The pretty seaside village of Blackrock in county Louth played host this year to the Irish National championships for cycling’s A3 riders. This particular cohort of riders makes up the bulk of the sport’s amateur clubmen and while their weekend racing normally sees them participating in handicapped races, often pitted against the elite end of the sport, on this occasion the 80 riders going to the start line did so knowing that they all had a decent chance of success. North Down CC fielded two of its most consistent riders this year, Shane Farren and Conor Hanna.
Farren had travelled West last year to contest the championship in the hills around Castlebar, on a course that suited him, and he was unfortunate to finish just outside the medals, cresting the hill top finish in a deserved but frustrating fourth place.
This year the 65 mile race was contested over 6 laps of a fairly flat course and on the day the fine but windy conditions suggested a fast race would ensue. North Down had made its mark in last year’s race and by the end of the first lap Conor Hanna seemed determined to repeat the message. On lap two he attacked and with one other rider he established a gap of about 10 seconds over the peloton. By the halfway mark he was still in the break, which by this time had increased to 10 riders and their increasing lead, now at 40 seconds, suggested that the move would prove to be the winning tactic. However, the chasing group was very active, with a strong team from Phoenix CC of Belfast doing a lot of the work and their efforts paid dividends for by the end of lap 4 the breakaway group had lost ground and the gap was down to 20 seconds. With the chasing group looking determined and several riders in the break starting to tire, Hanna drifted back into the bunch, hoping to allow himself a bit of time to recover. The end of lap 5 saw two riders holding a 10 second gap over the bunch and as they entered the final circuit it looked all set for a bunch sprint. Farren and Hanna tried to launch attacks but were unable to make them count. On the run in four riders attacked and managed to get a few seconds on the bunch to contest the sprint. The victory went to Maurice Lawlor of St. Finbarr’s CC. Both Farren and Hanna finished in the chasing bunch.
The event was well managed by Cuchulainn CC of Dundalk and the A3 contest, along with the accompanying race, the Irish Junior championship, provided an exciting day’s competition. The racing was timed to coincide with the village’s summer festival and the fine weather attracted a crowd of several hundred to the barriers in the finishing straight.
Killermeter Time Trail
Don’t forget that next week is the final event in the club calendar. It’s everybody’s favourite the 1 Kilometer Time Trial. One run out and one back with the times combined to determine the winner. It’s a test of outright speed with no thought to self preservation whatsoever. Start is the slightly earlier time of 6:45 since the nights are now drawing in so sign on will be correspondingly earlier. Hope to see you all there for the final competitive event in our popular summer race series.