Wicklow 200 to expand amid shake-up of Irish sportive sector

Posted on: June 15th, 2017

Wicklow 200 expands in shake-up of Irish sportives

Wicklow 200 sportive

The winds of change may be coming for the sportive scene in Ireland, but the Wicklow 200 is eyeing expansion and an enhanced offering (Photo: Wicklow 200 – Kevin McFeely)


Having been a feature of the Irish cycling scene long before there was any bike boom, the Wicklow 200 is seeking to expand.

Still run by the Irish Veteran Cyclists’ Association (IVCA), the event held its 2017 edition on Sunday and was sold out.

Having capped the entry to 3,200 riders, the organisers made some changes this time around. And the IVCA are looking to develop the event further in the next few years.

“We’re certainly looking to increase the numbers,” confirmed organiser Alan Heary, speaking on behalf of the IVCA.

“We could throw out figures of 4,000-5,000. But we want to make sure we grow it in a way that we continue delivering a top product and even an enhanced product.”

However,  while looking to get bigger and better, he added the event had been run “extremely well” for decades.

Changes would come only when he and the others in the IVCA believed they had the logistics in place to cater for more riders.

“It’s about doing it well and expanding at the right pace. And we want to keep the character of the event, nothing changes in that sense,” said Heary.

“The marshalling I think has always been a really huge asset to the Wicklow 200. You want to retain that atmosphere.

“But at the same time we have brought in a goodie bag for all the riders  and we can continually improve that and other aspects.”

The IVCA said there was €200 of value in the goody bag, mainly in the shape of vouchers from sponsors such as Planet X, CycleSuperStore and Aidan Hammond Bike Fitting.

“We had an MC this time around and music. And we also moved the start from Greystones to Bray Emmets GAA club,” said Heary.

“We had more parking there and it was an enclosed space where an atmosphere can build up on the day. We’ll sit down now and assess what people thought it.

“We did a big survey last year of riders, and one of the things that I am surprised about with the Wicklow 200 is how much they feel like they’re part of a family doing it.

“There are people who have done this event every year for 10 to 20 years. The really feel part of it.


Wicklow 200 sportive

Wicklow 200 sportive

Wicklow 200 sportive


While the sportive sector was about to go through rationalisation, or a “shake up” as he called it, the IVCA believes the Wicklow 200 can thrive and expand.

“There are a lot of events down; we know that for a fact. We’re hearing it every week,” Heary said of numbers riding the hundreds of sportives all over the country.

The IVCA pointed out that riders were constantly looking for, and finding, new challenges. They could also go abroad for events.

“If you  look  at the number of events that have started, there’ll be a big shake and a lot of events will be gone in the next few years,” Heary predicted.

“And I think the big ones will stay, the likes of our Wicklow 200; they’ll survive. Because they’ve be going so long they’ll get through it.

“Interestingly from our point of view; the demand has increased this year. We put a cap of 3,200 on it and it sold out.

At the same time, with riders having more choice that ever, the Wicklow 200 could not stand still and retain its leading position.

“You’re getting a lot of Irish sportive organisers who travel overseas to see what the big events abroad are doing. They see how they manage their size; what their riders are looking for.

“And you see you have to adapt, change and add value to the experience.”

Heary said the IVCA also believed the future of the event would become increasingly international.

“We’re aiming at the international market now, tourism in Ireland is huge.

“We had 15 nationalities taking part this year and yet that’s still not huge; there’s a lot of international demand still out there.”