There is a lot of talk this year about the new route for the 160k Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford. With Mahon Falls and the Mauma road now excluded many have speculated that it will be easier and less of a challenge. That would probably be the wrong assumption to make.
The new route takes in some of the most spectacular cycling roads in not just County Waterford but in the entire Country as a whole.
Leaving Dungarvan you now follow alongside the most breathtaking part of the Waterford Greenway with the calming waves of the Celtic Sea which is part of the Atlantic Ocean within touching distance on your right hand side.
When the greenway turns inland you still continue on towards the picturesque seaside village of Bonmahon where a left turn points you inland and upwards towards the village of Kill and the first Water stop. You will have had little or no flat roads up to now as the road gently rises and falls like spread out waves on the ocean. This theme will continue as you pass through Kilmacthomas until you eventually reach the home of the Portlaw Village Wheelers where the first categorised climb of The Scrouty is classed as the first test of the day.
With over 50k of hard roads already covered it will be important to pace yourself here. It is a long drag that gets steeper near the top. On its own not too bad but with what is in store up ahead it will be important to keep your powder dry and ride nice and steady to the top.
A quick descent is followed by a chalk and cheese stretch of road way, or smooth tarmac versus cobbles before turning inland towards Clonea Power and the Rollercoaster up and down road to Rathgormack.
This was traditionally the second food stop but is now the first food stop of the day, so be sure to stop and take on fuel for what is soon to follow.
Another rolling road will then bring you down onto the back road from Carrick to Clonmel, or the Back road to Roubaix as us locals call it. You will soon see why.
Then with 90km already covered you arrive at the foot of Tickincor and Powers the Pot. Previously you would only have only done 50k of less challenging roads to get to this point. In the past this meant that the first group practically raced to here with many arriving with average speeds in excess of 40kph. If you do that this year you will either be ready for a place with Team Sky in the Vuelta, or else you will blow up. The choice is yours.
This climb is one that I know well, having climbed it 21 times in a single day to reach slightly higher than the height of Mount Everest or 30,103 feet of climbing in one continuous effort. On the way to the summit 5.5km up above you will pass the highest residence in Ireland at Powers the Pot before reaching not only the highest point of roadway in County Waterford but one of the highest roads in Ireland that is 9 meters higher than the Conor Pass. Treat the climb with respect or you will suffer like a dog.
The first 200m is where most get it wrong. If you go into the red here you will not recover and many end up walking so much that they need new cleats at the top. As soon as you turn in at the bottom drop into the very lowest gear on your bike and go as slow as you can without falling over until you reach the Artists house up above after about 250m. Try to hold yourself back slightly if you can. DO NOT MAKE A BURST FOR THE CORNER UP AHEAD THAT YOU CAN SEE. If you make it over the first 250m without stopping and you ride very steadily from there to the top you will make it.
Near the top of Tickincor itself there is another kick up. Again treat this with respect. You still have another 2.5k to go to the actual summit. At Harneys Cross where in previous years you would turn right for the descent down into Clonmel, you now go straight on and face the first ramp towards Powers the Pot. Here again use the lowest gear on your bike and leave it there on the false flat before the real challenge up ahead. The part of roadway up past Powers the Pot campsite has a gradient of over 20%. If it’s wet stay in the saddle or your rear wheel could loose traction and spin out. Once you reach the mast the worst is well and truly over and it is just a drag up to the summit 500m up ahead.
The descent can be very fast and it is easy to reach speeds in excess of 80kph, but be careful as there will be slower and more nervous riders up ahead so it is best to ride this with caution. At the bottom there is a very tight T junction so start scrubbing off your speed when you reach the tress on the left hand side well before the junction itself.
Now you are back climbing again on the climb that was used in previous years which was also called Powers the Pot. This is a long drag and with tired legs can be a real challenge so be sure to ride nice and steady and forget all about Strava.
At the top it is a nice descent down into Clonmel. Be careful on the hairpin bends and you will make it down in one piece.
Hillview in Clonmel is now the second foodstop. Some will be very happy to stop and refuel here whilst others might choose to keep going straight on to the finish with all of the major challenges of the route now behind them.
From here it is back out the main Dungarvan road through the village of Ballymacarbry and another water stop. It was hoped to bring the route along part of the Comeragh drive at this point but for this year it will now just follow the main road all the way to the finish in Dungarvan where you will have completed the 160k and climbed over 300m more than previous years.
The 100k route stays the same and is still as spectacular as ever whilst the 50k now heads off east towards the foodstop in Kilmacthomas and will take in some of the fabulous scenery of both the Comeragh Mountains and the Copper Coast.
You can still enter for the event and will be able to do so right up until 12pm on Friday August 18th.
To enter just follow the link below :
There will also be the very popular family 12k on Saturday the 19th so why not make a weekend of it and bring all of the family along.