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2008 Tour of Ireland - Preview
By Staff
Date: 8/26/2008
2008 Tour of Ireland - Preview

Tour of Ireland - Preview
The tour of the Emerald Isle: the stages, teams, riders, bib numbers and favourites.

The second Tour of Ireland since its reincarnation sets off on from Dublin on Wednesday, and is looking to build on a good reputation set in last year's edition. Set over 900km and with a 2.1 UCI ranking, this five day event will be fiercely competitive. With more sponsors coming onboard, along with growing International TV coverage, this race is arguably growing quicker than its British counterpart. For television coverage in your area check here.

The Route
Ten years ago, Dublin hosted the start of the Tour de France. In 2008, it is the departure point for the Tour of Ireland. Stage one takes us from the capital city of the Republic of Ireland south towards Waterford. The biggest difficulty is in the shape of Mount Leinster, a first category climb that comes after 119km. Seeing as the stage is 192km in length, this peak will be too far from the finish to be decisive. The third category Saddle Hill and second category Inistioge follow, though the final 28km are all downhill into the finish.

Stage two is easier and shorter; a 158km ride from Thurles to Loughrea. Two third category climbs come in the opening 60km, and as the race heads in a North-East direction, the route becomes flatter. A finishing circuit of 16km takes brings us into the finish.

Those who want to win this race will need to be prominent on Stage three. Clocking in at 201km – the longest stage of the Tour – the route from Ballinrobe to Galway passses over four second category climbs. Two of them, at Leenaun and Keeagh, come within 16km of each other, and the final ascent of the day, up the Keeagh, comes within the final 30km. Anyone dropped here will have a long and fast descent to make up lost ground.

The first two and a half hours of Stage 4 is rather flat and be a good place for a breakaway group to escape. It is only after 132km after leaving Limerick that the stage will become interesting. The 8km climb up the Conor Pass will cause a large split in the peloton, and from the top of the first-category climb the riders will descend into the finish at Dingle. The race isn't done, though, as a 36km loop will be completed before the stage ends. A short, sharp climb of Mount Eagle comes with 15km to go, so the race leader will have to be alert here if he wants to retain the Yellow Jersey.

Opting out of a processional finish to the race, the organisers have made Stage five the decisive day of the Tour. While it's the shortest of the five stages, the 25% climb of St. Patricks Hill will be climbed twice, with the last ascent of the tricky hill coming with 30km to go. The route contains very little flat, and will be a lively end to the race.

Tour of Ireland Stages:
Stage 1 Dublin - Waterford 191km - Wednesday 27th August
Stage 2 Thurles - Loughrea 158 km - Thursday 28th August
Stage 3 Ballinrobe - Galway 201 km - Friday 29th August
Stage 4 Limerick -  Dingle 186 km - Saturday 30th August
Stage 5 Killarney - Cork 144km - Sunday 31st August

The Riders
Much of the focus in Dublin will be on Columbia's Mark Cavendish. Despite being the only rider in the Great British Track team not to win a medal in Beijing, the Manxman has had a stunning year on the road thus far. This race has two stages which could be perfect for him, and if he can overcome the hills on Stage 5, this too could give him a chance to increase his ever-growing Palmares. Bernhard Eisel and Adam Hansen - two of his three Tour leadout men are also taking the start in Dublin, proving where their team's focus is.

David Millar is leading the Garmin-Chipotle team, though is unlikely to compete for the overall honours. Dan Martin is riding on home soil, and is the National Champion too. He states his climbing as his strong point, and the route could be perfect for him. Julian Dean will be the Garmin rider to challenge Cavendish in the sprints, while Magnus Backstedt and Martin Maaskant will look to get in breakaway groups.

Rabobank are brining a young squad to the race, though in Thomas Berkhout they have a rider capable of winning the event. He finished second in Dublin last year, and has also placed in the runner up spot in the 2008 Tour de Normandie. He is touted as a potential winner of the Spring Classics, so the rolling terrain won't be a problem for the Dutch rider.

Russell Downing – fresh from taking the overall honours in the British Premier Calendar series – will be taking the start and will compete for stage wins. A strong showing overall is possible, though he may decide to use the race as preparation for the Tour of Britain. Also in his team is 47 year-old Malcom Elliott, still riding and showing no sign of wanting to retire. In the sprints, the pedigree and efficiency of the Columbia and Garmin teams will show his legs aren't what they used to be.

Team Type 1
Ready To Contest Irish Tour
Team Type 1 Sport Director Ed Beamon returns to the Tour of Ireland with a new squad this year, but the same attitude that earned his team a podium finish on the final stage of the inaugural edition of the race. Beamon's Team Type 1 squad includes two riders who competed in Ireland last year: Ukrainian Valeriy Kobzarenko and Mexican Moises Aldape. Kobzarenko finished eighth overall while riding for Beamon’s Navigators Insurance squad. Aldape was 17th for the Italian Ceramica Panaria-Navigare squad.

Fans of Team Type 1 can watch coverage of the 112 riders from 16 teams in the race on the Versus Network in four, one-hour segments beginning Wednesday, Aug. 27. Stage 1 airs from 6-7 p.m. EST.

The podium finish was achieved last year on Stage 5 by Irish national champion David O'Loughlin, who now rides for the Ireland Pezula Racing squad.

“We are really excited to be back at Tour of Ireland this time with the new Team Type 1 squad,” Beamon said. "Kobzarenko and Aldape both had strong showings in Ireland last year, and I think the new race format will favor guys like Glen Chadwick and Matt Wilson.”

Chadwick, a former New Zealand time trial champion, is coming off a third place finish overall at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, in addition to winning the King of the Mountains classification. Aldape will be racing with the team for the first time since competing along with Chadwick in the Olympics. “The team is in good form right now, so we will be trying for a good GC spot and we are always in the hunt for stage victories," Beamon said.

In addition to Kobzarenko, Chadwick, Aldape and Wilson, Team Type 1’s roster includes sprinter Emile Abraham and white jersey (best rider under 25) contender Fabio Calabria – one of four riders on the pro squad who has Type 1 diabetes.

Former Ukrainian junior road race champion Aleksandr Surutkovych was also signed to add strength to the team’s roster for one of the best-organized events on the international race calendar. “The Tour of Ireland is a top-shelf event offering some of the best in European cycling,” Beamon said. “It is also a big opportunity to put Fabio in another major international stage race and give him an opportunity to not only contribute to the team’s winning efforts, but also tell his story about controlling diabetes and taking charge of your life to a whole new audience.”

Tour of Ireland: Teams, Riders and Bib Numbers:

Team Columbia (USA)
Manager: Brian Holm
1 Cavendish, Mark (GBR)
2 Eisel, Bernhard (AUT)
3 Hansen, Adam (AUS)
4 Pinotti, Marco (ITA)
5 Possoni, Morris (ITA)
6 Rabon, Frantisek (CZE)
7 Barry, Michael (CAN)

Garmin/Chipotle p/by H30 (USA)
Manager: Matt White
11 Millar, David (GBR)
12 Martin, Dan (IRL)
14 Backstedt, Magnus (SWE)
15 Dean, Julian (NZL)
16 Maaskant, Martijn (NED)
17 Patour, Kilian (FRA)
18 Sutton, Chris (AUS)

Tinkoff Credit Systems (Russia)
Manager: Omar Piscina
21 Loddo, Alberto (ITA)
22 Klimov, Serguei (RUS)
23 Gottfried, Alexander (GER)
24 Chernetskiy, Ilya (RUS)
25 Mazzanti, Luca (ITA)
26 Riccio, Bernardo (ITA)
27 Graziato, Massimo (ITA)

CSF Group Navigare (Italy)
Manager: Fabiano Fontanelli
31 Savini, Filippo (ITA)
32 Priamo, Matteo (ITA)
33 Tomei, Francesco (ITA)
34 Bongiorno, Ruben (ARG)
35 Richeze, Mauro (ARG)
36 Richeze, Max (ARG)
37 Dall'Antonia, Tiziano (ITA)

Team Type 1 (USA)
Manager: Edward Beamon
41 Aldape, Moises (MEX)
42 Brooks, Ben (AUS)
43 Calabria, Fabio (AUS)
44 Chadwick, Glen (NZL)
45 Kobzarenko, Valeriy (UKR)
46 Wilson, Matt (AUS)
47 Abraham, Emile (TRI)

Topsport Vlaanderen (Belgium)
Manager: Walter Planckaert
51 Coenen, Johan (BEL)
52 Dehaes, Kenny (BEL)
53 Hovelijnck, Kurt (BEL)
54 Maes, Nikolas (BEL)
55 Neyens, Maarten (BEL)
56 Nolf, Frederiek (BEL)
57 Renders, Sven (BEL)

An Post-M. Donnelly-
Grant Thorton-
Sean Kelly Team (Ireland)

Manager: Kurt Bogaerts
61 O'Brien, Paidi (IRL)
62 Cassidy, Mark (IRL)
63 Gallagher, Stephen (IRL)
64 Lloyd, Daniel (GBR)
65 Fleeman, Daniel (GBR)
66 Lisabett, Kenny (BEL)
67 De Schrooder, Kurt (BEL)

Irish National Team (Ireland)
Manager: Frank Campbell
71 McCann, David (IRL)
72 Griffin, Paul (IRL)
73 Healion, Paul (IRL)
74 Aiken, Roger (IRL)
75 Lacey, Sean (IRL)
76 Concannon, Miceal (IRL)
77 O'Sullivan, Stephen (IRL)

Karpin Galicia  (Spain)
Manager: Jesus Blanco Villar
81 Troncoso Sobrino, Ramon (ESP)
82 Rabunal Rios, Gonzalo (ESP)
83 Mouron Doldan, Juan Francisco (ESP)
84 Fernandez Cruz, Delio (ESP)
85 Fernandez Sainz, Alberto (ESP)
86 Abal Diego, David (ESP)
87 Paleo Mosquera, Alejandro (ESP) (Australia)
Manager: Brian Stephens
91 Clarke, Simon (AUS)
92 Sulzberger, Wesley (AUS)
93 Meyer, Travis (AUS)
94 Walker, Johnnie (AUS)
95 Semple, Adam (AUS)
96 King, Matt (AUS)
97 Dempster, Zakkari (AUS)

Rabobank (Netherlands)
Manager: Piet Kuijs
101 Aernouts, Bart (NED)
102 Beima, Marcel (NED)
103 Berkhout, Thomas (NED)
104 Van Poppel, Boy (NED)
105 Popov, Evgeny (BEL
106 Rabou, Thomas (NED)
107 Van Staeyen, Michael (NED)

MTN Energade (South Africa)
Manager: Kandice Buys
111 McDonald, Neil (RSA)
112 George, David (RSA)
113 Woolcock, Waylon (RSA)
114 Thomson, Jay (RSA)
115 Potgieter, Bradley (RSA)
116 Evans, Kevin (RSA)
117 van Heerden, Juan (RSA)

Rapha-Condor/ (Britain)

Manager: John Herety
121 Downing, Dean (GBR)
122 House, Kristian (GBR)
123 Greenwood, Ben (GBR)
124 Partridge, Rob (GBR)
125 Briggs, Graham (GBR)
126 Appleby, Dale (GBR)
127 Holt, Simon (GBR)

Pinarello-CandiTV (Britain)
Manager: tbc
131 Downing, Russell (GBR)
132 Elliott, Malcom (GBR)
133 Roche, Andy (IRL)
134 Davis, Lee (GBR)
135 Murray, Tom (GBR)
136 Williams, Peter (GBR)
137 Kipling, Mathew (GBR)

Joker Bianchi (Norway)
Manager: Gino Van Oudenhove
141 Kristoff, Alexander (NOR)
142 Nordhaug, Lars Petter (NOR)
143 Stokstad, Ing (NOR)
144 Bohler, Joachim (NOR)
145 Vold, Sven Erik (NOR)
146 Willman, Frederik (NOR)
147 Sommerseth, Stian (NOR)

Pezula Racing (Ireland)
Manager: tbc
151 O'Loughlin, David (IRL)
152 Power, Ciarán (IRL)
153 Page, Kieran (GBR)
154 Jennings, Cameron (AUS)
155 Wetterhall, Alexander (SWE)
156 Ericsson, Fredrik (SWE)
157 Irvine, Martin (IRL)


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