Bangor Visit for P&O Irish Sea Cycle Race
The 2009 P&O Irish Sea Tour of the North, now just four weeks away, is shaping up to be a truly international affair, with a total of 8 nations represented in this year’s 110 rider field. With riders from England, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Norway on the start list, the event is shaping up to be one of the best in years with four days and five stages of racing to decide the eventual winner.
At the event launch in the Corr’s Corner Hotel, P&O Irish Sea Marketing Executive Edel McMahon commented, `We are delighted with the response the organisers have had for this year’s event. Last year we had riders from Belgium, Holland and France and we are delighted to support this event yet again and bring riders in to race on Northern Ireland’s roads`.
Three times winner and defending champion Ryan Connor was also on hand at the launch and he claimed he was undeterred by the international competition. Connor, the winner in 2004, 2006 and 2008 seems to have an aversion to odd numbers, but will nonetheless be going for a record-breaking fourth win in a month’s time, and having signed for the Dublin based Usher-Irish Road Club, he is relishing the upcoming Easter Challenge. `We have assembled a strong squad for the race, and with a little help from local knowledge I hope to be in Yellow again come Easter Monday,’ remarked the Ahoghill man.
The good news for Bangor residents is that the borough will once again be at the hub of the race on the 3rd stage time trial and the 4th stage which will be a road race. In the past Bangor has been decisive in deciding the final classification and this year should be no exception.
John Moore Memorial Road Race
Last Saturday’s John Moore Memorial Road Race, promoted by Castlereagh CC, was run off in fine but cold, windy conditions. The sixty strong field were dispatched in three groups each separated by four minutes, with both Noel Boyce and Stuart Henry competing in the colours of North Down.
The scratch group managed to bridge the gap to the S2's Vets and Juniors in just over two laps, of the eleven mile circuit, and almost immediately a five man group consisting of Ryan Connor (Usher IRC), John Neil (Phoenix CC), Sean Downey (Banbridge CC), Kirk Sloan (Ards CC) and Martyn Irvine (Team Curran Racing)then jumped away.
Coming to the line, Irvine proved the better sprinter and took the win ahead of Connor, with Downey, recently returned from South Africa, taking third place, despite the fact that he has found it hard to warm up since his return.
The most exciting sprint was between Jonny Cole (Team Madigan) and Stuart Henry (North Down CC). Coming to the line it looked as if Henry who was in the lead would take it but Cole closed fast and on the line there was nothing in it, even the cameras could not sort it out and it was declared a draw.
John Deere Classic
The following day, however, in the first of the Ulster Classic League events, Henry got his revenge and ran out a clear winner in the Junior Category. This was after 55 tough miles in the Donegal Mountains.
The race, which was promoted by the Four Masters CC , truly lived up to its name providing the toughest and most hotly contested race held so far in Ulster this year. After just 10 miles the bunch was blown apart on the climb at Muckish Pass with Simon Williams (Juiced Orchard), Paul Vaughan (Kilcullen CC) and Ryan Conor (Usher IRC) forging ahead. On the descent into Falcarragh they were joined by Adam Armstrong (Curran Racing), Conor McAllister (Ballymena RC), John Neil (Phoenix), Fraser Duncan (Curran Racing) and Belfast's Peter Hawkins competing for the Belgium based Decock-Capino outfit.
In the final sprint Adam Armstrong edged out Peter Hawkins with Ryan Conor taking third place. North Down’s Stuart Henry and Neil McKenna finished 12th and 20th respectively. This was a solid ride by Neil as he had lost several minutes due to a puncture. It was also good to see the talented Paul Ferguson in the prizes as 3rd S2. Paul really has the ability to make things happen. The team were once again indebted to Harry Adams, who not only fulfilled his role as soigneur to perfection but also drove the minibus, looked after their kit and provided much needed encouragement and vocal support.
Flo Millar has organised another of the famous Bokhara Nights on Sunday 29th March, starting at 7:30pm As on previous occasions the cost will be £12.50 for a set mixed starter and your choice of main course This event is open to members and their families and friends. They have proven, over the years, to be relaxed and very enjoyable. If you would like to attend please e-mail Flo with numbers before Monday 23rd March.
In a recent survey of cycling websites, which was carried out by a Belfast based web-design business, North Down Cycling Club’s site was considered to be amongst the best. It was noted that the North Down site: ‘offered excellent information in an easily accessible format.’ Well done webmaster, Keith Millar.
The big race this weekend is the annual Armagh to Downpatrick event. Once again there is a strong North Down squad under the guidance of Harry Adams.
Youth rider, Nathan McLeer had a busy weekend when he attended not only a training camp in Richill but also competed in the first under-age race of the season in Dundalk the following day. The training camp consisted of an endurance spin and a time trial followed by talks on nutrition, preparation and training schedules by Keith Gallagher. Clearly Nathan must have put this to good use as he came 6th in the under sixteen race. The under-age riders have a couple of weeks to hone their training and then they’ll have a hectic schedule of events which will decide who will represent Ireland in this year’s Youth Olympics.