By Dan Walsh
Enniscorthy has been awarded Ville à Vélo du Tour de France Cycling City status in recognition of hosting a stage of the 1998 Tour de France and is now the only town not in mainland Europe to achieve this status.
Phil Skelton of WEXBUG (Wexford Bicycle Users Group), Dervla Tierney and Enniscorthy District Manager Ger Mackey did trojan work to pull this application together and Enniscorthy is delighted at the successful outcome.
Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy, Cathaoirleach Enniscorthy Municipal District Council said; “We now look forward to working with all the stakeholders to get the best we can from this unique award and create the conditions to create more active travel. We especially look forward to welcoming cycling visitors this summer and beyond. Tour de France is a massive brand and to come under its umbrella has much potential in terms of tapping into Irish and EU funding.”
Slaney Cycling Club, founded in 1974, back in 1996 lobbied politicians and civic authorities to invite the Tour de France to start in Ireland. The response was positive under the Minister for Sport, James McDaid T.D. It was the first time that an Irish Government funded a major sporting event to come to Ireland.
It was a dream come true on Monday July 13th when Stage 2 of the Tour de France started at the Fairgreen, Enniscorthy, and almost 200 of the world’s cycling talent travelled the 205.5kms to the finish in Cork passing via Clonroche, New Ross, Waterford and Carrick-On-Suir, home of legendary international cyclist and later race commentator Sean Kelly. The stage winner was Ján Svorada from Czechoslovakia.
A commemorative memorial ‘The Cyclist’ stands at the starting point in Fairgreen and was unveiled by cyclist Sean Kelly. The occasion has been further enhanced 23 years later with the envious title ‘Enniscorthy Cycling City’ bringing international recognition to Slaneyside once more.