The Wild Atlantic Way Cycle Sportif 2018 spring event kicked off on 20th April, in Kinsale, West Cork.
A joint initiative between Fáilte Ireland and cycling specialists Ride Wild, the twice annual cycling event includes 16 stages covering 2,152 kilometres of coast along the Wild Atlantic Way, finishing on the 8th May in Muff in Co. Donegal.
Launched in September 2017, the Wild Atlantic Way Cycle Sportif is designed to promote the Wild Atlantic Way as a premium cycling destination for both national and international cyclists with events taking place in April/May and September. Up to 100 cyclists are taking part in each stage of the spring sportif.
Organised by Ride Wild, everything from overnight accommodation and meals to road side support is taken care of for participants. Participants in the Wild Atlantic Way Cycle Sportif spring event will have the option of covering the full distance over a set number of days, completing a stage of the event over a multi-day section of the route or joining the event for a single day.
Fiona Monaghan, Head of Activities, said: “Cycling has great potential for tourism – research indicates that the average cycling tourist spends an average of five nights attending a sportif event. This Fáilte Ireland initiative was created to attract cyclists along the full length of the route during spring and autumn in a bid to spread tourism across the region and grow tourism in the ‘shoulder seasons’ each side of summer.”
Nearly 400 official cycling sportifs take place in Ireland each year, and the number of events is growing yearly. The location of a sportif is a key driver for cycling visitors and research has revealed that 81% of potential sports tourists would identify the Wild Atlantic Way as having a strong (45%) or very strong (36%) appeal for them. It is estimated that the Wild Atlantic Way Cycle Sporitf could generate over €13m and up to 50,000 bed nights.