By Shane Stokes
Irish Continental team Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn Group/ M. Donnelly Sean Kelly has been confirmed for the Tour of Ireland, expanding the lineup for the event.
The team is based at the Kelly Cycling Academy in Belgium and features riders such as current Irish under 23 champion and FBD Insurance Rás runner-up Paídi O´Brien, Paul Healion and former national champion Morgan Fox.
"It's going to be exciting seeing the team competing with some of the best riders in the world on home soil," said Stephen Murphy, director of the Murphy and Gunn company on Wednesday: "This is our second year with a team like this and I never thought we would have a race of this standard in Ireland to compete in. It's like a dream come true to become involved as the only Irish pro team."
"It's a great opportunity," agreed former world number one Sean Kelly: "It's great for an Irish team with Irish sponsors and we are hoping to produce some good results. The Tour of Ireland is now one of our main targets for the year.
"Paídi O´Brien is in very good shape and rode a magnificent Rás. He will be one of our main men for the race. We will be putting together a racing and training programme that will help the team prepare fully to give us the best possible chance of a result."
Meanwhile Irish road race champion David McCann will lead another Continental-ranked squad, the Colavita / Sutter Home team, in the race. He will attempt to defend his national title on Sunday and will also try to take another Irish time trial gold on Friday, having won several in the past. McCann is the reigning Irish ten mile record holder and a previous winner of the FBD Insurance Rás.
The team is managed by former 7-Eleven pro Tom Schuler and is based in the US.
The Fáilte-Ireland sponsored Tour of Ireland runs from August 22 – 26th and is ranked 2.1 on the UCI calendar. Full route details are to be announced next week. More information on the race can be found at www.tourofireland.ie.