On Saturday 17th September, Ballycastle will welcome Irish Pro Cyclist, Philip Deignan as well as hundreds of other cyclists from across the UK and Ireland to take part in the first ever Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive.
Sportives, regarded as the cousin of a runner’s marathon, are long-distance, mass participation events and are fast becoming one of the most popular disciplines in road cycling. They are not races; they simply allow cyclists to challenge themselves against the distance and the clock.
Philip Deignan, the 27 year old Radioshack star from Letterkenny, is set to join scores of keen amateur cyclists on a choice of three routes through the Causeway Coast and Glens of Antrim and will also be speaking about his pro career so far, his relationship with Lance Armstrong and his gruelling training regime at an intimate pre-event dinner on the Friday night at Ballycastle Golf Club.
With support from Moyle District Council and Antrim based cycling retailer Chain Reaction Cycles, the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive will start and finish in Ballycastle and routes will pass by the Giant’s Causeway, Dunseverick Castle, Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge before leading through the stunning Glens of Antrim and the infamously hilly Torr Head Road at the North Eastern tip of the County.
Speaking at the press launch of the event, Moyle District Council Tourism Development Officer, Kerrie McGonigle said: “The Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive will help raise the profile of the District of Moyle through priceless media coverage with attention placed not only on the event but also on the many attractions that the area has to offer. The large numbers of participants and spectators from throughout the island of Ireland and further afield will help bolster the local economy and the local tourism industry.”
Philip Deignan joined Moyle District Council Chairman Paudi McShane for press photos at the Giant’s Causeway last week and said: “I am really looking forward to coming back to Ireland to be part of this unique sportive. It looks like it is going to be a great event with fantastic scenic cycling along the coast and through the glens with some challenging hill climbs to look forward to. Luckily hills happen to be my own personal strength so it will be a great opportunity to train before I head off to the UCI Road World Championships in Copenhagen.”
The entry level 57km ‘Causeway Coaster’ is designed for those who occasionally get out on the bike but would like to set themselves an achievable target to work towards. The medium distance 126km ‘Glens and Coast’ route is more challenging with some tough hill climbs rewarding your efforts with exciting descents.
Then there is the 182km ‘Giant Killer’. This long distance route contains some of Northern Ireland’s most infamous hill climbs and will really only suit serious cyclists who are used to pounding out the miles on a weekly basis. “Each of the three routes offer a cycling experience you are unlikely to ever forget… for a number of reasons” concluded Aideen.
The Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive is an initiative of the Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) in partnership with 26 Extreme and has been funded by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) supported by Chain Reaction Cycles and Moyle District Council. Entry fee is £35 per person which includes a free buff (RRP £13.50), ChampionChip electronic timing, hydration and feed stations as well as hot food after the event.
A dedicated event website has been set up with more information on the sportive including route maps, photos and elevation charts. On this website you can book your place on the sportive and also book a place for the pre-event dinner evening with Philip Deignan for £15. Visit www.giantscausewaycoastsportive.com for more information.