17 May 2007

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 Swenarton Wins Silver in Ulster Championship

A few weeks ago it was predicted in this column that North Down’s Cycling Club’s Craig Swenarton could look forward to a great year in the saddle.  Craig only came into the sport last year and he achieved immediate success on the track.  He put in together a great training regime over the winter with the intentions of competing in road races and time trials as well, and his dedication is already beginning to pay off.

Last weekend Craig travelled to Armagh to take part in the Ulster Youth Road Race Championships.  A few weeks ago this would have been a daunting experience for the  Bangor Academy sixteen year old.  However, having already competed in several tough road races on both sides of the border Craig was unfazed by the prospects of tackling the undulating 25-mile course.  Indeed it was noticeable from the start that he and young John Neil from Carrickfergus were the strong men in the race.  In the end it was no surprise that these two managed to escape the pack and work together as a cohesive unit.  As the line approached Craig made his bid for glory and he managed to get day light between him and Neil.  Unfortunately with yards to the line Neil managed to come level and just edged Craig in the sprint for the line.  Nevertheless, being his first ever championship road race Craig should be justly proud and look forward to the Northern Ireland Championships which will again be organised by North Down over the Bangor-Donaghadee circuit.

Young  Rachael Mitchell was also competing at the Ulster Championships last Saturday.  Back from her sojourn on the Isle of Man she was up against tough opposition in the under 14 race.  Perhaps feeling a little stiff after her dramatic tumble on the Island Rachael did really well to finish first lady and 5th overall in the race.

Whilst Rachael and Craig were keeping the Pink and Black to the fore on the local front Stuart Henry was on international duty in Belgium.  In the Saturday road race, just outside Brussels, Henry put his experience from the British Series to good effect in the fast, flat event, going away in not one but two very significant breaks.  Indeed the second of these turned out to be the winning move, but unfortunately Henry punctured 15 miles from the finish.  He had little more luck on the Sunday when his back tyre exploded as he rounded a corner on the first lap, resulting in a heavy spill.

Club Road Race
The first of the club’s road races was held last Wednesday night, on the Springwell Donaghadee circuit, in atrocious conditions.  It was great to see Gareth Boyle in the action again last week after having suffered an accident in rugby. Gareth is another very promising under sixteen and he was part of a very effective group which contained William Barkley, Craig Swenarton, Eric Blayney and Martin Lyttle.  With 4 mins to spare over the scratch group it looked for a time as if they would stay away from the fast moving scratch group.  However, the time keeper and handicapper got it just right as with 5 miles to the scratch group made contact.  Nevertheless, it was noticeable that the limit men were not overawed and managed to compete with these  more experienced riders.

Over Orlock the last time James McMaster and Ross Blayney made a great effort to escape, but the move was countered by Liam Curran and Stuart Henry.  However, over the top Ross and Liam managed to get a few seconds of daylight between them and their pursuers.  Working strongly they managed to hold off the chasing group until the final straight with Ross taking the verdict from James and Liam with William Barclay in 4th place, Stuart Henry 5th and Gareth Boyle 6th.

Race secretary, Paul Ferguson was very appreciative of all the marshals who turned out to assist on the night.  Without the assistance of such helpers, it would be impossible to run such events.

Coastal Challenge
The Bangor Coastal Challenge is only a month away and already entries are filling up fast.  This year the police have recommended that the entry list is closed at 700.  This number is clearly going to be realized at an early stage.  To help marshal the event and help with administration etc. all club members are requested to make themselves available on Saturday 16th June for what promises to be another remarkable event.  Any non club member who wishes to enter the Coastal Challenge should visit the club’s website at  www.northdowncc.com  and follow the link for on-line entries.

Bike Skills
The early part of June promises to be a very busy period for the North Down club as the annual skills event for school kids will be held on Thursday 7th June.  Once again this promises to be both an enjoyable night for club members, with the traditional barbecue, and a great shop window for the club.  As in previous years the venue will be Valentine’s Playing Fields with helpers being asked to arrive by 5.30pm

Touring Events
Touring Secretary Terry Nicoletti reminds everyone of two enjoyable tours which will be happening in the near future. Firstly there is the ‘Over the Quoile’  Romanian Appeal  which will take place on Sunday (20th May).  This event starts at Loughinisland's St McCartans Hall at 9:45am (80 mile cycle) and 11.30am (40 mile cycle).  Then on the 27th May there is the Tour of Mayo.  This event starts in Ballyhaunis with sign on around 9.00am so an overnight stay will be necessary.

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