Westmeath is to continue in its pursuit of sporting excellence with the news this week that the national cycling championships are to be held for the first time in the county this June.
Hosted by Mullingar club Lakeside Wheelers, Tour de France veterans Nicholas Roche and Dan Martin, as well as world track medallists Martyn Irvine and Caroline Ryan will be vying for the coveted national champions jersies over the weekend of June 26-29.
There will be time trials and road races for under 23s, veterans (over 40s ), women, and elite men in the schedule of races.
These commence on Thursday evening June 26, with a time trial on a 37km course along the old N6 starting and finishing in Rochfortbridge, and racing through Tyrrellspass, Miltownpass and Kinnegad.
On the Friday and Saturday the attention will then turn to the north of the county where Multyfarnham will provide the start and finish line for the womens and veterans road races over six laps of a 19km loop through Ballinafid and Crookedwood.
Then on Sunday the u23s and elite men - including current and four-time champion Matt Brammeier - will line up for 10 laps of the same challenging route, with the gun going off at 11am.
On the day there will be a farmers market, and the Mullingar Town Band will add to the festival atmosphere.
Nicholas Roche who claimed a stage win and a top 10 finish in last year’s Vuelta A Espana has indicated his intention to ride in both the time trial and the elite road race.
“Lakeside Wheelers Mullingar have a proven record in hosting top-level cycle races having staged the National Criterium Championships in 2111 and 2012. Over the four days we expect in excess of 400 racers, together with their families, friends, support teams and thousands of cycling fans to visit the Mullingar area. We plan to greet these visitors with a well-organised race programme along with a series of events and activities in a festival atmosphere as part of the annual Destination Sport Mullingar,” said race director Joe Duffy..
“This is Ireland’s most prestigious cycling event with leading professional cyclists such as Daniel Martin (Garmin Sharp ), Nicolas Roche (Saxo Tinkoff ), Philip Deignan (Sky Pro Cycling ), Sam Bennett (NetApp Endura ), Matt Brammeier (Synergy Baku ) and Martyn Irvine (United Healthcare ) all expected to compete against the cream of Ireland’s amateur cyclists including Mullingar’s own Damien Shaw, a bronze medallist in last year’s championships in Carlingford, Co Louth .
“We also expect to welcome World Track bronze medal winner, Caroline Ryan, and current national champion, Mel Spath, to the ladies event,” he added.