CYCLISTS TAKE ON DUNDROD CHALLENGE
North Down Cycling Club’s racing members will head for the Dundrod circuit of the famous Ulster Grand Prix on Saturday to take part in two cycle races which are being staged as a preliminary attraction before the main business of the day. The plan took shape a few months ago as part of a series of events to raise money for the David McCall Foundation, a charity which aims to raise funds to support minority groups of cyclists. McCall was an international cyclist and Commonwealth games medallist who was killed while cycling two years ago. He had been instrumental in developing a training programme for motor cycle marshals to support road racing and he was an enthusiastic and experienced motor cyclist.
The races, organised by McCall’s old club Maryland Wheelers with the support of Cycling Ulster, Phoenix CC and the organisers of the Ulster Grand Prix, will take place on Saturday morning as a warm up event prior to the motor cycle races. There are two races planned, one for A1 and A2 riders, these men being the top ranked riders in the country, and a race for riders who hold club racing licences. These are competitors who participate in short races organised by their own clubs as part of an annual programme of events but who do not take part in open races.
Competitors will register from 8.30am at the Lamh Dearg GAA club, the race entry fee of £10 going straight to the Foundation. From there an escort will take them to the racing circuit. Both races will consist of two laps of the seven mile circuit, with the main race moving off at 9.30, a few minutes before the club racers. Generous prize money is on offer for both races along with team prizes.
North Down Cycling Club has persuaded a motley crew of club racers to take up the challenge, including club chairman Ian Blayney who is hoping to get a squad of about twenty to represent the club. The North Down team will be no strangers to closed circuit racing with the club holding regular races at Kirkistown but the Dundrod circuit’s undulating roads will provide a stiffer challenge. Nevertheless, with former Northern Ireland road race champion Michael Hamilton leading the squad, there is quiet optimism about the eventual outcome.
Unfortunately there is no race for A3 and A4 riders at Dundrod on Saturday, there being a clash with the West Down GP which is aimed at the aforesaid categories. The West Down race is over 50 miles and racing starts at 11am.
Last weekend’s big race was the Tour of Armagh classic which was won by Eurocycles rider Paul Mulligan. The race boasted a strong entry and it soon fragmented with small groups getting away from the main field and it was in the main bunch that North Down’s two riders, Richard McCullough and Mark Irvine, finished. Meanwhile, a sizeable group of club riders completed the 75 mile Lap of the Lough in support of disabled sport. Pre-event intentions of a steady touring ride soon disintegrated and the group completed the event at an average speed of 20mph.
Last week’s club race was a ten mile time trial and once again it was well supported with thirty riders taking on the clock on an overcast, breezy night. Fastest man on the night was Stuart Henry, back after his first year at Chester University and showing the benefits of a year in which he followed up a winter competing in the Manchester track league with some hard racing as a member of the Herbalife/Wheelbase road team. Stuart’s winning time was an impressive 22min 51secs. The top ten finishers were as follows;
1. S. Henry 22.51
2. R. Millar (Bikeworks) 23.11
3. R. Blayney 23.19
4. P. Swenarton 23.44
5. N. McLeer (Curran) 23.49
6. D. McMackin 23.53
7. M. Blayney 24.18
8. P. Dorman 24.35
9. S. Farren 25.29
10. N. Munnis 25.44
This week’s club event was a hill climb on Ballyregan Road, Dundonald. Results will follow next week.