3 May 2007

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Majorcan Sunshine!

 Tales of rain and cold weather in early April from cyclists returning from training camps in Majorca had been sending shivers down the spines of the North Down riders who were getting ready for their annual trip to the island at the end of the month. They need not have worried, their arrival just happening to coincide with the first decent week's weather this spring. Based at the excellent Club Pollentia, near Alcudia, for the second successive year, the group took full advantage of the warm, sunny weather to pile on the miles.

Each day, two or three groups would head off to various destinations, some of which have become annual challenges such as Puig Major and Sa Colobra, two of the longest climbs on the island where the demands of the climbs are compensated for by the beauty of the scenery. This year was a first for several club members and it was pleasing to see them all handle the long runs and climbs without difficulty. Even riders with limited training opportunities in the weeks before the trip, such as Patrick Bertenshaw, Wilf Redshaw, Amanda McCullough and Stephen Quinn, were able to knock off a 100 mile run that included a 5 kilometre climb to the monastery at San Salvador. Mind you, an entended lunch break at one of the harbour restaurants at Porto Cristo at the halfway point probably helped to recharge the energy levels.  Everyone on this year's trip would like to thank Philip Downie for his work in organising the accommodation and transfers.  Many of the riders will be having a fairly easy week, hoping that the high mileage in Majorca will pay dividends as the first of the season's big sportive rides approaches. The 125 mile Tour of the Glens departs from Belfast City Hall at 8am on Sunday morning. This is one of the most demanding runs on the calendar and, if the good weather holds, a record entry is a possibility. Entry is £10 and riders are reminded to bring their licences. Transport arrangements have not been finalised but riders will be kept informed by email.

Henry Wins First Irish Jersey
Following another excellent performance by Stuart Henry in Drogheda last weekend it came as no surprise when he received an Email was on Monday, confirming that he was on the Ireland team for two races in Belgium later this month.  Henry has competed consistently in all spheres of the sport this year.  In fact, in the four road races so far this season he has always been in the top three – being third once, second twice and winning once.  In addition, he has won both time trials – no-one in Ireland can compete with these statistics.  

As in the previous weeks the race at Drogheda attracted riders from all corners of the country.  Once again the circuit was extremely tough and demanding, with one really daunting climb.  Yet the severity of the course only seemed to encourage Henry to show his dominance, especially in the hills, attacking ferociously and decimated the bunch on the long haul up from the Boyne.  However, unlike at Dromore the previous week, none of Henry’s main protagonists were able to stay with him, and form an effectively working break.  As a result, when the roads levelled out Henry found himself in a solo time trial competing against a chasing group of ten, containing all his main rivals.  Not surprisingly he was caught with less than three miles to go to the finish.  Nevertheless, he still had enough energy left to take second place in the fast, bunch sprint.

It was also great to see Craig Swenerton back, gaining valuable experience in road races.  More familiar with time trialling and track racing Craig has been making giant strides this year in road races.  Indeed, this young lad from Perry shows great potential for he was not simply content to sit in the bunch, but made several excellent attacks.

Results from the Coombes Connor Memorial, in Drogheda

1 Peter Williams, Orchard Wheelers (Armagh).
2 Stuart Henry, North Down CC
3 Charles Prendergast, Mayo Wheelers.
4 Conor Campbell, Drogheda Wheelerss.
5 Mark Fitzsimons, Cork
6 Axel O’Connor, Laois CC

Another of our young riders who warrants mention is Rachael Mitchell.  Rachael travels this weekend to the Isle of Man to take part in the Manx Youth Tour.  This is an event which has grown in stature in recent years and will be a daunting challenge for Rachael, and we wish her well.

Club Races
There was no club race this week,due to the Majorca training camp, but normal service will be resumed next Wednesday night.  In fact the event is a three lap road race at Springwell which is always very popular.  It would, therefore, be appreciated if as many non-racing club members as possible would make themselves available for marshalling duties.

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