Cyclists in a spin for Sean Kelly tour

Mon, Aug 27, 2012, 01:00

UP TO 6,500 cyclists of wildly varying ability took to the roads of Co Waterford over the weekend to join one of the country’s most decorated sportsmen “on tour”.

This was the sixth year of the Sean Kelly Tour and once again a number of routes were laid on for the amateur pedallers by a team of organisers under the watchful eye of the former world number one and native of Co Waterford.

Coming just after the image of professional cycling took yet another battering with the disgraced Lance Armstrong being stripped of his Tour de France titles, this year’s tour proved there is a strong appetite for the sport as a participation activity.

Organised by the Waterford Sports Partnership and Waterford County Council, and part of the An Post Cycle Series, the tour had Dungarvan as its starting point. The cyclists underwent tests of differing severities, starting with Saturday’s 12km “spin” aimed at families.

Most of the serious work took place yesterday with three “races” – the 50km Kelly Cruise, 100km Kelly Heritage Route and the 160km Kelly Comeragh Challenge.

This last was described in advance as “for the very experienced, the very fit and, maybe even, the foolhardy”, but all routes shared some of the country’s finest scenery from the coastline of west Waterford to the “category one” climbs of the Comeraghs.

Afterwards it was back to Dungarvan where volunteers put together and served an impressive feast of tea and sandwiches for the weary but satisfied masses.

According to Don Tuohy of the organising committee, the cycle – aimed at encouraging participation and fun rather than competition – is now the biggest of its kind in the country. “It started off with 800 taking part the first year and it’s gone up every year since,” he said. “This is the biggest one to date, so we’re very happy.”