The route for this year’s Suir Valley Three-Day International has been unveiled, with a hilltop finish on Monday’s concluding stage set to make it one of the most exciting editions of the event yet.
Three Continental teams have also committed to taking part, which is sure to make it a difficult and hard fought assignment.
Speaking at the launch of the event, Declan Byrne said he and his fellow organisers are very much looking forward to the race, which will take place over the August Bank Holiday Weekend.
“It’s going to be one of the best races we’ve put on in Clonmel and the surrounding areas in recent times,” he said.
“We’ve opted to change it up a bit from last year and added a hilltop finish on the Monday. Anyone who knows the climb itself, knows the race will be up for grabs right up until the last few metres.”
Last year’s race was won by Blarney’s Barry Twohig who lifted the yellow jersey from Ryan Sherlock, then riding for Cycleways, on the final day when he clipped off in a break. And despite starting the day in fourth overall he gained the time he needed to move up the standings while also managing to stave off the challenge of Paddy Clarke (Castlebar CC) and Iverk Produce Carrick Wheelers man Martin Mijgayski.
Sherlock was on hand to help with the launch this year and he said he’s very much looking forward to bringing the Polygon Sweet Nice team over for a good crack at the overall and stages.
“This race always comes up trumps and the organisers leave nothing to chance when it comes to running the event,” he said.
“The roads are always good, the route is always safe, the competition is right up there with what you want and this year is going to be no different. This was the first stage race I ever did after converting from mountain biking to road racing and I love it, which is why I’ve raced it so often now.”
As well as the Polygon Sweet Nice team, the race received a major boost when UK team Rapha Condor-JLT said they will travel over, as will the An Post-Chainreaction team and an Isle of Man selection.
Those teams should make the race more interesting and give it more of an international feel.
The Rapha Condor JLT team will likely see Irish internationals Aaron Buggle and Felix English contend, while up and coming British talents Mike Cuming and Richard Handley will also be in line to return to Ireland having ridden well in the Rás last month.
The An Post team will be favourites to win the race outright and will likely bring new U23 champion Jack Wilson as well as Sean Downey, Ronan McLaughlin and double Rás stage winner Sam Bennett.
Downey has been going very well this season and was fourth in the elite time trial at the national championships last Thursday. That effort was his first test of the season and took more out of him that he was expecting, meaning he did not threaten in the road race on Sunday.
However, he seems to have progressed a lot this year and could be a good bet for the overall in Clonmel, while Wilson and Bennett are also capable of a strong assault on the overall and winning any of the stages.