16 March 2010

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The current cycling race season is only three weeks old but already North Down Cycling Club has two new names to add to its roster of successful riders following the P J Logan Cup races at Coalisland last Sunday. The encouraging aspect of these performances is that both riders, Rachel Mitchell and Mark Irvine are both only 19 years old.


Rachel Mitchell is not a stranger to the winner’s podium, having had a series of wins in the last few years as a track cyclist. In fact in 2009 she set new national records as a junior in the Irish championships but although Rachel has trained on the road she has only recently embarked on a road racing programme as a senior. Cycling Ulster is working hard to promote races for women and there have been regular turnouts of over 20 riders at early season races. As a relative novice on the road racing scene, Rachel could have picked a more friendly course than the Coalisland promotion with its demanding, hilly roads. The race was split into two groups with Rachel in the limit group. The more experienced riders in the scratch group would normally have been confident of reeling in the limit group but the group rode with great determination and at the end an early, uphill sprint for the line looked as though it might backfire but Rachel hung on to take the victory ahead of Lisa Mann (Roe Valley) .


In the B race for A4 riders at the same Coalisland meeting Mark Irvine got away in a three man break and rode strongly to take second place, registering his first podium place after only three weekends of road racing. He was joined in this race by Duane McCreadie who had picked up points last week after his fourth place at the John Haldane Memorial race at Newry. It was suggested in this column last week that the flat Newry course suited the sprinters and that young Irvine would perform better on a hillier course and that was exactly how it turned out, with McCreadie finishing in the bunch and Irvine demonstrating his climbing ability when the road turns upwards. Finbar Cummins of Phoenix had broken away early on in the race but young Irvine, showing a cool head and a highly competitive streak, bided his time before attacking to bridge the gap, along with William Larmour of East Antrim. These three managed to stay away until the final run in and it was Larmour who took the win ahead of Irvine. .

After the last two races Irvine and McCreadie have accumulated points and with a mere 10 points needed to move up to A3 category it is surely only a matter of time before both men get promotion. .


In the A race, the P J Logan Cup, North Down fielded three riders, Paul Ferguson, Noel Boyce and Richard McCullough. This was a handicapped event with Ferguson, in the scratch group, having to make up 6 minutes on the two larger limit groups. Unlike the previous week when the scratch group were effectively handicapped out of it, the race came together with a couple of laps to go and at the end it was Glen Kinning (Audi-East Antrim) who got the win. Ferguson came in 14th and Boyce was 20th, with McCullough riding in safely in the bunch. .


This coming weekend offers another double bill. On Saturday the Ciclisport GP takes place, courtesy of East Tyrone. The race headquarters is at the CNC factory on the road between Coagh and Loup, the B181. Signing on will be from 10.45 and racing for seniors is at 12 noon. Two races are on offer, a B race of 75 kms for A4 riders and an A race of 90 kms for other categories. Riders in the B race are being offered the use of transponders that will attach to the front forks and enable the officials to produce an electronic record of each rider’s finishing time. .

Sunday’s action moves to Donegal for the John Deere Classic, the first race in the Irish Classics series. The race is only open to A1 and A2 riders and will cover 120kms of challenging terrain. The start is at Termon, 9 miles north of Letterkenny and the race rolls out at 12 noon. Riders can register from 10.30am on the day with an entry fee of 15 Euro. Race organisers, Four Masters CC, will provide neutral service for spare wheels and a broom wagon. .


With the Easter weekend less than three weeks away attention among Ulster cyclists will increasingly focus on the 2010 Tour of the North. This year a composite team of local riders will compete following the organisers’ decision to accept entries from teams of five only. North Down CC’s Paul Ferguson, Ross Blayney and Matty Blayney will be joined by Bangor rider Liam Curran and Newtownards man Lennie Kirk. Details of this year’s route and rider profiles will appear in this column as the event approaches. .


The seminar on weight management, postponed last week, will take place this Friday, 19th March in the clubrooms, starting at 7.30pm. The seminar will be conducted by North Down member Darren McWilliams, a qualified sports scientist specialising in sports nutrition. The presentation will last about 45 minutes and will be followed by a question and answer session. Cycling is a sport where unnecessary body mass can be a major hindrance, especially if competing on hilly or mountainous roads, so Darren will be offering sound advice on how to keep body weight within acceptable limits without sacrificing the key ingredients required to maintain adequate energy levels. .


North Down’s chairman Ian Blayney has announced the first social event of the current season, a table quiz. Scheduled for April 15th the quiz will also help to raise a few pounds for club funds. The venue will be Pickie Bowling Club in Broadway and a light supper will be provided for all participants. Teams should contain no more than 6 people and the entry fee is only £5 per person. Quiz master will be Harry Adams who wishes it to be known that prospective competitors hoping for specialist rounds or even single questions on TV soaps or celebrity gossip will be seriously disappointed. Anyone intending to organise a team or participate should contact Ian Blayney. .

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