Nathan selected for UK School Games
For the first time ever, cycling will be part of the UK School Games this year and Saint Columbanus pupil, Nathan McLeer has been selected as part of the Northern Ireland cycling team. The event will take place in September on Cardiff’s indoor velodrome, where the British team prepared for the Beijing Olympics. This is a great honour for Nathan and an opportunity for him to rub shoulders with the star of the future.
Last weekend Nathan had an opportunity to hone his track skills in the Inter-Provincial meeting at Sundrive in Dublin. Although he was disappointed with his 600m time trial he made amends in the sprints where he recorded a 2nd and a win. The final event was a 10 lap endurance race in which Nathan used his road experience to take a fine 3rd place. No doubt all this will stand him in good stead when he travels to Cardiff in September.
Curran Portaferry 3-Day
Connor Murphy (Usher Irish RC) was a dominant winner of the Curran Portaferry 3-Day picking up three of the four stages. From a North Down perspective, it was good to see Paul Ferguson taking the bunch sprint for 5th on Friday night and then bettering that on Saturday with a fine 4th place. It was equally good to see Philip Marshall back in the thick of things, and indeed he was very unfortunate not to make it into the decisive break at Kirkiston in stage 1.
Matty Blayney had the misfortune to puncture at a crucial time on Friday night and and to be brought down in a pile-up on the final stage. Perhaps the busiest and most tired man at the weekend, however, was Harry Adams. Harry not only carried out his role as masseur but he was also on hand to assist all the riders both before and after the race. Harry has been invaluable to the team this year and it is in no small measure due to his skill, encouragement and efficiency that the North Down team has performed at a level which has exceeded all expectations. The whole team is really indebted to him and to his eye for detail.
Henry Fifth in Belgium
Having returned to Belgium, after a disappointing Junior Tour, Stuart Henry had an immediate boost last week when he took 5th place in his first outing. This is his second spell this year in the hotbed of cycling and he has begun this sojourn where he left off in June – having secured 2nd place on that occasion.
The race last weekend was on a tough, hilly circuit at Tourinnes, in the Northern part of the country. Henry missed the initial break, which went from the gun, but crossed along with three others in the second lap. The twelve man group gradually opened up an unassailable break and in the sprint Henry was happy to secure 5th place. This is a confidence boaster for him as he has been selected by his Lotto Bodysol team to ride in this weekend’s La Gleize UCI ranked 2.1 World Cup stage race in the Ardennes.
25 Mile TT
In a less than favourable night John Hunter ran out winner in the club 25 mile time trial with a fine time of I hour and I minute. This was over 4 minutes ahead of second placed Norman Wilson (1.4.11) with Noel Munnis taking third place in a time of 1.10.57. Noel had just over half a minute to spare over Gary Swenarton (1.11.28) with Mark Coyle and Gordon Paul completing the top 6 with times of 1.13.37 and 1.13.58 respectively.
Youth Hostelling Weekend
There has been a great response for the Youth Hostelling weekend in September, with over 15 having already signed. This promises to be a really enjoyable weekend and anyone considering going should contact Julie Stevenson as soon as possible so that the necessary arrangements can be made.
Aquatech North Down Grand Prix
With the news of the big prize money already generating interest in the Acquatech North Down Grand Prix, it seems that many of the big names of Irish cycling will be visiting the roads of North Down on the 23rd August to take part in what promises to be a very exciting road race.
However, for real talent no-one needs look further than the pink and black. Neil McKenna, for example, will be very much at home on the Donaghadee, Groomsport, Springwell circuit. Similarly, recently up-graded Paul Ferguson is clearly hitting a purple patch and will no doubt have a real desire to end the season on a high note. In addition, Stuart Henry returns from Belgium a few days before the event and should be able to put his continental experience to good effect, in the junior category.
There will be category prizes at all levels and in the veterans section who would bet against the Aquatech King himself, Sam Craig. Sam has been out for a number of weeks through injury but I have no doubt he’ll be back fitter and faster than ever. Another rider who has benefitted from a mid-season break has been Noel Boyce. He has demonstrated that such a lay-off can produce real dividends and he’ll be one to watch on his local circuit.
Safety on the Roads
In last week’s column it was noted that North Down stalwart, Terry Nicoletti, highlighted the need for cyclists to have consideration for other road users when cycling a large group. He reminded everyone that the roads are busy places and we as cyclists, who are generally also motorists, know what it is like to sit behind a slower moving vehicle for mile after mile and therefore should show as much understanding as possible to ensure a mutual respect when sharing the roads.
Whilst Terry was speaking specifically about the annual ramb
le, it is worth remembering that the same consideration should be given to all road users at all times. For example, it is important on Saturday mornings that the bunch should be divided into manageable groups. This can be easily achieved by letting the Portaferry group leave at 9 am with the Ballyhalbert and Ballywalter groups leaving at 5 minute intervals.
The new livery on the club minibus has drawn much positive acclaim. The graphics are the work of club member John Simms who owns Positive Solutions in Balloo Industrial Estate, and the club are grateful to him for his care, attention and professionalism.