The 2023 National Road Series starts in Blarney this Sunday.

Cycling season gets into gear

While top stars like Tour de France stage winner Sam Bennett won’t be there, the Irish domestic road cycling season kicks off in earnest this weekend in Cork.

The 2023 Road National Series starts this Sunday 26 March as Blarney Cycling Club hosts the opening round.

The Road National Series heads to Cork for the Donal Crowley Memorial Race, the first of 7 rounds of exciting racing.

With the road season getting underway earlier this month, the best riders from around Ireland will do battle in Blarney in what should be a thrilling opener.

Riders will take on the challenging roads north-west of Blarney and will face some tough climbs, including the spectacular Nadd mountain climb, in both the men’s and women’s races.

The men’s race features 140km and 1,460m of climbing as riders take on two laps of a hilly circuit before heading back towards Blarney for the finish.

The women’s race will be 90km in length and over 900m of climbing as the peloton race through one lap of the circuit before making their way back to Blarney.

Event organiser Declan Shine said: “Once again, we can promise an excellent race comprising of tough terrain in keeping with a National Series event. It is a spectacular route and will be exciting for both riders and spectators.

“The event has all the ingredients of a classic road race, with top class fields from across the country along with our own Blarney Cycling Club riders. The route goes over Nadd mountain this year from the Banteer side – once for the Women's National Series race and twice for the Men's National Series Race. This is the highest point of the race and offers spectacular views too.

“Blarney Cycling Club was established in 1886 and we wanted to host an event worthy of the rich tradition of cycling in Blarney over many decades. For anyone preparing for the Ras Tailteann or Ras Mumhan, this is a must ride event. In addition to the National Series Races, we will also host an A3 race too.”

He added: “This year will be tinged with great sadness with the recent passing of Patsy Crowley, Donal’s brother. Patsy’s contribution to cycling in Blarney alongside Donal was immeasurable and they both played integral roles in the successes the club experienced over many years. It is our goal to hold an event worthy enough to honour both Patsy and Donal. May they rest in peace.”

The race HQ is at Blarney GAA Club and sign-on for riders is at 10am and all races are scheduled to get underway at 12pm.