Whilst the Tour de France is at the forefront of most cyclists minds at the moment, CRC's Amy Brice and her fellow DID Electrical Team riders have their own French based campaign on the go this week.
Amy is joined by three medal winners from the recent National Road Race Championships in the shape of Siobhan McNamara, Mary Costelloe and Melanie Spath.
The team will line out against some of the best riders in the world in two 2.2 UCI races; the Tour de Bretagne Féminin and the Tour Feminine en Limousin. The two races will take place over 10 days, from July 11th to 21st.
Caroline Martinez, team PRO, has been planning the team’s French campaign since its creation just a few months ago. She says the trip should be a major boost, not just for those in the team but also women’s cycling in Ireland generally.
“When we set up the team at the start of the year, this is exactly what we had in mind,” she said.
“We wanted to send Irish girls to the toughest races in Europe, not only for experience but also to show off how women’s cycling in Ireland has grown and is more competitive than ever. We’re grateful to have been in constant touch with Siobhan Horgan who has been our mentor since the birth of the team.”
She added the team was delighted to bring such a strong line-up to the Tour de Bretagne and Tour du Limousin.
“No Irish county team has ever sent a squad to Europe the way we are doing it this year. All of our core riders work full time and it’s not always easy to get the time off work but we have been lucky enough to find the best guests possible to compliment the team this summer.”
After co-founding the team earlier this year the goal was always to compete in mainland Europe says Vitus Bikes supported Amy Brice.
"I've spend some time over the last few months doing some races in Belgium – it's a totally different style and the pace is fast from the get-go. I'm really looking forward to these two races in France as lining up against such big names can only be good!"
Drafted into the team for the events are Belgium-based super domestique Michelle Geoghegan, Breton Clemence Copie and Scotswoman Julie Erskine.
The team will be managed by Stewart Carr, while regular An Post Rás soigneur Amanda Clifford will look after the riders.
“Mel Spath will definitely stand out as she rides in her Irish champion’s jersey,” said Martinez.
“She is probably our strongest rider but we don’t want to name a team leader too early. We’re going to these races to gain experience and to prove that our Irish girls can be competitive even at the highest level.”
The fields in the two French races will include national teams from the USA, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and pro trade teams such as Team HiTec, Vaino Fondriest, GSD Gestion Kallisto will also be on the start line. Last year, the Tour du Limousin was won by world champion Marianne Vos.