Darach McQuaid acknowledges June deadline for plans to restart Tour of Ireland in 2015
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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Darach McQuaid acknowledges June deadline for plans to restart Tour of Ireland in 2015

by Shane Stokes at 12:00 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Is hoping that Giro d’Italia start in Ireland secures backing for home event

Darach McQuaidHaving played an important part in securing the first three days of the Giro d’Italia for Ireland, Darach McQuaid has said that hosting the race here will give the race an important, but time-limited, opportunity to reintroduce the Tour of Ireland for 2015.

McQuaid has outlined a timescale for sponsorship which he believes will need to be met if the UCI-ranked race is to be back on the calendar for next season.

“The official deadline for inclusion on the following year’s UCI calendar inclusion is June 1st. I have seen in the past some flexibility with this date but I would not take anything for granted,” he told VeloNation. “We need to have the partners in place by then and we are working hard to do so.

“The Giro in May will provide us with the perfect opportunity to showcase the sport to brands in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”

McQuaid and former race director Alan Rushton collaborated on running the Tour of Ireland, which reappeared on the calendar in 2007 and ran for three years. It ran out of cash in 2009, with the downturn in the Irish economy making it very difficult to get the backing necessary for it to continue.

There are signs that the economy is starting to pick up, and McQuaid also points out that there have been positive changes to how the sport is perceived.

“There has been a fundamental sea change in the attitude and approach by big business to the sport of cycling in the last ten years,” the Shadetree Sports co-founder asserts. “You are now more likely to be sitting opposite a cyclist than a golfer if you are meeting a CEO, a marketing director or a broker. It is almost a tired phrase now, “cycling is the new golf,” but it really is.”

He accepts that a big push is still needed to translate that interest into an actual commitment, but believes it can be done. Ironically, the tough times the sport has faced has made it a better sell in one way; getting exposure in cycling is considerably cheaper than many other sports, thus increasing its attractiveness.

“Translating this massive uptake in leisure cycling by these senior executives into revenue streams for the sport is the challenge we face,” McQuaid states. “At the very least we now get an audience with brands that previously would not have considered the sport. But thankfully, even though there have been some negative headlines in our sport in recent years, I feel incredibly upbeat about the prospects for the business side of the sport.

“The returns on investment are hard to beat. The unique nature of the potential sponsor activations offer those same sponsors incredibly innovative and exciting ways to entertain their customers. Also, the television coverage is much more sympathetic to sponsors needs than many other sports.”

The Giro d’Italia begins in Belfast on May 9th with a team time trial. The following day sees the riders embark on a 218 kilometre mainly flat stage starting and finishing in Belfast, while day three starts in Armagh and crosses the border en route to a finish in Dublin. It is 187 kilometres in length and is again expected to conclude in a sprint.

Ireland is expected to have at least two riders taking part; Dan Martin will lead the Garmin-Sharp team, while Nicolas Roche will co-lead the Tinkoff Saxo squad.

Sky’s Philip Deignan is also hoping to take part, although his chances have taken a knock due to a fractured collarbone.

The Giro d’Italia has never started before outside mainland Europe.

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