Over 100 people, including Enniscorthy Town Council chairman Sean Doyle and Wexford County Manager Eddie Breen, packed the Riverside Park Hotel, Enniscorthy on Wednesday evening to attend the launch of the 10th anniversary Tour de France Commemoration cycle to Cork on July 5th 2008.
The leisure ride organised jointly by Slaney CC, Enniscorthy Town Council and the Hope cancer care charity will see hundreds of cyclists retrace the route of the 1998 tour stage which began in the historic Duffry Gate and saw the eyes of the cycling world descend on Enniscorthy.
Councillor Sean Doyle opened the night, speaking of the historic events which took place in Enniscorthy in 1998, culminating in the worlds greatest cyclists being introduced to the tens of thousands of people on the streets of the town before departing for Cork. He spoke of the huge logistical challenges undertaken locally at that time and the great pride the town took in successfully hosting the world class event. A regular cyclist himself, he wished every success to the cycle and mentioned that he was considering taking on the 120mile challenge himself!
Slaney CC Chairman Paddy Dunne welcomed the huge crowd, and in particular representatives of the other cycling clubs in the county, Wexford Wheelers, South East Road Club and Barrow Wheelers. He was delighted to announce the National Council for the Blinds’ Blazing Saddles fundraising group will also take part in the event and that any funds raised by the group will be given exclusively to the County Wexford branch of the NCBI.
Next up was event organiser Pat Whitney (Slaney CC) who gave a detailed run down of the route and the logistical problems it throws up. With several hundred cyclists expected to ride they will be split into three groups on the road each with lead cars, support vehicles and motorcycle marshalls. Several drink stops will be set up along the way and mechanical service will be supplied for those who require it. A full medical crew will be accompanying the riders.
Pat appealed to the Enniscorthy public to come on board and support the event which celebrates a unique event in the towns history and supports a very worthy cause.
Although the event is only being launched, the club have received interest in the event from Ireland, the UK and as far away as Norway. On Wednesday night a message from renowned Channel 4 cycling commentator Phil Liggett was read expressing his support for the event and his great memories of the that sunny day in July 1998. “The ride out of Enniscorthy was made memorable by the huge crowds and the Pikemen lining the roads. It will always stay with me”, he added.
Margo Kehoe of the Hope cancer care support organisation gave a rundown of the great work being carried out by the group. The group have been very active in organising the event and will have street collectors in the various towns on the route on the day and will issue sponsorship cards to all the cyclists.
The club had arranged a display of archive newspaper articles from the local newspapers the week after the stage in July 1998 and after the launch the attendance shared their memories of the day 10 years ago when Enniscorthy was in the sporting headlines around Europe and beyond.
The ride will take place on Saturday July 5th and entry forms are available from the organisers and downloadable from www.slaneycyclingclub.com . The event is open to all but the organisers stressed that the event is NOT a fun run. Its 120miles long and riders will take anything from 7-12 hours to complete the event. If anyone is interested in riding the event, helping out on the day by driving all or part of the way or supporting the event financially they should contact Pat Whitney at firstname.lastname@example.org .