Major cycling festival expected to attract thousands

Bernie Commins

Bernie Commins

A major cycling festival will take place in Clonmel this August, as a backdrop to the annual Suir Valley 3-Day cycle event which enters its seventh year. Organised by Clonmel Cycling Club, the Suir Valley 3-Day is set to remain the focal point but in addition, an action-packed, diverse and family-orientated cycling festival will also take place, which is expected to attract thousands of visitors to the town and fill as many bed nights in local hotels and guest houses.

Event organiser Declan Byrne, unveiled the ambitious and exciting plan at this month’s meeting of Clonmel Borough Council, where new and innovative ideas that will highlight Clonmel as a top tourist destination this year, were welcomed whole-heartedly by councillors and officials.

This year’s newest festival will take place from August 3-5 and will be the first of two weekends in August which will see Clonmel transformed into party central as the Suir Valley 3-Day links up with the annual Busking Festival and the Heritage Festival. It is also operating under The Gathering 2013 umbrella and organisers have secured some extra funding through this, which ensures that this year’s Suir Valley 3-Day will be the best yet.

“The funding secured under The Gathering has allowed us to invite six international cycling teams to partake in the cycling event,” explained Mr Byrne, adding that normally just one team from the Isle of Man compete.

“This will not only increase the numbers of participants but will also attract a higher standard of participants.” And with higher profile competitors, come increased spectators, and when they do, they will not be short for activities to participate in themselves.

This year some different cycling disciplines will be brought to Clonmel as part of the festival, including a unique downhill event which will takes place under the shadow of darkness, between 10pm and 12am, from the Holy Year Cross to the Emigrant’s Rest; Savage Skills, a stunt bike team, will thrill and excite with four fiery demonstrations; three sportives will also offer cyclists of varying levels the opportunity to get on their bikes with an 8km family fun cycle, a 40km ride to Ardfinnan and back to Clonmel, and a serious 150km mountain challenge taking in the Comeraghs, Knockmealdowns and the Galtees; the Suir Valley 3-Day will have two stage finishes on O’Connell street and one of these will be from the welcome return of the criterium, one of four stages in the race; a pasta party, marquee, music, fun and games will take place on the opening night; a temporary BMX track will be constructed on Suir Island - and much more. It is also hoped that cycling world champion Martin Irvine, will also be in Clonmel for a special questions and answers event on August 5, as the festival winds down.

“The format of the Suir Valley 3-Day event stays the same, the major change being the re-introduction of the criterium again after three years. This will be the seventh event but the first time that we will have a stage finish, two stage finishes in fact, in Clonmel,” said Mr Byrne.

“We are really excited about the festival, I think visually, it will be fantastic, it will be a real festival of cycling, introducing Clonmel to different disciplines. We will have lots of activities and something for everyone,” said Mr Byrne.

Clonmel Cycling Club are holding an open meeting on Friday 15 in the Clonmel Park Hotel at 7pm for anyone who wants to learn about bike maintenance, bike position, and get an introduction to club spins.