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    Long Distance Road Cycling in Ireland a la Tour de France

    Author: Darragh Devaney, Operations Manager
    More by Darragh

    The Tour de France

    tour de France Ireland bike

    Whipping and zipping down hills through the brilliant Emerald Isle countryside is both fun and jaw-dropping beautiful!

    Every year, the international and insanely famous Tour de France bike race kicks off, with beautiful routes through France of course as well as other countries – the UK, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland to name a few.

    The most famous and arguably the most prestigious bike race in the world, the highly-televised Tour de France usually takes place in July, with races spread out over a 23 day period, featuring 21 daily stages. These include a mix of routes, and generally involve both sprints and mountains. Started in 1903, the Tour de France has been held annually except for the years surrounding the world wars. Even Covid-19 wasn’t enough to stop the race – though certain restrictions were implemented and the start date was pushed back to August, top cyclists from around the world still battled it out on the Tour de France.

    There are 4 winning “jersey” categories:

    • Yellow Jersey – This is the most famous, and denotes the overall winner who has completed the course in the least amount of time.
    • Green Jersey – Awarded to the person with the most points (earned by winning the stages). As sprints stages have higher points, this is often considered to be a “sprinter’s jersey,” though you do have to have all around skills to win it.
    • Polka Dot Jersey – This is the mountains jersey, and is won by the person who has the most accumulated points on mountain stages.
    • White Jersey – This is the best young rider winner, awarded to the fastest overall rider under 26.

    Not only did Covid-19 not stop the Tour de France, but as it turns out, 2020 is a good year to be an Irish cyclist. In 2020, the Green Jersey was won by Irish cyclist Sam Bennett. He became the first Irishman to win this jersey since 1989. With a massive lead, Bennett beat out seven-times-winner of the Green Jersey, Peter Sagan. (The other three jerseys were won by Slovenian Tadej Pogocar in an unprecedented win).

    Long Distance Biking Made Fun

    While the Tour de France hasn’t come to Ireland since 1998, it’s fair to say that Ireland does indeed have many beautiful routes for cycling.

    While few people are privileged enough to participate in the Tour de France, the epic race is hugely inspiring for those interested in cycling. Long distance biking in Ireland is a great way to explore the countryside of this small but varied island. While you might not be competing in the Tour de France, go ahead and let yourself be energised by the trifecta of competition, a beautiful backdrop and long distance biking.

    It’s okay to feel jealous, motivated and even a little intimidated. Though you’re not doing the Tour de France, there’s nothing stopping you from doing a long distance biking trip of your own.

    So if the annual Tour de France competition has inspired you to start biking longer distances, consider coming to Ireland for your upcoming long distance biking journey.

    Long Distance Cycling Benefits a la Tour de France

    Tour de France Ireland bike

    Kerry might be one of Ireland’s most popular regions, but the 3 peninsulas of Kerry still have hidden, secret gems once you turn off the main road.

    • The sense of accomplishment you’ll get after finishing a hard day’s cycling over the course of a week is unparalleled! A week or more of cycling is a huge achievement that is great for a self esteem boost and make you feel as if you can do anything.
    • Bragging rights. Not many people can say that they cycled across entire counties, let alone entire nations!
    • Improve your physical and mental stamina. Choosing to cycle for several days in a row takes a lot of determination, and actually accomplishing it takes even more! A multi-day road cycling tour is a great way to work on strengthening that stamina – even channelling it into other parts of your life.
    • Stay in shape. This is the obvious one – but no less important or worthy! You’ll want to be in top condition for your cycling trip, so it’ll motivate you to exercise – and cycle! – often, as well as watch your diet. All of which is great for your health!
    • Explore the backcountry of Ireland at a ‘slower’ pace. Biking across Ireland means you’ll actually get to see – and interact with – the landscapes as well as the people, cultures and wildlife of Ireland. Seeing rural and coastal Ireland from the window of the car just isn’t the same!

    Best Challenging Cycling Trips

    Biking Donegal cliffs to coast

    Not all of the climbs are as impressive as the Mamore Gap in Donegal, but no matter what trip, you’ll have a few climbs.

    The Wild Atlantic Way Bike Trip

    Bike the best of the Wild Atlantic Way on this classic and challenging route from the extreme south to the extreme north. Impossible to sum up all you’ll see, this 12 day trip won’t leave you wanting. From the sunny southwest, through the wild west coast and the laid-back northwest, finishing in the rugged Inishowen Peninsula and Malin Head, this is truly the trip of a lifetime.

    With just a single transfer (to avoid chaotic road conditions around Galway), this trip is ideal for anyone who is looking for a point-to-point challenge and the trip of a lifetime.

    The 5 Countries Trip

    This trip, in which you bike across England, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland, actually starts on the 2014 Grand Depart of the Tour de France – so you can start your 12 day challenging trek through the UK and Ireland feeling like a Tour de France competitor!

    This trip is ideal for anyone who is looking for a proper cycling challenge as well as a varied route.

    Best of the Wild Atlantic Way

    Bike the best of the Wild Atlantic Way.

    Bike the Kerry Peninsulas – Southwest Ireland

    Bike Ireland’s extremes, from the southernmost point – Mizen Head – to the westernmost point – Slea Head on the Dingle Peninsula – while exploring some of Ireland’s most exhilarating routes, such as the Gap of Dunloe, the Conor Pass, and Moll’s Gap across Cork and Kerry. You’ll bike through some of Ireland’s most iconic landscapes, and did we mention that southwest Ireland is known as a foodie hotspot? You’ll be well fuelled at the end of each day’s cycling!

    This seven-day trip is perfect for cyclists looking to explore Ireland’s most iconic and beloved regions, while still sticking to the backroads. You’ll still tick several classic climbs off on this two-wheeled adventure.

    Donegal From Cliffs to Coast – Northwest Ireland

    Remote Donegal has it all – breathtaking landscapes, charming coastal communities, traditional pubs, amazing cliffs (such as that of Slieve League, among Ireland’s highest sea cliffs), stunning fjords, and rugged mountains. Donegal also has some great climbs like the Mamore Gap and the Bluestack Mountains for those looking for a challenge.

    This seven-day trip is perfect for those who want to get off the beaten path and explore a region in-depth while still challenging themselves on some classic cycling routes.

    Biking alongside the beautiful Lough Swilly fjord.

    Related Trips

    Meet the Author: Darragh Devaney

    Joining Wilderness Ireland in 2015, Darragh is our Trip Operations Manager. He's also Wilderness Ireland's resident cycling expert! Darragh has travelled throughout the world - cycling across France, living abroad in South Korea, travelling through Canada and the US, but still prefers cycling in Ireland to anywhere else!

    View profile More by Darragh


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