Junior Tour of Ireland shake-up will suit different type of rider

Posted on: June 6th, 2019

Junior Tour of Ireland cycling: There are some significant changes this time around that should lead to open and aggressive racing (Photo: Stephen McMahon – Sportsfile)

Junior Tour of Ireland director Alice Sherratt has announced a shake-up to the race format that should suit those who go to Co Clare to be aggressive.

The TT stage 1 has been scrapped meaning the teams will no longer ride to maintain gains made against the clock.

And with the addition of time bonuses at each of the finishes, the sprinters will look for as many bunch gallops as possible.

However, the absence of any testing and the fact bonuses are available on the line is a format that can really favour the brave over six stages from July 9th to 14th.

These are welcome developments and one that should lead to more open racing, though the race has always been exciting.

Sponsored by Eurocycles-Eurobaby again this year, the racing will once again unfold on the testing and often exposed roads of Co Clare.

US champion Gage Hect of Hot Tubes celebrates winning stage 6 back in 2016 (Photo: Stephen McMahon – Sportsfile)

The opening TT stage has been replaced with a 48km road race; from Barefield towards Gort and Tubber before finishing back at Barefield.

That opening stage on Tuesday, July 9th, is an interesting one. It obviously means the TT is gone but the short nature of the road stage that replaces it should lead to explosive racing.

And while most rides and teams fear the longer stages, especially this with hills, a short road stage can often lead to unexpected drama and gaps opening.

Stage 2 sees a return to West Clare with a 94km trek down the Shannon Estuary and onto the exposed Loop Head. The riders will then traverse the Kilkee Cliffs before descending to the finish in Kilkee.

The following day, the riders will fight out the third stage on a new 90km route. The race will go through East Clare into Scarriff, Caher and Maghera before a repeated of the stage 1 Barefield finish.

At 110km, stage 4 is one for the road men and takes the race via the climbs of Carron, Corkscrew Hill and Castle Hill. The route then goes along the coast road through Fanore to finish in Ballyvaughan, where the racing also starts.

Stage 5 takes the race back to the Gallows Hill finish one again. At 124km in length, this stage takes in a large loop through Killaloe before coming back to Broadford.

The racing then continues to take the same approach to the finish on Gallows Hill, via the climbs of Windy Gap and Sallybank.

After that the tired bodies that populate the field have the final stage 6 circuit race around Ennis; a fast and furious 77.5km.