The world’s longest junior (U18) stage event will see more than 80 cyclists compete over 532 kilometres of road.
The Junior Tour represents the biggest opportunity young Irish cyclists will get to compete against some of the best junior cyclists from the United Kingdom, United States and across Ireland. For many it will dictate whether they decide to pursue cycling with the aim of going professional.
Previous winners of the prestigious international bike race include professional road cyclist Nicholas Roche and Sam Bennett, who now rides as a professional with German team Netapp Endura. The defending champion is Eddie Dunbar from Banteer in County Cork who will have the rare opportunity to line out again this week in a bid to become the first competitor ever to retain the title.
There are four American teams taking part this year, including four-time event winner Hot Tubes. Also participating will be Team Novo Nordisk, Team Williams Racing Academy, SKLZ Swamis and Edinburgh RC. There are three teams from Cycling Leinster, four teams from Cycling Munster and one team from Cycling Ulster, along with club teams from Castlebar CC, Iverk Produce Carrick, Donegal Gateway, Cunga Delphi Adventure and Lucan CRC.
The International Junior Tour commences tomorrow (Tuesday) evening with a 6.1 kilometre Individual Time Trial from Ennis to Drumquin and continues with Road Stages around the Clare region taking in areas like the Burren, Black Head, Corkscrew Hill, Castle Hill and Gallows Hill, concluding on Sunday 20th with an 80km circuit race around the Ennis area.
This year's Junior Tour event sponsors include Clare County Council, Shannon Airport, Treacys West County Conference & Leisure Hotel, I.V.C.A (Irish Veterans Cycling Association)
Stage 1 (Tuesday, 15 July): Time Trial, 6.2km Ennis – Drumquin
Stage 2 (Wednesday, 16 July): 116km – Ennis – Ennistimon – Lahinch – Cliffs of Moher Category 2 – Fanore – Black Head – Ballyvaughan – The Burren Category 3 – Kinaboy – Corrofin – Ennis
Stage 3 (Thursday, 17 July): 123km – Ennis – Crusheen – Gort – Kinvara – Carron Category 3– Ballyvaughan – Corkscrew Hill Category 1 – Lisdoonvarna – Doolin – Castle Hill Category 1 – Cliffs of Moher Category 3 – Liscannor – Lahinch – Ennistymon
Stage 4 (Friday, 18 July): 118km – Mountshannon – Scarriff – Category 2 – Caher – Killaneana – Maghera Category 2 – Feakle – Bodyke – Tuamgraney – Ogonnelloe – Kilnabarnan Category 2 – Tuamgraney – Scarriff – Mountshannon – Whitegate
Stage 5 (Saturday, 19 July): 101km – Ennis - Barefield – Crusheen – Killaneana – Kilcarron - O’Callaghans Mills – Broadford – Sallybank Category 2 – Truagh – Meelick – Windy Gap Category 2 – Sixmilebridge – Cratloe – Gallows Hill Category 1
Stage 6 (Sunday, 20 July): 70km Circuit race. 7 laps of 10km circuit – Ennis – Ballyea – Kildysart Road – Clonroadbeg - Ennis.