Tour de France in Ireland

11th July 1998
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The Tour de France en Irlande an unforgettable event for Irish cycling enthusiasts and sports fans of all ages. For the first time in history, the Tour de France took to Ireland in 1998 for its 'Grand Départ' opening stages (July 11-13). Dublin came to a standstill for the weekend and all of the towns and villages along the route got into the spirit of having Le Tour pass through, and planned French-Irish festivals as Le Tour travelled south towards Cork.

This was the first time for the Irish Government to fund a major sporting event to come to Ireland. People travelled from all over Ireland, and many from abroad, to witness this French sporting spectacle taking place in Ireland.  Ireland looked magnificent as live images were broadcast worldwide and the event was a huge success

July 11: The Tour started with a prologue time trial around the streets of Dublin starting at Trinity College and passing by Leinster House, Merrion Square, St Stephen's Green, Winetavern St, St. Patrick's Cathedral and the River Liffey along Ormond Quay. Here, Chris Boardman (pictured above) covered the 5.6 km route fastest with a time of 6:12.36 minutes 

July 12: Stage 1 was a loop, passing through Dundrum (home of 1987 Tour winner Stephen Roche), on to Bray and into the mountains, through the Wicklow Gap, descending back through Blessington to return to the city, finishing in Phoenix Park.

July 13: Stage 1  travelled down the Irish eastern coast from Enniscorthy to Cork.  En route, the race paid tribute to two famous former Irish professional cyclists: Seamus Elliott of Kilmacanogue - (the first Irish rider to ride the Tour and win a stage) and Sean Kelly of Carrick-on-Suir (four-time winner of the Tour's points classification). The anniversary of French troops landing at Killala Bay during the Irish Rebellion of 1798 was also commemorated during Stage 2. 

The riders then headed for France by air (with the team vehicles and equipment following to Roscoff supported by StenaLine). The FIFA World Cup, held in France that same month, was part of the reason the race started a week later than usual. 

After the success of the Tour’s visit, the Irish Government announced a new strategy specifically aimed at bringing major sports events to Ireland.

READ MORE Stephen Roche becomes first Irishman to win the Tour de France

ALSO  Pat McQuaid on organising the Tour de France in Ireland

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