18 March 2008

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North Down’s Super Sam’s Success

Almost sixty riders, separated into three bunches, started the John Moore Memorial on Saturday last. The race was over four laps of the Temple-Ballinahinch-Saintfield course, a distance of 45 miles in total, and was completed in what could only be described as miserable conditions.

From the ‘off’, the action was frenetic, but the scratch still took two minutes out of the front group on each of the first two laps. By the half-way mark the scratch men had bridged the gap to the limit group and it was at this juncture that a group which included North Down’s flying vet, Sam Craig, Ballymena’s Tommy Wilson, mountain bike specialist Conor McConvey, Irish time trial record holder Thomas Martin and first category rider Glenn Kinning forged ahead. Marshalled by the experienced Kinning, who is hitting great form in time for this weekend’s Tour of the North, this breakaway gradually established an unassailable lead.

On the final lap, as the riders hit the hard climb after the lake on the Ballinahinch to Saintfield road, Kinning made his move and took McConvey, Martin and Sam Craig with him. This was a superb effort by Sam who is also hitting great form at just the right time. Although Kinning and McConvey managed to open up a small gap, Sam still managed to achieve his best performance of the season so far, taking a well earned 4th place. This is truly an exceptional performance when one considers the calibre of riders whom Sam left trailing in his wake.

It was another good day for North Down’s Stuart Henry. He won again the bunch sprint and lifted the prize for first junior.

Downpatrich to Armagh Classic

Bright sunshine is a rare commodity this year, but after the rain the previous day, the riders in the Downpatrick to Armagh Classic were surprised at the beautiful conditions as they lined up for this prestigious event. Once again the action started from the gun with North Down’s Paul Ferguson, Alan Lavery and Stuart Henry involved in early skirmishes.

However, by Dromore, at fifteen miles, a break containing Maryland Wheeler junior Peter Wilson, Thomas Martin (Cycling Ulster) and Paul Mulligan (Omagh Wheelers) had established a thirty second lead on the 80 strong field. With three superb time trialists it became obvious that this break was not going to be brought back easily, even though the peleton was moving at an average speed in excess of thirty miles per hour. Indeed by Portadown (40 miles) the lead had stretched to over two minutes. Although the gap gradually diminished over the closing miles, the young Maryland rider arrived at the line with over a minute to spare on his pursuers. When the bunch did arrive, Peter Williams (Juiced – Orchard CC) won the sprint for fourth place, edging out Gordon Scott (East Antrim), Ryan Bankhead (Cycling Ulster ) Alaister Fiddes (Juiced- Orchard) and Meath’s Mark Kelly (Stamullan).

Once again it was good to see the Pink and Black to the fore throughout the day. With riders such as Alan Lavery, Paul Ferguson and Noel Boyce all acquitting themselves admirably, the season promises to be one of the best for many years for the North Down club. Perhaps the real North Down heroes of the day were Harry Adams, who drove the support vehicle and Flo and Keith Millar who gave of their expertise as mobile marshals. Without people such as these, who give of their time and energy so freely, cycling events simply would not happen and we are all indebted to them.

Bokhara social night

Flo Millar is organising another of her famous social nights in the Bokhara in Bangor on Sunday night 30th March at 7:30pm. As always, friends and family will be very welcome and at a cost of £12.50 for set starter and the choice of main courses the night represents tremendous value. In addition Flo will have licences and CI handbooks to distribute on the night. If you plan to attend the social night, please contact Flo as soon as possible, so that a place can be reserved for you.

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