Toyota North Down’s squad of 5 youngsters travelled to Lurgan at the weekend for the All Ireland Youth Championships, held over three stages on two days. In the Under 16 event the club fielded Mike Mitchell and Andrew Hedley, in the Under 14s Stuart Henry and Gareth Boyle, with Rachel Mitchell the only female representative, riding in the Under 13 age-group.
Star of the show was Stuart Henry, already an All Ireland winner this year, taking Time Trial Gold at Monaghan back in May. The event featured a Time Trial and Circuit Road Race in Lurgan Park, both on Saturday, followed by an open road stage on Sunday. Stuart was hot favourite for the Time Trial leg, and sure enough he stormed round the two mile park circuit in 3min 8 secs, 3 seconds ahead of his nearest rival. As the whole event was based on points, times were not important as placings mattered and Stuart`s main rival, Peter Williams from Armagh, was back in 7th spot, giving Stuart a healthy lead.
In the afternoon Criterium stage it was also a close fought affair, with all the main contenders together at the finish, and Williams taking the sprint. Stuart stayed in contention, finishing in 6th place.
There was still all to play for in the final stage, held in damp, greasy conditions, a sharp contrast to Saturday’s glorious sunshine. Stuart held a two point lead over Williams and with 100, 97, 95, 93, 92 and 91 points for the top 6 on each stage he had to finish in front of his Orchard Wheeler rival to be sure of the Gold medal. He was straight away in to the action, forging clear with three other riders on lap one. Some of the field were held up by a crash, but Williams,along with contenders Clifford Blayney (Ards) and Jonny Beers (XMTB) later made contact leaving a 6 man group at the front. The scene was all set for a group sprint and in the crucial 400 metre dash out of the final corner it was oh-so close, with three riders opening a slight gap. Henry, Williams and Killorglin rider, Sean Doona, were neck in neck heading for the line. In the end it was a photo for first, between Williams and Doona, with the latter getting the verdict by the narrowest of margins. Stuart finished 3rd, and it was down to the officials to add up the points. It quickly became apparent that the two lads, Henry and Williams, were tied on 287 points. Having consulted the rule book, the race announcer declared that the count back would apply based on stage finishings. Both had a stage win, but Williams took the verdict by virtue of a second, with Stuarts next best result being a third.
Both riders were deserving of recognition for their efforts, and a Silver to add to his Time Trial Gold is a fantastic finish to Stuart’s season and must fill him with confidence for next year, when he moves in to the Under 16 ranks.
Special mention should go to Donaghadee’s Gareth Boyle who, since returning from the Kerry International Youth Tour, has come on in leaps and bounds. At the weekend he finished 27th in the Time Trial, his weakest discipline, but in the two bunch stages he was mixing it with the favourites, at times hitting the front on the narrow parkland circuit in Lurgan. He finished 19th in the Criterium, and 13th in the final stage to give him a final overall position of 20th, a top result in his first year of serious competition.
Toyota North Down’s top Girl, Rachel Mitchell, was competing in the Under 13 category, a move up in gearing and distance for the first time. Normally girls ride an age category down, so she races in the Under 12s, however as the Championships are split into single year age groups, as a 14 year old a category down put in with the Under 13s, mostly consisting of boys. This necessitated a change in bike setup to allow for higher gearing and a 15 mile final stage, much longer than she was used to.
Undaunted, she took 12th place in the opening Time Trial and was 3rd Girl. In the afternoon Criterium she was again 12th. On Sunday’s final stage she was in the thick of the action from the start, despite the event being five miles longer than she was used to. Showing great determination she worked hard throughout the stage, battling wind, rain and male counterparts who would not contribute to the work on the front of the bunch. Bray Wheeler Ben Dowling won the stage and competition, but Rachel won the bunch sprint for 10th place, ending the competition in 12th place and 3rd girl. XMTBs Jessica Laird finished 12th on the final stage, ending up 9th overall. The two girls’ complaint after the stage was not about the distance, nor the wet conditions, but the lazy boys in the bunch who contributed nothing to chasing the leaders.The old fashioned social etiquette, `after you girls,’ may still apply when passing through a doorway but the girls on this occasion would have welcomed a bit of male assertiveness.
Mike Mitchell and Andrew Hedly were TND’s representatives in the Under 16 series. Mike has had a quieter season than last, with priority being given to working for his GCSEs this summer. The Time Trial, normally Mike’s best discipline, saw him once again pull his foot out of the pedal on the start ramp, a repeat of his slip at Kerry. Losing precious seconds, he got going again to finish in 3.01. good enough for 8th place. The Criterium was a fast and furious affair, with no one able to open a significant gap. The 3 riders who competed in the Youth Olympics for Ireland, Denis Dunworth, William Connolly and Jeff O`Hanrahan,along with Lurgan’s Thomas Martin, who formed the Ireland quartet for the Kerry event, were the 4 favourites, with Dunworth taking the time trial. XMTBs Andrew Hunter stormed through on the line to take the Criterium stage, with Mitchell 11th, leaving him in 8th place overall, one point and place off Thomas Martin.
The final road stage was held in the wettest conditions off all, with Lurgan lad Thomas Martin, benefitting from local circuit knowledge, taking off along with Pat Ahern and event leader Dunworth to forge a useful lead out front. Hunter was the big loser, getting caught up in a crash involving 6 riders, and unable to regain contact at the front.
Martin took the stage, with Dunworth in 3rd doing enough to take the Gold Medal. Mike led the sprint for 7th place, narrowly missing out to Emyvale rival Michael McAree. In the final points table, Mitchell tied for 8th place, but on count-back this was moved to 9th overall, 3rd in the Northern Ireland contingent. Andrew Hedley enjoyed the experience of riding in a big group, ending up a creditable 16th overall, with his best placing coming in the final stage where he was 16th.
All in all the TND youngsters did the club proud, with another All Ireland medal, making it three for the Club this year, and all the riders should be congratulated on their season’s achievements.
This Saturday sees Track racing at Orangefield ,weather permitting. Ulster Championship events are planned for all categories, Youth through to Senior. Signing on is at 11am, with racing planned for Noon. Anthony Mitchell will be taking the minibus, anyone interested should contact him on 07843 561 084.
Last weekend’s Inishowen 100 mile challenge was the victim of wet weather and although there is no touring run this weekend the September calendar is busy. The annual Marie Curie Cancer run in Downpatrick is on Saturday 11th September and, weather permitting, the usual arrangements will apply with riders leaving the clubrooms at 9am, cycling to Downpatrick to complete the 30 mile run, then riding back to Bangor to give a total distance of around 90 miles.
Sunday 11th September sees another Leisure ride on the busy schedule. The Make a Wish foundation, under the Wish Peddlers banner have been running annual events on the mainland for 11 years. This is the first year it will be held in Northern Ireland, with 3 distances, including a 60 miler, planned. Registration will be at Cutters’ Wharf car park at Stranmillis from 9.30am. A Peddlers’ Picnic and barbecue with family entertainment will be held in in Lady Dixon park. A donation
of £10 is requested, with a commemorative T-Shirt, Certificate and Hot Dog for all competitors.
Monday night’s club event had to be cancelled because of roadworks and temporary traffic lights on the Groomsport by-pass at the junction with Springwell Road. Next week’s event is a 5 mile time trial which begins at the top of Orlock at 7pm, subject to the road being clear of obstructions.
The highly successful Wednesday night run for leisure cyclists is now being affected by fading light and the final run of the year will be on August 31st. The club would like to encourage these riders to continue through the winter and to that end a Saturday morning run of 35 or 40 miles will be available, leaving the TND clubrooms at 9am. Some of the Wednesday group have successfully completed the 40 mile Sunday run which leaves the clubrooms at 10am and which takes in some minor hills on the way down to a coffee stop at Castle Espie.
16th August 2005
Three of Toyota North Down’s Youth Squad, the mainstay of racing TND membership this season, travelled to Orangefield last Saturday as part of the Ulster squad for the final round in the Inter Provincial Youth Track Series. Going in to the final round Ulster held the lead in the 3-round series ahead of Leinster.
Under 14 All Ireland Time Trial Champion Stuart Henry was star of the Under 14 ranks, placing second in the 1-lap Time Trial, 4th in the sprint and winning the scratch event to rack up some good points for the Ulster team. Rachel Mitchell, having her first ride on the 396 metre banked oval, was on top form finishing runner up to East Antrim’s Jack Wilson in the Time Trial and winning both the sprint and scratch events. Mike Mitchell was up against tough opposition in the hotly contested Under 16 ranks and he posted 10th in the Time Trial and 5th in the sprint event. With TND youngsters scoring most of the Ulster points, along with Johnny Beers – U14(XMTB) who posted the outright fastest Time Trial time, and Sean Downey – U16(Banbridge), Ulster sealed the series, finishing on 167 points to Leinster’s 85. Munster took Bronze on 82 with Connacht last on 43.
These performances come in a long line of placings for the youth squad trio who, along with Gareth Boyle and Andrew Hedley will be representing the club again at the weekend in the 2-day All Ireland Youth Championships at Lurgan.
Taking the format of a 3-stage points series, the All Ireland’s get underway on Saturday morning with a Time Trial in Lurgan
Park, followed by a circuit race around the perimeter in the afternoon. Sunday sees the youngsters on the open roads, with a road race around the Blue Stone circuit, used last week where Stuart Henry simply rode away from the opposition. He is odds-on for a medal at the weekend, hopefully another Gold to add to the Time Trial title won back in May.
With the end of the racing season fast approaching, many riders have already `hung up their wheels` for the winter months. Entries are already dwindling, as riders call it a day on the 2005 season.The inaugural Northern Ireland Circuit Time Trial championships, listed for next weekend (27th) has been cancelled.
Also, due to the drop in numbers, and the fact that no other club seems willing to promote events through September, TND has taken the decision to cancel the Tour of the Peninsula road race, scheduled for September 10th. With no other road race in the North between now and then, it was deemed unsuitable to continue with plans for the event, which will be looking for a more prestigious date for 2006.
With an upsurge in interest in track racing, it is hoped that the NICF and Cycling Ulster will be arranging some track sessions in the coming weeks, to fill in the blanks in the calendar. Weather permitting, there should be some midweek evening and Saturday sessions coming up for those wishing to tackle the feared oval banking at Orangefield. Ulster track coach,Brian Nugent, has worked hard to develop young talent for the track and useful funding from the Northern Ireland Sports Council has enabled squads of young riders to experience the world class facilities at the Manchester velodrome. There, the indoor track allow riders to train and compete all year round, hence the elevation of Britain’s track riders to world class standard, the team regularly winning medals at Olympic and World Championship level. Irish riders have a lot of ground to make up before they reach a similar standard but the current policy of providing regular coaching and racing for young riders is clearly the right one but it is equally clear that existing track facilities, all of which are outdoor, are substandard. Britain is about to get its third major indoor velodrome as London prepares for the 2012 Olympic Games. As yet, there are no definite proposals for an indoor track anywhere in Ireland. Finance is obviously a major consideration but a bold initiative is called for if track racing is to develop to the same extent as road racing where young Irish riders have access to a year round base in Belgium, in the heart of European cycling, providing them with regular top class racing and a launching pad for elevation to the professional ranks.
One of Toyota North Down’s top veterans, Declan McMackin, is off to Austria this weekend to take part in the World Veterans Championships in St Johan. He will be lining up alongside another local rider, Irish veteran road race champion in 2004, Lennie Kirk, in the Time Trial and Road Race events. Flo Millar is also participating in the Ladies Championships, riding the 40km Time Trial. She had hoped to be part of a husband and wife duo taking part in the event, but husband Keith has pulled a muscle in his calf, relegating him to the role of team manager for the trip.
McMackin had hoped to sharpen up at last Monday evenings club event, a two stage time trial, consisting of a four and a half mile circuit time trial and a short down the hill and up sprint but when some light drizzle threatened he decided not to risk it, thus leaving it to Paul Ferguson to take the glory once again in this event. Fortunately the roads stayed dry and on a calm evening a number of riders achieved personal bests.
Ferguson had held the club record for the 0.85 mile down and up sprint, setting a mark of 1min.52secs. earlier this season but on Monday he destroyed the record, clocking 1.48. A sub two minute ride is reckoned to be a hard target to achieve but on the night there were two others who broke the 2 minute barrier. Anthony Mitchell and Stephen Bingham hit personal bests and three others got to within 5 seconds of the 2 minute mark. Glen Jordan was making his debut in a club event this year, having taken a long time to recover from a shoulder injury sustained in an early season fall. Glen is a track specialist, having ridden in the World Masters championships in Manchester. Another newcomer was 14 year old Graham Price who was taking part in his first competitive event. He acquitted himself well and we hope to see him back on a regular basis for the remainder of the season. All his times will give him targets to aim at next season and motivate him to keep training over the winter. The full results are as follows;
1.P Ferguson 12.11
2.S Bingham 12.29
3.A Mitchell 12.36
4.N Wilson 12.55
5.M Mitchell 12.59
6.G Swenarton 13.10
7.G Jordan 14.27
8.H Leinster 14.34
9.G Boyle 14.45
10.R. Mitchell 15.43
11. G Price 16.53
This Sunday’s cyclosportive event is the Inishowen 100, a picturesque but at times very demanding circuit of the Inishowen peninsula in Donegal. The run goes over the infamous Mamore Gap, said to be one of the steepest public roads in Ireland, and starts from the Templemore Sports complex at 8.30am. Registration is £20 and this includes lunch en route and a commemorative T shirt. No arrangements have been made yet for overnight accommodation and transport but anyone wishing to go should contact Harry Adams.
Next Monday’s club
event is a 10 mile time trial, setting off from Dixon Road at 7pm.