L’Étape de Tour to ‘bring a bit of the Tour de France’ to Killarney

Saturday, September 7th date set for popular cycling sportive series that is coming to Ireland for the first time

The popular L’Étape de Tour cycling sportive series is coming to Ireland for the first time, the new event set to start and finish in Killarney on Saturday, September 7th.

Originally started back in 1993 to allow amateur cyclists ride a stage of the Tour de France, typically on the Tour rest day, there are now 33 L’Étape events worldwide, across 25 countries and five continents.

Organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), who also organise the Tour de France, the mass participation event takes place on mostly closed roads, featuring stage timing and various classifications, plus an official podium presentation with Tour de France jerseys.

The Tour de France L’Étape typically sells out a year in advance.


Although the exact stage details of L’Étape Ireland have yet be confirmed, there will be a 135km and 100km option around Killarney, plus a 5km family ride, with about 1,590m of uphill gradient climbing.

Both routes will have three timed mountain stages taking in climbs across Molls Gap, Ballaghbeama Pass and Caragh Lake to compete for the title of king and queen on the mountain and a polka dot jersey. There will also be a sprint section where participants can battle it out for a Tour De France green jersey.

Both routes will be on closed or partially closed roads and the race and its participants will be monitored by safety officials throughout.

Speaking at the event launch in Dublin on Wednesday, former Irish professional Dan Martin said part of the appeal of L’Étape is bringing a flavour of the Tour de France to Ireland.

“It will be huge for the country from a tourist aspect, in terms of bringing people here,” said Martin. “But also getting Irish people on bikes and becoming part of the Tour de France family, it will be a great experience and what an incredible part of Ireland to be actually showcasing, using the race to showcase Kerry as a county and the incredible roads that are down there.

“It is multi-faceted the benefits it can bring to the country and the sport of cycling in Ireland. It’s open to everybody. There’s a family route as well and it’s for all levels, it’s not about riding it quickly, I’m sure there will be plenty riding it quickly but it’s about enjoying the day and the scenery and the experience.

“It’s all about the atmosphere, about bringing a little bit of the Tour de France to Kerry.

“It’s a destination, people will be coming from all over the world to ride this event, and so it is also about creating an experience over the weekend rather than just a one day event.”

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Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics