11 March 2008

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Artic Conditions for Classic Cycle Race

 Two North Down members, Sam Craig and Stuart Henry, braved the arctic conditions last weekend to compete in the classic 77 mile Wallace Caldwell Memorial race.  The event, which started and finished in Ballymena, set out in bright but cold conditions.  However, the brightness soon faded and the large field had to contend with what were at time atrocious conditions with extreme cold, gale force winds, rain and sleet.

The speed and strong cross winds took their toll early on and riders were being dropped even before the race reached Portglenone at five miles.  Indeed it wasn't long before a substantial break had developed including Frazer Duncan (Northern Dave Kane), Adam Armstrong (Pezula), Peter Hawkins (Usher IRC), Kirk Sloan (Ards CC) Glen Kinning (Castlereagh CC), John Madden (Bann Wheelers), Thomas Martin (Clann Eireann/Linen Green) and junior rider, Leo McAllister of Ballymena. This break was soon to be joined by Ryan Connor (Pezula) who crossed the gap on his own.


Both North Down riders were always well placed in the main field and as the bunch ascended the first big climb of the day at Cam Forest the pink and black was very visible at the front.  Similarly, on the second climb to Springwell young Henry was in a group of eight which escaped off the front opening a gap of almost a minute.  Strong riding by the bunch on the descent, however, resulted in the bunch rejoining on the flat twenty miles from the finish.  Unfortunately for Henry it was at this juncture that he punctured and despite a five mile time trial up to the bunch, the combined effort of the escape and the effort to rejoin the bunch sapped any energy he had left.


Meanwhile the break in front of the bunch was similarly suffering in what could only be described as appalling conditions.  Nevertheless the two professionals in the race, Connor and Armstrong began to show their class and they pulled away to open up a considerable gap and the break began to splinter with several simply calling it a day.  In the end Armstrong and Connor came home together a good five minutes clear of the third placed rider Hawkins (Usher IRC). Castlereagh's Glen Kinning also proved he was on form by taking fourth position with Northern's Frazer Duncan crossing the line next.  Our own Sam Craig came in a very creditable 26 position a really super performance on a day when everyone finished cold, wet and dreary.

Henry on Ulster Junior Team

The Wallace Caldwell was the third of three selection events for the junior team to represent Ulster in the Tour of the North race at Easter.  As predicted last week, although only in his first year as a junior, Henry had done enough to catch the eye of the selectors, and he will join Peter Wilson (Maryland), Leo McAllister (Ballymena) and Peter Williams (Orchard) in the line-up for this tough four day race which always attracts the ‘cream of the crop’ from all over the British Isles.  In fact as well as the home based professionals this year there will be two continental professional teams. This is quite a daunting prospect for the young Bangor rider, who until a few months ago was racing in schoolboy events, but it is an opportunity to gain invaluable experience.


Weekend’s Racing

This weekend’s racing programme will be centred in County Down.  On Saturday the Castlereagh club promote the tough John Moore Memorial.  The following day there is the Downpatrick to Armagh race.  Both these events normally attract a large contingent from North Down and Harry Adams has, as in previous years, offered to drive the minibus.  Anyone wishing to take advantage of Harry’s kind offer of support should get in touch with him before Friday

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