TOUR OF THE NORTH
Dean Downing leads a four-man Rapha-Condor team in the Tour of the North starting in Belfast on Good Friday.
The boys in black will face teams from Holland, Belgium, Germany and Norway in the five-stage event, but the home riders provide the biggest threat. Ryan Connor won the 2008 edition in the colours of Pezula and the three-time winner heads the Usher-Irish RC this time round.
SHAY ELLIOTT MEMORIAL
Rapha Condor head back to Ireland for the 52nd Shay Elliott Memorial over 140km of scenic County Wicklow roads on Sunday, April 26.
Dean Downing is joined by African champion Dan Craven, Ben Greenwood, Matt Cronshaw and Liam Holohan. Other Brits crossing the Irish Sea hoping for a share of the ?1,200 prize fund include a Sportscover team led by 2005 winner Kevin Dawson and Ashley Brown.
Former winners include Sean Kelly, Martin Earley, Ciaran Power and UCI president Pat McQuaid. Non-Irish riders have only won on four previous occasions, including Malcolm Elliott in 2007.
For more information, see www.braywheelers.com.
Paul Griffin, David O’Loughlin and Peter Williams in the Irish mist, 2008. Photo: Stephen McMahon
FBD INSURANCE RÁS
The Rás welcomes its first Austrian team to the Irish eight-day event in May with the confirmation that UCI Continental outfit Arbo KTM Junkers will take part.
Danish-registered Designa Køkken also line up in Kilcullen on May 17 for the 1,289km of racing taking a clockwise route around the Republic, ending in Skerries on May 24.
Blarney: Downing and Mark Cavendish shoot the breeze in Ireland