- Cycling Ireland
Sport Cycle racing Formation date 1987 Affiliation UCI Regional affiliation UEC Official website www.cyclingireland.ie
Cycling Ireland (Irish: Rothaíocht Éireann) or CI is the national governing body of cycle racing in Ireland. CI is a member of the UCI and the UEC. There are four provincial associations: Cycling Connacht, Cycling Leinster, Cycling Munster and Cycling Ulster.
The governance of Cycling in Ireland has been profoundly affected by the country's turbulent history, particularly in the post partition era.
In 1878, cycling in Ireland was administered by the Irish Cycling Association (ICA). In 1884 the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was formed to preserve native pastimes and open sport up to the working class, and cycling began to feature at GAA meetings. The was ICA composed mainly of Unionists and moderate nationalists from urban areas, whereas the GAA cyclists were mostly from rural areas and tended to hold strong nationalist views. Conflict arose between the two rival groups.
Ireland was partitioned in 1921 and the Irish free state was established. The National Athletic and Cycling Association of Ireland (NACA or NACAI) was formed to administer cycling and athletics, retaining strong links with the GAA. The new body suffered disputes between its central council representatives from Northern Ireland and those from the south.
In 1937, administration of cycling was given to the National Cycling Association (NCA), also an all-Ireland organisation like the GAA. In 1947 the world governing sport of cycling, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), decreed that the NCA should confine its area of jurisdiction to the 26 counties of what was now the Republic of Ireland. The NCA refused and as a result was expelled from the UCI. Within Northern Ireland, cyclists were divided between the two bodies largely according to their social and political affiliations.
In 1949, several Irish cycling clubs broke away from the NCA and form a cycling governing body that would restrict its area of jurisdiction to the Republic, Cumann Rothaiochta na hEireann (CRE). In the same year, a breakaway group in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Cycling Federation, successfully applied for official recognition to the UCI and also formed an association with the British Cycling Federation.
In 1955, participation at international events had become a grievance of the nationalists. At the world amateur championships, an unofficial NCA team tried to line up alongside the official (CRE/NICF) Irish team, leading to fighting.
CRE changed its name to the Irish Cycling Federation (ICF) in 1967. NACA remained in existence, and its cycling branch, the NCA, continued to organise cycling north and south of the border, as well as continuing its association with the GAA. Since there were now two official national governing bodies north and south of the border, the two bodies cooperated to enter all-Ireland teams in international competitions.
In 1972 the ICF sent a team to represent the Republic of Ireland to the Munich Olympics. The NCA sent a squad selected from the entire 32 counties who end up attacking some of the members of the ICF team during the road race.
In 1979 the Irish Cycling Tripartite Committee (ICTC) was set up between the ICF, NCA, and NICF as a forum within which differences between the associations could be worked out and joint racing ventures organised. The Northern Ireland Cycling Federation (NICF) continued to affiliate to the world body (now the International Amateur Cycling Federation or FIAC) as an independent entity and to pay its own fees.
Regulations enacted in 1986 stated that only one fee will be accepted from each designated nation, and the NICF's fee was hence rejected, with Irish affiliation to the FIAC passing to the ICTC. This led to proposals for amalgamation of the three governing bodies. This proved acceptable to both the ICF and the NCA, but caused a split within the NICF. A vote to accept the merger was challenged in the High Court where it was overturned.
In 1987 the Irish Cycling Tripartite Committee formed the Federation of Irish Cyclists (FIC). NICF members who supported the change (nearly 75% of members, and 70% of the clubs) formed a new body, the Ulster Cycling Federation (UCF), which affiliated to the FIC, which was then admitted to the FIAC in September 1988 as the sole governing body for Ireland. In Northern Ireland, cycling continued to be split between two groups. Funding from the Sports Council for Northern Ireland was channeled to the officially recognised UCF, whereas Unionist local councils chose to support the NICF, again illustrating how sport can become bound up in Northern Ireland's political conflict. NICF members felt that, as British citizens, they were entitled to join the BCF. However, for several years the UCI blocked this, stating that the NICF riders should take licences from the FIC.
In 1992, the UCI relented and permitted NICF members to race under BCF licences. However, the NICF was not permitted to take any fuller part in the BCF, and has to occupy a semi-detached status. The UCI unsuccessfully attempted to further reconcile the NICF and the FIC.
In 1995 the annual meeting of the BCF granted the NICF the same status as regional governing bodies in Scotland and Wales, and in 2001 the BCF placed the Tour of the North, an Ulster-based race, on its Premier Calendar. This proved too much for the UCI, which resolved at its 2002 congress in Zolder to restrict the actions of the BCF and NICF in Northern Ireland, and to restate that the FIC is the sole body for cycling in the entire island. An agreement to implement this arrangement was reached in 2004 with British Cycling (the new name for the BCF) and Cycling Ireland (the new name for the ICF).
In 2006 the NICF held a special general meeting to amalgamate with Cycling Ulster in 2007. All NICF clubs would switch affiliation from British Cycling to Cycling Ireland. Cycling Ireland members would still be able to opt for their preferred nationality on the licence, preserving political and cultural identities.
Cycling Ireland governs the sport on a provincial basis, with four sub bodies affiliating to the national body. These are Cycling Ulster, Cycling Leinster, Cycling Connacht, and Cycling Munster.
Field of Influence
Cycling Ireland administers road racing, track racing, off-road or MTB racing, time trialling, and is involved in the promotion of leisure cycling events.
Current Development Program
Two of professional cycling's top riders in the 1980s, Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche, have had a profound effect on Irish cycling. Cycling Ireland's headquarters is called Kelly Roche House in their honour.
In 2005, Cycling Ireland opened the Sean Kelly Cycling Academy, a facility in Merchtem, Belgium as a base for Irish cyclists on the continent where they can gain experience of racing at a much higher standard than in they would in Ireland. It gives Irish riders access to UCI ranked events where they compete against elite professional riders. This facility was partly funded by the Irish Sports Council.
Sean Kelly remains involved in the promotion of Irish cycling by working in the management of the new Irish continental team, the An Post–M Donnelly–Grant Thornton–Sean Kelly Team.
- ^ Tom Daly (2003). The Rás – The Story Of Ireland’s Unique Bike Race. The Collins Press. ISBN 1-903464-37-4.
- ^ "Sean Kelly Racing Team: Irish legend backs new continental team". http://autobus.cyclingnews.com/features/?id=2006/sean_kelly_launch. Retrieved 2008-05-01.
- ^ "Cycling News - New look Irish continental team launched in Dublin". http://autobus.cyclingnews.com/features.php?id=features/2007/murphygunn. Retrieved 2008-04-25.
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