The Tour of Ireland (Irish: Turas na hÉireann, known from 1985 to 1992 as the Nissan Classic) was a bicycle stage race held in August, which ran for 35 editions over a 56 year period. Irish rider Sean Kelly recorded the most wins, four. The first Tour of Ireland race debuted in 1953 and ran until 1957. It was revived in 1965 and ran until 1985. In 1985 the 5-day Nissan International Classic took over as the Tour of Ireland. This lasted for 8 years until 1992. The race returned 15 years later, in 2007, as the Tour of Ireland and was part of the UCI Europe Tour. The organisers confirmed on 1 June 2010 that the 2010 race would not take place due to a financial shortfall, and as of 2019, there is no further news of a revival.
The original Tour of Ireland was a cycling stage race run in Ireland between 1953 and 1984, and organised by the internationally-recognised governing body, Cumann Rothaíochta na hÉireann (CRE), later reformed as the Federation of Irish Cyclists. As part of this the CRE ran a four-day Tour of Ireland. There is limited information about the race available on the internet and no book has been written about the event. The inaugural edition was a 4-day race won by Brian Haskell from John Perks and A Walker. Seamus Elliot who later won a stage and wore the yellow jersey in the 1963 Tour de France finished tenth overall. Briton Brian Robinson who also won a stage in the Tour de France finished fifth in this first edition. According to Alf Buttler, an amateur cyclist during and after the second world war the leader’s jersey was purple and the race continued but as a seven-day race the following year, 1954, beginning on Thursday 29 April. Bernard Pusey (England A team) won from Seamus Elliott (Ireland A team) and Tony Hoar (England B team). According to Bray Wheelers, an Irish cycling club from Bray, Wicklow, the event continued until 1957.
During the seventies the race was known as the Raleigh Dunlop Tour of Ireland. The event continued to 1984. The Nissan International Classic was then organised from 1985 until 1992 which it appears took over from the Tour of Ireland. The Nissan Classic was referred to as the Tour of Ireland by the famous Irish cyclist Stephen Roche during the 1987 edition. The race was organised by the Events Group and was sponsored by Nissan; Alan Rushton was the race controller and future President of the UCI, Pat McQuaid, was the race director. It was a hugely successful event that captured the spirit and imagination of the race going public who stood at the side of the road in vast numbers. The event occurred during the golden age of Irish cycling when Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche were at the height of their success in European cycling. Kelly dominated the Irish event by winning four of the eight races. Roche won two stages in the first edition and finished second in the 1987 edition while wearing the rainbow jersey of world champion but never won the event. The event used the most famous 'wall' in Ireland – the steep ascent of St. Patricks Hill in Cork city as the finale of a stage in almost every edition of the event. The race used to finish on O'Connell Street in Dublin after doing many laps of a circuit in the city centre.
After a break of fifteen years, it was announced that the event was returning to Ireland in early 2007 and sponsored by Fáilte Ireland and called the Tour of Ireland. This event was organised by the Events Group and Shadetree Sports and the route of the race took in many of the same areas that the Nissan Classic covered. Just like the 1987 edition of the Nissan Classic, the Tour of Ireland started from Kilkenny Castle. The first stage used St. Patricks Hill in Cork city in its finale. The five-day stage race concluded on 26 August and was won by Stijn Vandenbergh of Belgium. The organisers confirmed on 1 June 2010 that the 2010 race would not take place due to a financial shortfall, but that they hoped it will return in 2011. It was due to take place from 18 August to 22 August 2010.
Brian Haskell United Kingdom Bernard Pusey United Kingdom England Brian Haskell United Kingdom Jimmy Rae United Kingdom Brian Jolly United Kingdom United Kingdom
Peter Doyle Ireland Morris Foster United Kingdom
Paul Elliot Ireland Bray Wheelers
11 Liam Horner Ireland Doug Dailey United Kingdom
14 1974 Tony Lally Ireland
15 1975 Pat McQuaid Ireland Pat McQuaid (2) Ireland
17 1977 18 1978 John Shortt Ireland
Northern Ireland England Northern Ireland
Bob Downs United Kingdom
25 1985 Sean Kelly Ireland Sean Kelly (2) Ireland Guinness-Kas Mavic 1987 Sean Kelly (3) Ireland Sean Kelly (4) Ireland Stephen Roche
33 2007 Matt Wilson Russell Downing
Russell Downing United Kingdom Russell Downing
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