23 August 2007

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North Down Riders to the fore in the Billy Stewart Cup

It was great to see the pink and black continually to the fore in the prestigious Billy Stewart Cup at Derrymacash at the weekend.  The race attracted over fifty riders including some of the best cyclists in the country, and was run over 6 laps of a flat 10 mile circuit. Interestingly, the limit group of S3's, vets and Juniors (including our own Neil McKenna and Alan Lavery)  were dispatched four minutes ahead of the scratch group; by the end this gap had actually increased to almost 6 mins!  This is an incredible feat and one of which the North Down riders can be justifiably proud.  

In the final dash for the line it was the highly experienced Gordon Scott who got the better of Sean Downey with Stephen Farr just edging out our own Neil McKenna.  Perhaps the best performance of the day was that of Alan Lavery.  A relative newcomer to the sport, Alan displaced great ability in the fast moving bunch and demonstrated his turn of speed further in the final sprint.  A real prospect for the future.

1. Gordon Scott (East Antrim Audi)
2. Sean Downey (Banbridge CC)
3. Stephen Farr (Team Madigan)
4. Neil McKenna (North Down)
5. Darren Weir (Dromara CC)
6. Alan Lavery (North Down)

Hillclimb Championships
North Down and Ards riders dominated the 2007 Northern Ireland Hillclimb Championships promoted by North Down Cycling Club on the Croft Road last Wednesday.  Warren Francis, representing Ards CC, who has been showing some good form of late, ran out the winner by only two seconds from North Down’s Stuart Henry.  This was particularly impressive for Stuart as he rode the event at the end of a demanding 50 mile training run – part of his preparation for this weekend’s Junior Tour of Wales.  Taking his first Northern Ireland medal was another North Down rider, William Barclay, who captured the bronze with three seconds to spare over Brendan Kirk.

1st        Warren Francis     Ards CC        2mins 38 secs
2nd        Stuart Henry        North Down CC    2mins 40 secs
3rd         William Barclay    North Down CC    2mins 43 secs
1st Veteran    Martin Lyttle        Ards CC        2mins 53 secs
1st Lady    Jessica Laird        XMTB            3mins 23 secs
1st Underage    Nathan McLeer    North Down CC    3mins 31 secs

Henry continued to impress since he up-graded to Junior by securing the 1st Un-placed junior prize at the West Down Grand Prix, held in Banbridge on Saturday last.  However, he’ll find the opposition somewhat tougher this weekend when he lines up against some of the best riders in Europe in the Junior Tour of Wales.  This is an event renowned for its severity, with five tough stages spread over three days.  It starts on Saturday with a hilly 45 mile road race in the morning and a tough time trial in the afternoon.  Sunday sees the riders in the hills of South Wales where they will be faced with two road stages totalling around ninety miles.  The final stage on the Monday is perhaps the most daunting being not only sixty-two miles in length, but finishing at the summit of a very demanding climb.  This is a huge step up for Henry, who before up-grading to the junior ranks, two weeks ago, was riding school-boy races which tended to rarely exceed 30 miles!

Youths fly the flag down south
Our young riders were again flying the colours of North Down south of the border last weekend.  On Saturday Newtownards girl, Rachel Mitchell, was part of the successful Ulster squad which lifted the Inter-provincial track championship in Dublin.  Rachel was again part of the group which travelled south on Sunday for the last youth road race of the season, in Drogheda.  Here again Rachel picked up the prize for first girl in the under-fourteen race.  For young Nathan McLeer this was his first road race of the season and it served as a good benchmark of the level of fitness he must attain in preparation for next season, when he will be an under-sixteen.  One rider who has finished the under-age season with a bang is Gareth Boyle.  Gareth had a great performance in the under-sixteen category finishing just out-side the prizes.  Again with an effective winter’s preparation Gareth, like Nathan, could make a real impact next season.  

Trans-Rockies Challenge
Well, our intrepid adventurers, Matty and Duane, have reached their destination in the Trans-Rockies Challenge.  What an achievement! As Matty put it, this was the ‘hardest things I will ever do.’    As he went on to explain: ‘The challenge was extremely tough but I gained a lot from it.’  Certainly a challenge across terrain such as that experienced by the North Down cyclists is on one level character forming if not life changing.  To have completed the demanding route speaks volumes of these young men’s character and tenacity and we are very proud of them as they should be of themselves.  Both boys are now taking a short time to recuperate before flying home.  However, the question remains- will they ever tackle such a challenge again?

Club Clothing
Some time ago Mark Coyle compiled an order of various types of club clothing.  However, he has not forwarded the order yet as the number of items in some categories did not meet the minimum order limit.  If anyone requires clothing they should contact Mark immediately so that the order can be completed.

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