By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
With the Irish National Road Championship done and dusted, competition will locate this weekend to Cong in Co. Mayo for three days, whilst Enniscorthy in County Wexford is on stage on Sunday. Both locations are steeped in history with Cong nestling on the shores of Lough Corrib, and Ras Connachta, Enniscorthy developed around the 13th century when a castle was built on a rock at the head of the tideway.
The local hero and recently crowned Irish National Road Race Champion, David O'Loughlin will not be on the starting line when the Ras Connachta three-day stage race gets under way Friday evening in the village of Cong, Co. Mayo. O'Loughlin has taken a break from cycling for a few days, but as a former winner, he'll be keeping a watching brief on proceedings.
In the absence of the national champion at least the promoting club, Mayo Wheelers, have received confirmation that the team champions' from last Sunday, Cycleways.Com members, Stephen O'Sullivan, Philip Finnegan and Eugene Moriarty will be on the line when stage one sets off at six o'clock this evening.
As usual the organising committee headed by Brian O'Loughlin and company have attracted all the leading teams in the country. The event gets under way with a 50 mile road race and on Saturday it is split with a road stage and a time trial with an 80 miler on Sunday for the wrap up. The Dan Morrissey/Carrick Wheelers Road Club cyclists will be anxious to make up for the disappointment of not getting the team prize in the Nationals, last week, and also for not making the podium in the individual section.
With examinations out of the way, Planet X's Mark Quigley from Partry, Co. Mayo and a former Under-23 champion is keen to get on the winners ladder over the weekend. The three-day event will come as a bonus for Martin Munroe who has been selected to represent Ireland in the MDonnelly Junior Tour, which is scheduled for Castlebar in 10 days time.
Also, down for decision on Sunday will be the staging of the Eddie Tobin Memorial event in Enniscorthy. The organisers Slaney Cycling Club have laid on a very attractive programme which will make for good competition to honour Eddie who worked on behalf of cycling at all levels. The racing gets under way at one o'clock and the Riverside Hotel are the main sponsors.