By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
The 48th edition of the Shay Elliott Memorial race rolls out from Bray Town Hall on Sunday, April 24. After 160 kilometres of testing competition in Co. Wicklow, 'The Garden County of Ireland', it will snake its way back to finish on the outskirts of the town at the Southern Cross. Regarded as one of the best one day events in the country, the "Elliott" attracts competition from far and wide and this edition will be no different.
Last year's winner of the Murphy & Gunn sponsored one day race, David O'Loughlin is an unfortunate non-starter because of commitments in the Dodge Tour of Georgia in the USA with his team Navigators Insurance.
For the last number of years the event had recognition from the Union Cycliste Internationale, but on this occasion the promoting club, Bray Wheelers CC have opted out of that arrangement, because of the increased costs levied on clubs who want their event on the international calendar. Having the event listed as an international fitted in with the aims of Cycling Ireland who listed this development in its manifesto for Irish cycling for the new millennium. Still, this will not detract from the organisers' ambition to stand and deliver the goods.
The entry list is impressive with Malcolm Elliott, one of the greats of cycling in England and further afield who is making a welcome return to the event. He is present with his team courtesy of the sponsors, Murphy & Gunn who will be anxious to do the business on the day. Last weekend, Eddie O'Donoghue registered a success for Murphy & Gunn CC when he won the Stamullan Grand Prix, whilst his success last Sunday was sweet, he would literally relish winning the 'Elliott.' The winning trophy has a series of names of the greats of Irish cycling, including Sean Kelly who won it twice.
Visiting competitors have not a great track record in the race, but a couple of years ago, Mark Lovatt from England and a regular to the FBD Insurance Ras, broke the deadlock when he triumphed. He is back with a formidable line-up and could be the one to pencil in for a repeat win.
Eugene Moriarty from Listowel and representing Cyclways.Com came very close two years ago only to miss out in the final yards. He is little raced this year and when he hit the stage over Easter in the Credit Union Ras Mumhan, he was very much in the shake up before committing a blunder of all blunders when he failed to cover a move with less than six miles to the finish when he was in with a shout of overall victory. He comes to Bray with an ambition to erase both the Easter affair and memories of that slip in Bray two years ago.
Racing gets under way at 10.30 with the finish anticipated between 14.30 and 15.00 hours. All facilities will be based in the Presentation College on the Putland Road, Bray.