By Nigel Wynn
Saxo Bank and Cervelo Test Team have both confirmed their line-ups for this year's Tour of Ireland, which runs from August 21-23.
Cervelo has picked a strong British and Irish-focused line-up, with Philip Deignan, Roger Hammond, Jeremy Hunt, Daniel Fleeman, Daniel Lloyd joined by Martin Reimer and Davide Appollonio in the distinctive white and black kit. Hunt won a stage of the Tour of Denmark last week, and Hammond finished the race third overall.
Saxo Bank has confirmed that Australian Stuart O'Grady will head up their team for Ireland. He will be joined by young British rider Jonathan Bellis and backed up by a strong team that comprises Jakob Fugslang, Karsten Kroon, Kurt Asle Arvesen, Alexandr Kolobnev and Matti Breschel.
With 2009 Tour de France six-stage winner Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) and seven-times Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong (Astana) already confirmed for the start line, the race boasts a very strong field. Cavendish won three stages last year and took the green jersey - he will undoubtedly be looking to add to his current tally of 20 pro wins in 2009.
This year's Tour of Ireland has been shortened compared to last year's edition due to the tough economic climate, and now comprises of just three stages rather than five. A total of 112 riders from 16 teams will take to the start line at the Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt, on Friday August 21.
The race gives the British and Irish teams a rare chance to mix it with the ProTour squads. Last year's race was won by Italian Marco Pinotti riding for
Columbia with Britain's Russell Downing (CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta) in second.
Tour of Ireland 2009: Stages
Stage 1: Friday, August 21 - The Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt to Waterford - 196km
Stage 2: Saturday, August 22 - Clonmel to Killarney- 196km
Stage 3: Sunday, August 23 - Bantry to Cork - 185km
Tour of Ireland 2009: Teams
An Post-Sean Kelly
Australian National Team
Cervelo Test Team
Irish National Team
Team Type 1
Lance Armstrong and Mark Cavendish confirmed for Tour of Ireland
2008 Tour of Ireland: Pinotti wins
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