren't many events that can lay claim to having notched up World Championship gold medal winners."
"There have been highs and lows in the last couple of days. I was sure that Ian Stannard would be back to defend his title and into the bargain create a unique piece of history for himself by being the first person to win back-to-back Junior Tours and what's more Martin Donnelly ones."
"Ian has been decided to race at another location. He has been a fine ambassador for the JT and I wish him well in the future. He won the 37th Tour du Pays de Vaud Junior International stage race a couple of weeks ago - it's regarded as a biggie, but life goes on and we'll get on with the business of getting out of the starting blocks next Tuesday in Castlebar,"
At the weekend, Martin Munroe gave notice that he'll be a serious contender when he finished high up in Ras Connachta, with some serious hitters taking part in the event.
Reliable sources believe young Munroe was looking forward to locking horns with Stannard, but many are sure that irrespective of the opposition, he'll be a serious contender for overall honours.