McCREADIE SPRINTS FOR NORTH DOWN’S SECOND WIN
The roads west of the Bann are proving to be a happy hunting ground for North Down Cycling Club’s racing team. Two weeks ago at Coalisland Rachel Mitchell took her first road win and Mark Irvine claimed second place in the B race. Last Saturday’s race, promoted by East Tyrone on a rolling course near Moneymore brought Duane McCreadie his first win since his days as a very successful schoolboy mountain biker. Pre-race talk was that the route would suit Mark Irvine more than Duane but the large bunch of A4 riders stayed largely intact and McCreadie, having positioned himself perfectly in the run in to the line, timed his effort to perfection; not an easy task given that the road rose sharply over the final 100 metres. Behind Duane, Mark Irvine finished well inside the front half of the bunch.
This result puts McCreadie and Irvine both within striking distance of an upgrade to A3 status. McCreadie now has nine points and he requires only one point to be promoted and he will hit this target if he finishes 6th or higher in his next race. Young Irvine may have to wait a bit longer as he leaves this week on a family holiday. .
In the main race several North Down regulars were unavailable and it was left to Noel Boyce to enter the fray as sole rider from the club. The race was handicapped but a glance at the quality of the A2 and scratch riders suggested Boyce was going to have a hard day. The scratch group made contact with the limit group with two laps to go and as the tempo increased a split developed and, to the delight of the North Down supporters, Boyce made the cut and joined the breakaway. Unfortunately, with about three miles to go he and several others began to lose contact and at the end the race came down to a sprint which was won by Roger Aikin (Planet X) who managed to squeeze ahead of rising star Jack Wilson (East Antrim). Boyce soloed in to take14th place, well ahead of several scratch riders. Bangor man Liam Curran ( Curran Racing) continued his run of good form by coming fifth. .
Excellent as these performances were, the real heroes on Saturday were old hands Tom Henry and Norman McLeer who surprised everyone, including themselves , by cycling to and from the race, a return journey of well over 100 miles. I expect they are probably still recovering. .
The coming weekend’s racing comes to North Down’s doorstep on Saturday with the annual Tour of the Ards, promoted by Ards CC. The 60 mile circuit is essentially a clockwise lap of the Ards peninsula, finishing on the Portaferry Road adjacent to the Flying Club. The race will have a controlled roll out at 12noon and at the time of writing no list of riders has been published. The delay is due to the restrictions on the number of participants and the organisers are having to apply selection criteria to whittle the large entry down to 66 riders. .
These restrictions caused problems last year and that led North Down Cycling Club to decide to travel to a few races across the border where no such restrictions apply. The first of these cross-border trips will take place on Sunday when the club will travel to Balbriggan where there will be a full programme of races for all categories. The main race is the McKenna Memorial run over 114kms and the supporting race, the Jazzer Wherrity will provide races for . lower categories. The racing starts at 11am and prospective riders will be contacted by club email. .
North Down’s Stuart Henry, currently studying at Chester University, is one of five young Ulster riders to have been selected to ride for Ireland in the Halford’s UK Tour series of road races. Henry has been performing well at the midweek track league in the Manchester velodrome and while in Britain he has linked up with the Herbalife-Wheelbase team for whom he will be riding in the upcoming Tour of the North. The UK Tour series consists of 10 races in cities in the UK and Ireland. Belfast will host one of the races in June and it will give the Irish lads, several of whom have just emerged from the junior ranks, an opportunity to pit themselves against the best road talent in Britain. .
Your correspondent apologises for this heading, it being a rather clumsy attempt to link two eagerly anticipated events in North Down’s spring calendar, namely, the trip to Majorca and the club’s quiz night, both scheduled for next month. Many of this year’s Majorca group are first time participants and trip organiser Philip Downie has suggested that the club quiz, which will be in Pickie Bowling Club on April 15th, would provide an excellent opportunity for all travellers to get acquainted. Tickets are still available and cost £5. Supper will be included, courtesy of club member Mark Brooks, proprietor of Bow Bells in Donaghadee. .