This year’s Irish National Road Race Championships look set to take place in Dublin with the event being hosted by Orwell Wheelers. Cycling Ireland had originally been seeking a club in Munster to host the championships, but with no club stepping forward, Orwell Wheelers from Dundrum will instead host the races.
Orwell Race Director and Event Organiser Stephen O’Shea is confident that the club will host a spectacular event, saying “I raced in the past in the Phoenix Park and loved the atmosphere associated with this unique location. I am honoured by my club, Orwell Wheelers to represent them as their Race Organiser.
Taking up the task of putting together spectacular Championships this year so late will be challenging! However I am comforted knowing that the club’s many members are supportive of the event and I thank them in advance. I wish to thank Ciaran McKenna, President of Cycling Ireland for his commitment over the last few difficult months and in the coming weeks ahead. The OPW park officials have been most helpful and are satisfied with the progress to date. So all going well see you all in the Park in June.”
Both the Time Trial and Road Race Championships will take place from the 23rd to the 26th of June this year. Dunboyne in Co. Meath has been suggested as a venue for the time trials, with the Phoenix Park being one possibility for the road races (subject to licences).
The Phoenix Park has in the past hosted many of Ireland’s top races including the Rás, the An Tóstal Tour of Ireland, the Grand Prix of Ireland not to mention the Tour de France.
Orwell Wheelers are one of the best-known and biggest clubs in the country and their members and former members have enjoyed quite a lot of success at the Nationals down through the years.
President of Orwell Denis Gleeson is very proud that the club will be hosting the prestigious event, saying “It is a great honour for our club to be chosen to host the 2016 National Road Championships, particularly since it will be based in our heartland of Dublin city and the Phoenix Park.
Our club, while only founded in 1948, boasts of having one of the first English speaking winners of the Tour de France. We have produced many national champions, a number of whom are still active members, and we are proud to be one of the largest and most active cycling clubs in the country.
Come June, we hope to see many of our racing friends from around the country and those travelling from abroad. We want this to be a special event. Safe journey.”
In 1965, club stalwart Noel O’Neill won the CRE/NICF Amateur Men’s Race and twelve years later Stephen Roche won the Junior Road Race.
Former member Nicolas Roche took the win in the U23 Men’s race in 2004 and the Men’s Senior Road Race in 2009 and another former member of the club, Lydia Boylan, won the Elite Women’s title in Omagh last year.
If Orwell Wheelers can manage to host the Championships in the Phoenix Park, it could be a major coup. It may help to open up the Phoenix Park as an option for hosting races on an ongoing basis again and also, it may be a big draw for crowds as it’s just a short trip from Dublin City Centre.
It could really help to showcase the sport to a wider audience if the Championships could be hosted in a large urban setting.