Sportives make a huge difference
Certainly 2011 was an interesting year for Irish cycling. No matter which you go for, opinions will differ as to the highlight and rightly so. Cycling Ireland can feel justifiably proud that the numbers increased significantly and hopefully will continue into the future.
The rise of Sportives has made a huge difference to the awareness of cycling at all levels. With a dramatic rise in this sector, hats off to the IVCA who led the way with the 'Wicklow 200' many years ago. This has trickled into the sponsorship area and many deserving causes benefiting from local to national level. The Government have played their part with the various initiatives towards cycling.
The Irish competitors were not found wanting on the international scene and the Irish media played their part in providing exceptional coverage. The fact that Ireland has now three places at least for the London Olympics is a huge bonus.
Daniel Martin had a magnificent stage win in the Tour of Spain and hot on the heels of that was a one-two in the inaugural Tour of Beijing. Nicholas Roche and Philip Deignan kept the good wine until the end of the season.
Then, of course, we have Matt Brammeier cementing his displays on the pro scene and lifting two Irish titles. His defence of the Irish Road Race Championship went right to the wire with inches separating himself and Daniel Martin.
Matt had won the TT title on the Friday. The championships, sponsorship by 'Champion Milk', promoted by Emyvale CC was a credit to both themselves and CI.