North Down GP
This weekend will see the cream of Ulster cyclists in action on the Donaghadee – Bangor Coast road when the North Down Grand Prix takes place on Sunday. With backing form North Down Borough Council and local firm Aquatech, a full field is expexcted to compete for the generous £700 prize fund.
This year will see the event return to `home` ground, having been promoted around the hills of Ballygowan and Saintfield for the past few years, but with the local Councils backing, the Club are hoping for an excellent turnout with a chance for our own riders Keiran McKenna and Paul Ferguson to get among the prizes.
The race will cover 8 laps of the 7 mile Hightrees-Springwell Road circuit, finishing at the top of Orlock Hill. Race HQ at Donaghadee Rugby Club. Sign-on will be from 11.30, with the race getting underway at 1pm.
The club are appealing for help with Marshalling, and anyone available should contact Ciaran Andrews.
Paris – Katesbridge: UCI Cat 0.0
Regarded by many as the Queen of the Irish Road racing calendar the West Down G.P. was the centre of attention for the cream of Irish road racing. Such is the prestigious nature of this event that it is restricted to riders fortunate enough to hold a Cat 3 license or be aged 40 or over….
North Down C.C. fielded another strong team consisting of myself – William Barclay, Matthew Blayney, Duane McCreadie, “Skipper” Boyce and Richard McCullough. Capt. Harry Adams was once again at the helm of the good ship “North Down C.C.” as we set sail for our latest adventure. The lashing rain that had woken us that morning soon subsided and by the time we lined up at the start the sun was smiling on us.
It’s always wise to pack an extra energy bar before setting out on this race. Memories of last year’s race when the bunch was bearing down on the finishing line ready for the final sprint – 52 miles on our computers for this 50 mile race – when they surprised everyone by ringing the bell for last lap. Who knew how many extra laps we might have to do this year?
The race started with a “Right boys, off ye go!” so we hastily clipped into our pedals and set off up the road. I noticed at the time that the only female competitor took this command as her start orders also.
It was good to see Duane riding strongly again, having made a speedy recovery from his spectacular accident at the Tre Giorni di Portaferry. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the rider responsible for causing said accident was using the race as his first time out without stabilisers. Unfortunately a puncture at the mid point of the race put paid to any ambitions Duane may have had but fortunately he was able to take a spare wheel and rejoin the race one lap down. Matthew Blayney was also unfortunate suffering cramp in his gluteus maximus preventing him from continuing.
Half way through the first lap however a very dangerous group of four got away. Whilst unable to build a lead of any great significance it was proving difficult to reel them in. Richard tried twice to bridge across whilst Skipper, ever at the front, did the lion’s share of work in trying to pull them back.
Despite these titanic efforts the break stayed away with only one other rider managing to get across to it. After 50 miles of racing it was this break that produced the eventual winner – Jonny Cole.
There was only the bunch sprint to be taken and Duane who had apparently forgotten about his “missing lap” was up there threatening the big guns at the front.
It was another good race for North Down C.C. with thanks to West Down Wheelers for organising such an event with special mention being given to them for the glorious spread laid on afterwards in an inspiring venue.
Belgium Update from Stuart Henry
“I recently took part in the Peter van Petegem tribute race at which was started by the man himself waving a flag, he then followed the race closely in a team car. There were 62 in the race and over 1000 euro prizes. I was on the front all day really chasing primes which was maybe a bit of a mistake in the long run so I’ll learn from that for later but I had really good legs so I wasn’t too worried. I was in breaks all day but with 3 laps to go the Belgian champ and 2 others were chasing the lone leader and I rode across to them, the champ was shouting at us for riding too slowly but he was not working himself and we were not catching the leader, he kept attacking us and eventually he got away and bridged and then attacked the leader. We got caught by a chasing group of 5 with 5k to go and I waited for the sprint, one rider rode away but I didn’t want to chase, but I won the sprint for 4th so was a good enough day, fairly pleased.”
Stuart will return home from Belgium this week with the North Down GP set firmly in his sights.