One of the biggest sport tourism events in Ireland will bring 4,000 visitors to Clare this weekend.
The annual ŠKODA Ring of Clare Cycle this Saturday will see over 2,500 cyclists take part in the sportive cycle event that will also welcome international cyclists from 14 different countries. A further influx of supporters and families of participants will attend the Bike Fleadh afterparty throughout Ennis on Saturday evening after the cycle.
The ŠKODA Ring of Clare Cycle is part of the international ŠKODA Celtic Cycling Series, starting and finishing in Ennis. Cyclists have the option of 160km and 120km routes that brings the event along the Wild Atlantic Way, Loop Head Peninsula and back to Ennis by the newly developed Shannon Estuary Way.
Damian Hayes of ŠKODA Al Hayes Ennis explained how the Clare cycle is the fastest growing event in the ŠKODA Celtic Cycle Series. He outlined ‘this is the fourth year of the event and it has sold out for the past three years. It started in 2016 with 800 cyclists and has trebled in a short space of time to 2,500 participants annually. The feedback from participants have highlighted the spectacular route around Clare from the coast, Loop Head Peninsula to the estuary journey back to the finish. The reputation of Ennis as a great host town provides another reason for so many visitors to take part’. He added ‘the impact of the event spreads beyond Ennis with hundreds of cyclists staying across the county delivering a real economic boast for Clare.’
He added ‘The addition of the Bike Fleadh is another great innovation and a real tourism boast for the county with more and more cyclists building a weekend break around the event.’ He added ‘there are already some great cycling events hosted in Clare. The ŠKODA Ring of Clare Cycle focuses on the southern half of the county featuring the Wild Atlantic Way, Loop Head Peninsula and back along by the newly promoted Shannon Estuary Way.
Sport tourism research conducted by event partners Repucon Consulting has revealed six of ten event participants will return to the area for a non cycling visit within a few years, creating a lasting impact for the county.
Event director Ian Falconer highlighted how the timing of the event was great for Clare to build on the momentum of recent Irish Open golf event. He outlined ‘It was been a great few weeks for sport tourism in the county and all events regardless of scale help to keep the county in the minds of visitors thinking of places to visit’
He added ‘the event last year was one of the highest rated national Cycling Ireland sportives voted by the participants. This year we have added a range of new elements to develop the overall cycling experience for participants plus the route is selected to showcase the best of what Clare has to offer.’
He explained ‘The event goes through a varied series of backdrops from taking in the Estuary and parts of Loop Head, bringing cyclist along segments of the Wild Atlantic Way they may not be familiar with. It’s a spectacular route and the development of the post cycle Bike Fleadh with the help of Ennis Chamber and Ennis Vintners is already a big attraction for cyclists. The event is designed to have a major sport tourism impact on the area and we plan for it to become one of the bigger events in the national cycling sportive calendar.’
The weekend in Clare starts with a Pasta Party at Al Hayes ŠKODA dealership on the evening before the cycle from 4.30pm to 8.30pm. The cycle starts at 9.00am on Saturday morning from Clarecastle GAA club with cyclists heading along the Miltown Malbay road from Ennis returning home via the Kildysert road.