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ROAD RACING Last Updated: 4 Apr 2018 - 3:13:57 PM

National Road Series – Nenagh Classic 2nd April
By Heather Boyle, Communications Officer
30 Mar 2017,

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EOIN MORTON will bid to defend his Gas Networks Ireland Nenagh Classic crown this Sunday, as the Cycling Ireland National Road Series hits top gear in Tipperary.

After a low-key start to the elite domestic campaign at the Des Hanlon in Carlow, round two is billed as Ireland’s longest and toughest race, starting and finishing in the vibrant town centre of Nenagh.

Its mastermind, Rene van Dam, launched the race six years ago, aiming to elevate the County Tipperary event to Ireland’s biggest Classic. Morton, for one, thinks he’s done it.

“It’s the coolest race we have on the domestic calendar by a long shot,” he said. “Rene does such a good job. It’s not your typical four left turns in the middle of nowhere. It keeps you on your toes, you really have to read the racebook the night beforehand.”

Morton’s victory in the 169km race last year signalled the start of a dream run, which peaked with an historic stage win at the An Post Ras.

“It’s key to have races leading into the Ras of this length. There’s only really this and the Shay Elliot,” he said, adding: “There’s in the region of 2,000km of climbing in this race, and it races through the town centre twice! More of that please, I say.”

On his own form, Morton was cautious; the UCD Cycling Club rider has already won a race this season, but fears a minor illness since may have set him back.

He said: “The form is okay. I had a little bit of a sickness a week ago and I don’t know where I’ll lie. I’ll not be panicking about it though, I’m more worried about making the right decisions, and getting in the break.

“There’s a few guys in incredible form right now; Matteo Cigala and the AquaBlue Academy, Conn McDunphy - it’s amazing how well he’s going - and if Damien Shaw, a former national champion, is there, he’s always one to watch, regardless of whether he’s coming back from injury or not.”

Morton will be backed by the full weight of the UCD team, barring the ill Ian Richardson, while Dutch squad NWVG Fila send a team of eight over and AquaBlue Academy also field eight.

The second round of the Women’s National Road Series will take place on the same course over 81km, 2015 winner Eve McCrystal leading this year’s series after victory in the Des Hanlon.

The margin of success being so small that day, Nenagh’s hillier course looks set to shake up the placings, Scott Orwell’s Ciara Kinch, last year’s National Road Series champion Claire McIlwaine, and bang in-form De Ronde CC rider Sinnead Oakes all likely to challenge.

Sign on opens at 9am in the Abbey Court Hotel on the Dublin Road, with the first races off at 10.30am and a Family Fun Cycle taking place at 11am.

For those looking for an early thrill; the now famed Nenagh Classic Team Time Trial will start at 2pm on Saturday, running 28.3km from Five Alley on the R445 to Bird Alley and back.

Dutch team NWVG Fila hold the record for this event and will again set the standard for the home clubs to chase. The event will also incorporate the Munster Team Time Trial Championships.

Events in Series

March 19th Des Hanlon Carlow

April 2nd Visit Nenagh Nenagh, Tipperary

May 7th (W) Deenside Cup Castlecomer, Kilkenny
May 14th (M) Shay Elliot Bray, Wicklow

June 11th Brian MacNamara Galway

July 16th Mullingar GP Mullingar, Westmeath

August 12th John Beggs Memorial Banbridge, Down

September 2nd Laragh Classic Wicklow

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