By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
The MDonnelly Junior Tour riders will face six days of intensive competition in one of the ancient kingdoms of Ireland whose rulers, the O'Connors were displaced by the Anglo-Norman De Burghs in the 13th century. Not that they'll be overawed by that information, but the event, which runs between July 11-16, is based in Co. Mayo were tourism is a big factor, and indeed the cycling promoters in the region have been instrumental in making their contribution.
The 'JT' as it is known, has an excellent sponsor in MDonnelly. The modus operandi is entirely out of Castlebar, which makes life that little bit easier for the organisation and the competitors alike.
The route for the 29th edition of an event which in the past has brought past winners to the fore on the world cycling stage is testing. There is an interesting mix of terrain and next Thursday, the competitors will visit Achill Island, which is Ireland's largest island, for a complete stage. The island has an area of 148 square kilometres. This will be the first time that an entire race has been run here and the stage distance will be 72 miles.
Stage 1 - July 11: Castlebar/Time Trial, 2.8 miles (19:00 start time)
Stage 2 - July 12: Westport-Westport, 69 miles (12:00)
Stage 3 - July 13: Achill Island, 72 miles (12;00)
Stage 4 - July 14: Ballina-Ballina, 67 miles (12:00)
Stage 5 - July 15: Thurlough-Windy Gap, 66.5 miles
Stage 6 - July 16: Castlebar-Castlebar, 59 miles