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Mini Tour de France aims to increase its profile 24 January 2006

    Plans have been announced to raise the profile of the three day youth cycling stage race due to be held in the Island at the end of April. An extra category has been added and the organisers are attending high profile events in the UK for marketing purposes.

    Race Director Oliver Last explained: ‘It’s like a mini Tour de France with the leader’s jersey, the green jersey for the points leader, winners of the individual events and a special prize for the overall champion.

    ‘This will be the third year the tour has been held and my aim is to raise its status even higher to make it one of the best events of its kind in the UK. Last year we had about sixty competitors from the UK, together with the Manx riders, and this time we hope to have a continental flavour as well with interest having been received so far from Holland and Norway.’

    Previously there were categories for under 16s, under 14s and a combined under 12 and 10 section. Now, an under 18 division has been added to swell the numbers even further.

    The Isle of Man Youth and Junior Tour gets underway on Friday April 28 with a Prologue on Douglas Promenade, followed the next day by a road race over a course in the Ellerslie area. Final event is a circuit race at the National Sports Centre on the Sunday morning with the prize presentation taking place in the evening at the Claremont Hotel. Race headquarters for the weekend is the Chesterhouse Hotel on Loch Promenade.

    Major sponsorship from Sleepwell Hotels, together with further assistance from Clerical Medical and the Isle of Man Department of Tourism has enabled the tour to have an enhanced presence. Total prize fund is £1,400.

    Said Mr.Last: ‘We have initiated a totally different marketing approach this year and decided to be present at some of the international Revolution events at the Manchester Velodrome. These are attended by the stars of the future and the Department of Tourism trade stand was used to publicise our tour and get the message over to the young riders that ours is one of the events not to be missed.’

    The tour is organised by Manx Cycling Promotions, under the auspices of the Isle of Man Cycling Association. Aim is to increase the entry each year with the ultimate ambition of achieving the maximum field of 45 competitors in each of the four categories.

    Tourism Minister David Cretney said: ‘I fully support the organisers in their attempts to raise the profile. Riders such as Mark Cavendish have put the Island on the sporting map as far as our standard of competition is concerned and the youth tour provides us with an opportunity to show the Island can promote a major international event such as this.

    ‘The Isle of Man lends itself to a cycling tour because of the different types of terrain available. The Ellerslie course will provide a test of the riders’ hill climbing ability whereas Douglas promenade is ideally suited to the prologue with the NSC coming into its own for the circuit race.

    ‘Another attraction is the fact that the Ellerslie race will be on closed roads. Youths are not allowed to compete on open roads in the UK and there is no provision to close them so it will be a unique occasion for many of the riders to come here and compete on an actual road race course.’

    • Further information is available from the event website on www.youthtour.co.uk

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