Tour of Ireland
September and October 1985–1992 |
August 2007, 2008
Nissan Classic (1985–1992)|
Tour of Ireland 2007–09
|Nickname(s)||Nissan Classic (1985–1992)|
|Competition||UCI Europe Tour|
|Type||Stage race (2.1)|
|Organiser||The Events Group / Shadetree Sports|
|Editions||35 (as of 2009)|
|Most wins||Sean Kelly (IRL) (4 wins)|
|Most recent||Russell Downing (GBR)|
The Tour of Ireland (Irish: Turas na hÉireann, known from 1985 to 1992 as the Nissan Classic) was a bicycle stage race held in August, which ran for 35 editions over a 56 year period. Irish rider Sean Kelly has the most wins recorded, four.
The first Tour of Ireland race debuted in 1953 and ran until 1957. It was revived in 1965 and ran until 1985. In 1985 the 5 day Nissan International Classic took over as the Tour of Ireland. This lasted for 8 years until 1992. The race returned 15 years later, in 2007, as the Tour of Ireland and was part of the UCI Europe Tour.
The organisers confirmed on 1 June 2010 that the 2010 race would not take place due to a financial shortfall.
The Tour of Ireland was a cycling stage race that was run in Ireland between 1953 and 1984. It was organised originally by the Cumann Rothaíochta na hÉireann (CRE) which was later renamed the Federation of Irish Cyclists. In 1953 the Irish Government initiated An Tóstal, a cultural festival, and asked all Irish sporting bodies to participate. As part of this the CRE ran a four-day Tour of Ireland. With sponsorship from An Tostal, Aspro and Hercules cycles, the event was known as the Tostal Tour and was a big success throughout most of the country, although it was said to have "had a hard time in the NCA heartlands of Kerry" There is limited information about the race available on the internet and no book has been written about the event. The inaugural edition was a 4-day race won by Brian Haskell from John Perks and A Walker. Seamus Elliot who later won a stage and wore the yellow jersey in the 1963 Tour de France finished tenth overall. Briton Brian Robinson who also won a stage in the Tour de France finished fifth in this first edition. According to Alf Buttler, an amateur cyclist during and after the second world war the leader’s jersey was purple and the race continued but as a seven-day race the following year, 1954, beginning on Thursday 29 April. The 1954 race was covered by J B Wadley and photographer Bill Lovelace for The Bicycle magazine and a full report appeared in the 5 May issue. Bernard Pusey (England A team) won from Seamus Elliott (Ireland A team) and Tony Hoar (England B team). According to Bray Wheelers, an Irish cycling club from Bray, Wicklow, the event continued until 1957 when it stopped but was revived in 1965. During the seventies the race was known as the Raleigh Dunlop Tour of Ireland. The event continued to 1984. Winners during this period include Doug Dailey (1971, 1973), Liam Horner (1972), a double Olympian, Tony Lally (1974), a 1980 Olympian and the youngest ever winner at age 20, Pat McQuaid (1975, 1976), former UCI President, Angel Arroyo (1977), runner up in 1983 Tour de France, John Shortt (1978) and Ron Hayman (1979) who was followed home by Phil Anderson, Stephen Roche and Robert Miller in 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
The Nissan International Classic was then organised from 1985 until 1992 which it appears took over from the Tour of Ireland. The Nissan Classic was referred to as the Tour of Ireland by the famous Irish cyclist Stephen Roche during the 1987 edition.
Nissan International Classic
The race was organised by the Events Group and it was sponsored by Nissan. Alan Rushton was the race controller and future President of the UCI, Pat McQuaid, was the race director. It was a hugely successful event that captured the spirit and imagination of the race going public who stood at the side of the road in vast numbers. The event occurred during the golden age of Irish cycling when Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche were at the height of their success in European cycling. Kelly dominated the Irish event by winning four  of the eight races. Roche won two stages in the first edition and finished second in the 1987 edition while wearing the rainbow jersey of world champion but never won the event. The event used the most famous 'wall' in Ireland – the steep ascent of St. Patricks Hill in Cork city as the finale of a stage in almost every edition of the event. Other areas that the event regularly visited included Kelly's hometown of Carrick-on-Suir in County Tipperary, O'Connell Street in Limerick and Eyre Square in Galway. The race used to finish on O'Connell Street in Dublin after doing many laps of a circuit in the city centre.
After a break of fifteen years, it was announced that the event was returning to Ireland in early 2007 and sponsored by Fáilte Ireland and called the Tour of Ireland. This event was organised by the Events Group and Shadetree Sports and the route of the race took in many of the same areas that the Nissan Classic covered. Just like the 1987 edition of the Nissan Classic, the Tour of Ireland started from Kilkenny Castle. The first stage used St. Patricks Hill in Cork city in its finale. The five-day stage race concluded on 26 August and was won by Stijn Vandenbergh of Belgium. Lance Armstrong & Mark Cavendish took part in the 2009 edition, which was shortened to a 3-day event due to the economic downturn.  The organisers confirmed on 1 June 2010 that the 2010 race would not take place due to a financial shortfall, but that they hope it will return in 2011. It was due to take place from 18 August to 22 August 2010.
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- "Tour cancelled due to lack of funds". RTÉ Sport. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 1 June 2010. Archived from the original on 4 June 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2010.