THE recent Tour of Ireland which was shown world wide on TV proved a success with sponsors, Failte Ireland (Tourist Board), who are to back a second edition of the race in 2008, event promoter Alan Rushton of Events Group said today.
Belgian Stijn Vandenberg of Unibet won the five-day UCI International in August. Sixteen teams of seven took part, comprising four Pro Tour teams, plus teams from Ireland, UK, Europe, Australia and the USA.
?The race has had a very good review, and we are set fair for 2008,? said Rushton, ?we?ve now to agree a date with the UCI.?
He said all the sponsors indicated they were happy with the event and some have promised increased funding for next year.
?This is good because it will allow us to develop the race, build on it over the next few years,? said Rushton, whose last major event in Ireland was the Nissan Classic 15 years ago.
He said having the tourist board as sponsor was an ideal arrangement.
?It?s a lovely brief to get to visit all the tourist parts of the country. So we will develop the race with festivals ? as we started to do this year ? where we go.
?And we will build up the size of the field. It will still be five days next year. When we know it?s humming along then we can look at growing the race in the future by one day.
?The calendar is very congested. But we think we?ll do better team wise in 2008.
This year we only began contacting teams four months before the race and many were already booked. But they have indicated they will come next time.?
Finding the correct slot for the race depends not only on other Tours, but also the wider sporting calendar. In Ireland the Gaelic football cup final is massive and so the Tour of Ireland must avoid clashing with that.
?We?re all about international television,? said Rushton. So we need to get the correct dates and the UCI understand this.?
He was particularly pleased with ITV4 which showed a half-hour report of the race each evening plus two 90-minute slots at the weekend.
?The ratings were very good and built throughout the week. One day in Ireland on ITV4, the race had the highest rating on TV at that particular time."
The race was televised in the UK, Russia, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, all over Asia and in the USA.
Of the many individual brave efforts by riders, one man in particular especially impressed Rushton.
?I thought Plowman Craven?s Kiwi Gordon McCauley (second overall in the mountains classification) did really well. He was all over the place for three days of the race. Impressive.?
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Keith Bingham joined the Cycling Weekly team in the summer of 1971, and retired in 2011. During his time, he covered numerous Tours de France, Milk Races and everything in-between. He was well known for his long-running 'Bikewatch' column, and played a pivotal role in fighting for the future of once at-threat cycling venues such as Hog Hill and Herne Hill Velodrome.
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