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PREVIEW: Curadmir Ulster Cycle 2014

by Nick Gregory

With incredible scenery and unforgiving terrain, Ulster is set to be a fitting host to one of the world's most iconic cycling races, the Giro d'Italia.  From 24th-26th May, riders of the Curadmir multi-stage sportive will reclaim the province's roads following the Giro Grande Partenza. 

Ulster has staged some of the greatest battles in the history of Ancient Eire. Of these, perhaps the most epic are those involving the fight for the Champions Portion - the Curadmir ('kor-a-meer'.) At the ceremonial feasts only those warriors who displayed extraordinary courage were awarded the largest cut of meat at the table. There was no greater a prize for a mortal to receive, and these warriors were held up above the rest as the bravest in battle and forever immortalised in legend. 

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Covering 360 miles in three days, Curadmir is not for the faint hearted. The aim is simple - complete the event. This should be made easier thanks to the world-class rolling rider village which features mechanics, post-ride massage facilities, premium all you can eat catering, high pressure hot showers with fresh towels, live music and comfortable accommodation. 

All that those lucky enough to get a place on Curadmir will need to bring is their bike, kit and sleeping bag. Riding on the same roads as the Grand Tour pros, participants will truly experience three days in the life of a professional cyclist. 

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Stage one features the most climbing of the three days, but outstanding views of the Irish Sea and the beautiful Causeway coast should ease the pain. An initial 700m climb in the Mourne Mountains will set the tone of Curadmir. From Larne to Cushendall riders can comfort themselves with the knowledge that the world's best will have struggled on the same stretches of tarmac just days before. The spectacular scenery and challenging terrain of stage one will certainly warm the legs and prepare riders for what is to come. 

Day two will see riders cross both land and sea. The short steep climbs of Antrim Spikes will be an early test, but it will be important to save energy on what will be the first of several testing climbs. Passing iconic landmarks such as The Giants Causeway, Duncluce Castle and Mushmills Distillery, there will be a brief stop as the ferry crosses Lough Foyle. The ferry trip will provide some much needed respite as Shilling Hill awaits riders as they roll back onto solid ground. With a maximum gradient of 10%, Shilling Hill is one of the most unspoilt parts of Ireland, and riders will truly be at the mercy of the elements. However, the final climb of the day still awaits, and it will prove the most challenging yet. The Gap of Mamore boasts gradients of up to 27% on its iconic hairpin bends, and with 120 miles already in the legs it will require serious mental and physical strength to reach the summit. 

The last day of Curadmir may be the shortest at 106 miles, but riders will still have plenty of short sharp ascents to tackle. From leaving Buncrana, riders will round Letterkenny and enter the majestic Glenveagh National Park en route to Meenchullin and Meenagarranroe. The epic journey finally concludes with a hill-top finish overlooking the breath taking Lough Erne.

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Entry is open now. Prices start from £475 for individuals, with single stage options and bespoke packages also available for teams.

Visit www.curadmir.com for further information.





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