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Junior Tour of Ireland an example of sport tourism potential of Clare, says sponsors Shannon Airport

16 July 2014

Co. Clare and the wider region has a huge opportunity to grow its share of the lucrative sport tourism sector, Shannon Airport Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Murphy said today. 

Speaking after presenting winner of the Shannon Airport sponsored Stage 2 of the Junior Tour of Ireland Eddie Dunbar, from Banteer in Cork, with his Yellow Jersey, Murphy said that the Junior Tour of Ireland is an excellent example of the type of event that counties like Clare can attract.

Dunbar picked up the Yellow Jersey after finishing 2mins and 37 secs ahead of the peloton following his early break, just 10k into the 118km stage from Ennis to Lahinch, Ballyvaughan and Corofin before finishing back in the county town shortly after 3 p.m.

Dunbar made his mark as one of Ireland’s up and coming cyclists at the same stage in last year’s event, also held in Clare, and said following today’s stage finish that the Banner County is proving a happy hunting ground for him. 

“The second stage this year was not as long as last year and the wind was going to be the main factor but I knew the course from last year and used the wind to my advantage.  I went for it after 10km and the gap just kept going out so I’m delighted.”  

The race draws competitors from across the globe and past participants include some of the best known names in world cycling, including 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, UK cyclist and winner of 25 stages of the famous Tour Mark Cavedish and Irish pro Nicolas Roche, currently riding in the Tour de France and backer of the Nicolas Roche Performance Team in this year’s Junior Tour of Ireland, which Roche himself won in 2002. 

Speaking at the finishing line for Stage 2 the Shannon Airport Chief Commercial Officer said,  “We are delighted to support an event that brings such large numbers to Clare and generates a lot of attention for this part of the country.  Many of the cyclists from abroad arrived in through Shannon so we, too, had an important supporting role to play in the event and it shows again just what having an airport in the region can do for sport tourism. 

“In May of this year we heard at the W2 Consulting organised European Sports Tourism Summit, which Shannon Airport was the lead sponsor on, that the industry today is worth as much as €300m per annum to Ireland and can be doubled over the next five years.  We recognise at Shannon Airport the opportunity this sector presents and will continue to do whatever we can to help promote it. 

“The Junior Tour of Ireland can be held up as a really good example of what sport tourism can do.  It brings large numbers of competitors, teams and their supporters to the county and that results in a significant local investment.  That’s what sport tourism is all about and it’s a real opportunity for Ireland and, in particular, our catchment area with such great scenery and infrastructure for hosting events like this.”

This year’s event, which is the 38th year of the Tour, started last evening with a  prologue from Ennis, and runs through to Sunday. 

Over 80 riders, including some of the best junior cyclists in the world and teams from the US, UK and across Ireland plus support crews and supporters are in Clare this week for what is the world’s longest junior (U18) stage event at over 500km.

The Tour was for eight years based in the West of Ireland, and prior to that in Dublin and Waterford, but comes to Clare in 2014 for the second year running following the success of last year’s inaugural event in the Banner County. 

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