Giant Step For Stuart
Young North Down cyclist Stuart Henry has been offered a fantastic opportunity this summer to taste the big time of continental racing. Thanks to the efforts of Belgian national Dany Blondeel, who now lives in Newtownards, Stuart has been signed up by the junior squad of the Lotto Racing Team to race for them in July and August.
As Dany explained, ‘At the start of this year an idea came about when David
Mc Cann (Giant Asia) suggested that I should use my connections with Belgium cycling to start a guest rider project (that’s how Sean Kelly started). This would give some of our brilliant youngsters a go at the Belgian cycling races, probably the best in the world.’
Dany then posted the CV’s of some of Northern Ireland’s most promising riders on the web and invited offers from the continental outfits. In Henry’s case the fact that he had been Northern Ireland, All-Ireland and Scottish Champion at youth level as well as representing Ireland in several youth races, including the European Youth Olympics clearly was the key to his invitation to Belgium.
However, to be able to compete at this level it is not sufficient to have the ability and application, it is also very necessary to have the right equipment. Stuart explained that it is not simply the capital outlay on bikes (some coasting over £5000) but also the wear and tear on the equipment which make racing at this level so expensive. He was therefore delighted when local retailer, Bikeworks of Balloo, persuaded the manufacturers of Giant bikes to sponsor some of the very necessary equipment.
Paul Smith of Bikeworks stated this week, ‘We recognised Stuart’s talent and it wasn’t a difficult job to convince Giant that they should support his progress. We all wish him well.’ The photograph shows Stuart, along with Paul Smith, examining the equipment which Stuart will use in Belgium.