Mullingar cyclist Damian Shaw (Team Asea) was the dominant winner of Ards Cycling Clubs classic race, The Tour of Ards for the Tommy Brown Memorial Trophy last Saturday. He finished 2 minutes 44 seconds ahead of local hero David Watson (North Down CC) who beat Craig McAuley (Roe Valley CC) and the rest of the original breakaway group in the sprint for second. Newry men Mark McKinley and Sean Featherstone were fourth and fifth with Belfast rider Alastair McAuley (Team Asea) sixth.
Brian Stewart (Phoenix) from Carryduff won the bunch sprint for seventh. Eighty riders started the 65 miles race in cold and dry conditions. The strong men like Shaw ans Watson were already on the attack by Ballyboley Corner after just five miles. Several attacks in the first 15 miles came to nothing but eventually Shaw broke clear just after Ballyhalbert. David Watson jumped across to Shaw with five others following to form a strong break of seven riders. This was the move of the day with Craig Rea (Phoenix) being the only rider to loose out as he was dropped in the last few miles and bunch passed him just before the finish line.
The break gained a one minute lead during the first of two loops taking in Cloughy and Portaferry. Several chasing groups tried to bridge including a strong looking move by Glen Kinning (Kinning Cycles) and David Hamilton (North Down CC) but the bunch closed them down. On the second approach to Portaferry Damian Shaw made a powerful attack and no one had a reply. He time trialled the last twenty miles to a well deserved win. Shaw works as a fireman and also represents Ireland as a pilot on tandems in the World Paracycling events. He is racing for the newly formed Team Asea which is an American Health Products chain. He had high praise for the Ards CC promotion and the racing scene up north in general. Also in the team is Bangor man Fraser Duncan who won the Tour of Ards last year and was competing for the first time this year on Saturday.
David Watson (North Down) is having a career best season so far. He now sits third in the current Cycling Ireland rankings, having begun the year with a win he has been placed in the top eight in all five events he has started. The 28 year old works as a Construction Engineer and travels to Edinburgh every week. As a junior he won the prestigious Kerry youth Tour back in 2002 and represented Northern Ireland in the junior Commonwealth Games in 2004.
His aims for the rest of the season include the Tour of the North, Tour of Ulster and the An Post Ras in May.
Newtownards man Barry Hamilton was the next of a big North Down club entry to finish in 23rd place with Johnny Webb and Garth Beattie also in the top thirty. First Ards CC man and winner of the Simon Hamill Memorial Trophy was Ian Carson. Killinchy CC had its first Tour of Ards finisher in Paul Crossan. It was pleasing to see a rise in the numbers of junior riders competing including North down CCs Will Hamilton, Joash Lawrence and Andrew Chivers.
The race was sponsored by See Sense (local cycle light company) and Romas Bar and Restaurant.
Paul Kirk On Podium again
North Down veteran, Paul Kirk was in the prizes again last Sunday. He raced to a fine third place in the Masters event at Feeny, Co.Derry. This result leaves him in second place in the season long Masters league.
European Youth Selection Races
North Down girls Molly McLarnon and Katie Armstrong made the long trip to Westport for the first of four Olympic Youth selection races. Molly impressed with a 2nd place in the 10 kilometre time trial with Katie not far behind in fifth place. The European Youth Olympics are in July in Georgia.
One of North Downs newest members, 15 year old Jacob Kennedy took part in his first downhill event last weekend at Carlingford. He placed tenth in the dare devil’ race which is definitely not for the faint hearted.
Report by Brendan Kirk