The inaugural Wild Atlantic Way Cycle Sportif got underway in Kinsale this morning as cyclists gathered to embark on the unique event which features 17 stages spanning over 2,000km of the Irish coastline. The multi stage Sportif is the first of its kind in Ireland and visits nine counties from Co. Cork to Co. Donegal between Wednesday September 13 and Friday September 29, 2017. Cyclists can register for any stage up to the day before.

The Wild Atlantic Way Cycle Sportif is a full supported event, with participation open to leisure cyclists, amateurs and those who simply want to challenge themselves to an epic adventure, on one of the longest and most spectacular touring routes in the world.

Over the 17 stages, cyclists will experience 2,058 of spectacular coastline along the Wild Atlantic Way taking in the following:

2 islands: Valentia, Achill

2 ferries: Valentia and Tarbert

5 Classic Climbs: Sheep’s Head, Beara Peninsula, Coominaspic, Conor Pass, and Glengesh Pass

8 lighthouses

15 Wild Atlantic Way Signature Discovery Points

255 towns and villages

And they’ll also be bringing 150 puncture repair kits!

A core element of the Wild Atlantic Way Cycle Sportif is how the spectacular coastline scenery combines with the local culture in each of the communities to deliver a unique experience and welcome for the cyclists, with the chance for participants to immerse themselves in the towns along the route.

Commenting on the Wild Atlantic Way Cycle Sportif, Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland, Paul Kelly, said; “The Wild Atlantic Way Cycle Sportif got underway this morning in Kinsale, showcasing the spectacular scenery on our coastline to a new audience and giving them the chance to experience the Wild Atlantic Way in an engaging way. Leisure cyclists will be immersed in a range of local communities over the next 17 days, with some 255 towns and villages along the route, and further incentivised by the support we are offering with logistics and events planned along the route. We believe that this year’s Sportif will build the Wild Atlantic Way’s reputation as an attractive cycling destination. The event will take place biannually from 2018 in April and September.”

Michael O'Boyle, Tour Director at Ride Wild commented, “Kinsale hosted the first stage for this multi stage Sportif - an event like no other on the Irish cycling calendar, which will appeal to people with a passion for cycling, and for the Wild Atlantic Way. Cyclists received a warm welcome from the local communities as they enjoyed a unique cycling experience on the coastline. We’re confident that this multi stage Sportif will attract a lot of interest this year, further building in 2018 and beyond. We have had great feedback from the cycling community along the route, and people have the chance to register for each stage up to the day before."

Local communities along the route will play a major role in the spring and summer events in 2018 and beyond with a range of initiatives planned, to include the chance for each host town along the route to nominate a local ambassador who they feel represents the best of their local community to act as the official starter for the Sportif as it leaves their town. Additionally, local food champions will have the opportunity to be nominated across the route celebrating the range of local fare on offer to the cyclists.

From spring 2018 each Host Town along the route of the Wild Atlantic Way Cycle Sportif, from Kinsale to Muff, will have the opportunity to partake in the Best Host Town Welcome Award initiative, and highlight how their welcome stood out, so each town needs the support of their local community to give the Sportif a warm welcome. Schools will also be involved with a Transition year students initiative whereby one school along the route can nominate up to five TY students to join their local stage of a 2018 Sportif.

See www.wildatlanticwaycyclesportif.ie for 2017 registration information.

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