The 2018 Junior Cycle Tour of Ireland gets underway in Ennis today.
The event is being hosted in Clare for the 5th consecutive year and will take in more than 530 kilometres over the course of the next 6 days.
The opening time trial stage will be held on the Kildysart road towards Drumquinn later to get the event underway from 6.30pm this evening.
Tomorrow sees a new route for the second stage which will take riders along the Shannon Estuary and around the Loop Head Peninsula before finishing on the seafront in Kilkee.
A full list of the weeks action can be found below
Stage 2 brings a new stage with a 94km trek down the Shannon Estuary and onto the exposed Loop Head where the riders will traverse the Kilkee Cliffs before descending to the finish in Kilkee. Alice Sherratt describes the stage as “testing” as the roads vary in quality and width throughout the stage which means the fresh riders will be put to the test right from the first stage.
Stage 3 is a familiar stage for the race at just over 100km from Ennis to the West Coast before climbing the Cliffs of Moher and returning back to Ennis. This stage has quite often ended in a bunch sprint on the wide long straight of the Ennis By-Pass.
Stage 4 has changed from the 2017 where the race will now depart Ennis and finish in Ballyvaughan. At 127km, this is the longest stage of the race which takes the race to Gort into Kinvara, Ballyvaughan and up Corkscrew Hill. The riders will then continue via Kilfenora before moving onto the exposed West Coast through Fanore and finish in Ballyvaughan. The stage can be regarded as quite decisive, particularly with the distance but can suit the strongman on the approach to the finish around Black Head.
Stage 5 to Gallows Hill has changed on previous editions. At 124km in length, the riders will have to earn to keep their powder dry as as the majority of climbs come in the second half of the stage. The race now takes in a larger loop through Killaloe before coming back to Broadford and continuing on the same approach to the finish on Gallows Hill via the climbs of Windy Gap and Sallybank.
Stage 6 remains unchanged as the riders wind up the 2018 edition with a 77.5km stage around the Ennis Circuit.