The future of the Junior Tour of Ireland, the biggest race for U18 riders in the country, is under threat because of a funding crisis.
Race director Alice Sherratt has admitted the event, which doesn’t have a sponsor, has been surviving on cash reserves accumulated during the Celtic Tiger era.
However during the downturn organisers were forced to turn to those reserves each year with the monies now “reaching an end point”.
“The race costs €35,000 to promote and now I only have €10,000 for next year,” Sherratt said, referring to the race grant funding provided by Cycling Ireland.
“We had money (saved) from before, but that’s all gone now; it’s finished, we’ve no money in the bank.”
She added that but for the generosity of the Irish Veteran Cyclists’ Association (IVCA) and Clare County Council, who combined to provide €10,000 last year; the event would have already run into financial distress.
While Usher Irish Road Club had granted her permission to retain for the Junior Tour any surplus revenue from her promotion of the Bikeworx Series in Mondello, Kildare, during the summer months, there was still a massive shortfall for the junior showpiece in the summer.
“We literally don’t have the money,” she said. “I’m going to have to go out now and see if I can get more sponsors but it’s an impossibility.
“I’ll have to go back to the council in Clare to see if I can get the €5,000 for next year again, and the same with the IVCA.
“This race could go. I really mean that, we might lose this race. We just don’t have the money to keep this going.
“We lost Stena as a sponsor and then we lost M Donnelly and since then we haven’t had a sponsor.”
At the annual general meeting of Cycling Ireland in Athlone on Saturday a proposal was discussed that would have seen a €2 levy placed on all racing licences next year, with the estimated €8,000 raised to go to the Junior Tour.
The motion, proposed by Bikeworx Celbridge CC, was discussed by delegates before being defeated by 46 votes to 26.
A number of those who spoke said while the Irish cycling community supported the race and wanted to see it survive, they opposed the imposition of a levy on the basis it created a dangerous precedent.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved