North Down Rides Take Podium Places Again!
A euphoric Harry Adams announced after the Armagh to Downpatrick Classic, last weekend, that it was ‘… a super day … and EVERYONE (in North Down Cycling Club) is to be congratulated for their contribution. To have two club riders finish ahead of all of the Ulster team and most of the Leinster riders was a terrific performance.’ The North Down club president went on to state that: ‘Six podium places- 3 wins, 2 seconds and 1 third (shared by four different riders) with 4 other top 10 placings and this and is only three weeks into the season!’
Harry’s words encapsulate the feelings of many in the cycling fraternity. On Sunday it was Sam Craig and Paul Ferguson who stole the headlines in a race which averaged 27 mph over the 50 plus miles and which included two climbs.
A small break, which included last year’s winner, Peter Wilson (Maryland Wheelers), Gavin Callaghan (Cycling Ulster) and Aaron Buggle (Leinster) built up a substantial lead over an eleven man chasing group. With five miles to go, Buggle attacked and used his advantage to solo home almost 1 minute in front of the bunch.
Behind him his breakaway companions were gradually overhauled within sight of the Downpatrick finish by an eleven man chase group, which was spearheaded by North Down’s Sam Craig and Paul Ferguson. Craig launched an attack with two miles to go and Ferguson used his experience to good effect, controlling the others, as his team-mate built up an un-assailable lead. As the line approached Ferguson himself led out the sprint and took an impressive third place.
Speaking after the event, Buggle said "I am delighted to win today. We have sent a Leinster squad to this race since its inception but this is the first time we have been able to beat any of the Ulster riders. The race was fierce throughout and with the favourable winds, the pace and speed was relentless. On some of the descents we were reaching speeds of 60 mph.’ Buggle, who is a first year senior, with an impressive CV in the junior ranks must have been relieved that he had built up a sizeable lead before the North Down ‘one-two’ swung into action.
RESULTS: Armagh – Downpatrick Classic
1. Aaron Buggle (Cycling Leinster) 52.2 miles 1-52-29
2. Sam Craig (North Down)
3. Paul Ferguson (North Down)
4. Michael Murray (Clann Eireann)
5. Philip Bremner (Ballymena)
6. Barry Monaghan (Cycling Ulster)
Stuart Henry begins the five day Tour of Malta today in the colours of Ulster. He will be very much in a support role for the team captain, Ryan Connor, who won the event in 2007. As Connor (a former British Time Trial Champion) pointed out before leaving; ‘There is a long time trial on the first day and the time trial is therefore decisive.’ Whilst no slouch against the clock, having won All-Ireland time trial medals at under-age and junior level, Henry would not consider himself to be on the same level as either Connor or his other team-mate, the redoubtable Marcus Christie, who has raised the bar beyond the reach of most with record breaking performances at all distances. Nevertheless, this will provide the Regent House pupil with tremendous experience.
Bike-it Club Invitational Series
The club racing season gets underway on Wednesday next with a 1K out and back sprint – the Killermeter. Starting at 6:45 at the top of Orlock Hill for the downward leg, this will also be the first event of the Pacemaker Challenge. In this competition it is the ability to judge pace that counts. Points are awarded according to how close actual time is to predicted time. Being super-fast or super-fit doesn’t matter. So any clubman can win the prize of a heart monitor at the end of the series. There are 13 rounds of the pacemaker challenge covering all time-trial distances and 2 hill climbs. The best 8 of 13 events will count toward in the competition. No cycle computers or heart monitors may be used.
The club events are almost as sociable as they are serious. Some riders use them as serious training; others as another excuse to get out on the bike. Regulars will always encourage novices so no one should feel that they ‘won’t fit’ in this area of club activity. With over 100 club members this year, it would be wonderful to see greater support for the club programme. Full details are on the web site.
This year will see the inception of a club invitational road race series at Kirkistown sponsored by Bike-it Cycles. Races will be held on the first Wednesday of each month from May to August. These will be handicapped in favour of clubmen who don’t ride open races, but it is expected that many open race riders will also take part for fast training. Only North Down members will qualify for points toward the Club Road Race competition. Events for kids new to cycling will be held in the in-field area of Kirkistown whilst adult racing is underway. Spread the word about this series and let’s make it a success.
This Weekend’s Races
There are two races, this weekend, both out west. The bus is available for the trip to Saturday's Ciclisport Grand Prix. If anyone requires transport they should get in touch with Tom Henry before Friday. On Sunday the PJ Logan Cup at Coalisland offers our juniors the opportunity to take in the first round of the season-long Weefoot League. The under-age riders will be heading to Drogheda for the first of the selection races for this year’s Youth Olympics. We wish Nathan McLeer every success in these events.
All members are reminded that there will be another the Bokhara night this Sunday evening. As usual the cost of the meal will be £12.50 for a set mixed starter and your choice of main course. All drinks, dessert, coffee etc. are payable by yourself ! These are great nights and an opportunity to meet and socialise in the pleasant ambiance of the Bokhara.