Tour of Ireland start list>>

The 2008 Tour of Ireland is being billed as the toughest edition yet, and it certainly looks set to live up to expectations.

This year?s race starts at Grand Canal Square in Dublin on Wednesday, August 27 and incorporates five stages on its 900km winding route to the city of Cork. Thanks to a 2.1 ranking on the UCI calendar, the race will attract some of the world?s top teams, from Europe, Australia, USA and South Africa.

British star David Millar of the Garmin-Chipotle squad is set to ride the Irish tour (as well as the Tour of Britain) as part of his build up for the World Time Trial Championships in September. His team-mate, Dan Martin winner of this year’s Route de Sud, is also pencilled in to ride, along with Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt.

Martin, the 21-year old nephew of Stephen Roche, will have the opportunity to wear the Irish national champion’s jersey in his home tour. “I just can?t wait to get back to racing on Irish roads again. I know that a really hard course has been announced but the team is really motivated to do well,” said Martin.

“There was a real fight to get into the team for this one but obviously being Irish champion helped me get in. The guys are excited to be coming to Ireland to race. We should be one of the strongest teams,” Martin explains.

Columbia are also expected to send a strong team, with Mark Cavendish named on the American team’s provisional seven-man lineup. The Manxman who won four stages at this year’s Tour de France, will be supported by Frantisek Rabon and Marco Pinotti.

The Irish An Post/Sean Kelly team has British riders Daniel Lloyd and Dan Fleeman posted to ride, along with FDB Ras winner Stephen Gallagher, Mark Cassidy and Paidi O’Brien.

This year?s route will cover some of Ireland?s most beautiful countryside, its key towns and cities as well as iconic mountain passes. With top teams Columbia, Garmin and Rabobank due to ride, the race looks set to be just as exciting as expected.

The race will also benefit this year from daily coverage on ITV4 with commentary from Tour de France commentators, Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett.

Teams competing:

Team Columbia

Team Garmin-Chipotle

Tinkoff Credit Systems

Rabobank

CSF Group-Navigare

Karpin Galicia

SouthAustralia.com/AIS

An Post-Sean Kelly Team

Team Type 1

Joker-Bianchi

TopSport Vlaanderen

Pezula Racing

Irish National Team

Rapha Condor Recycling

MTN Energade Cycling Team

Pinarello-CandiTV

TOUR OF IRELAND: STAGES

One Wednesday, August 27: Dublin-Waterford

Two Thursday, August 28: Thurles-Loughrea

Three Friday, August 29: Ballinrobe-Galway

Four Saturday, August 30: Limerick-Dingle

Five Sunday, August 31: Killarney-Cork

IRISH FERRIES OFFER

Irish Ferries are offering a great deal for anyone travelling over from Britain to watch the Tour of Ireland – £99 gets a car and driver over and passengers go free (one way trip).

Link: http://www.irishferries.com/fares/gbr_irl/tour_of_ireland.shtml

RELATED LINKS

Tour of Ireland start list