24 August 2009

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Ferguson Best in North Down Grand Prix

Local North Down cyclist Paul Ferguson had a superb performance in the Acquatech North down Grand Prix when he crossed the line in 6th place after 50 hard miles on the Donaghadee, Groomsport, Springwell circuit last weekend. The race was won by Glenarm’s Conor McAllister who had been aggressive all day and was in fact involved in a break with Thomas Martin (Clann Eireann), Niall Shannon (Maryland) and Davy McKnight (Dromara CC) as early as the first lap. This break-away group worked well together and it looked as if it would succeed when they gained a full minute advantage on the rest of the bunch. For five of the seven laps they managed to stay ahead of the field, but on the penultimate lap an eight-man counter attack closed the gap. At the head of this group was the pink and black of North Down, in the form of Paul Ferguson, who was having a commanding race.

With 10 miles to go Kieran McKenna (East Antrim), John Madden (Curran Racing) and McAllister (Ballymena- Scott) jumped clear of the field and quickly built up an unassailable lead. Ferguson tried valiantly to close them down, but at the line it was McAllister who won the sprint ahead of Madden and McKenna. Lurgan’s Thomas Martin (Clann Eireann) finished on his own for 4th spot. Ronnie Smyth (Dromara CC) lead in the rest of the chasers ahead of Paul Ferguson (North Down), Liam Curran (Curran Racing) and Leo McAllister (Ballymena- Scott).

If there had been a prize for the most sporting then it would surely have gone to Raymond Beers of East Antrim. His son, Jonnie was Stuart Henry’s main challenger in the junior section. When Stuart punctured with two laps to go it looked as if Jonnie would lift the junior prize but first on the scene was Raymond who gave Stuart one of Jonnie’s wheels enabling him to rejoin the race. Stuart chased the bunch, which included Jonnie, caught them and in the final sprint he beat Jonnie to the line.

This was another fine North Down promotion, with the marshalling, in particular receiving much praise. Mention should also be made of the fine culinary spread which was laid on afterwards with curry and rice, moules mariniere, barbeque ribs, sausages, hot titbits, sandwiches etc. All those concerned should be justly proud. Thanks to the support of North Down Borough Council and local firm Aquatech this is an event which can only grow.

1. Conor McAllister (Ballymena-Scott)
2. John Madden (Curran Racing)
3. Kieran McKenna (East Antrim)
4. Thomas Martin (Clann Eireann)
5. Ronnie Smyth (Dromara CC)
6. Paul Fergson (North Down)
st Veteran Liam Curran (Curran Racing)
st Junior Stuart Henry (North Down CC)

Club Road Race

Despite heavy rain there was a good entry for the final road race of the 2009 season. A front group of 3 including Ian Blayney were given a 3 minute handicap over scratch. However, 30 seconds after they started the armada arrived – 10 of our sailing members, having been directed by Richard McCullough to the wrong starting point. So they were waved on through into the race and the scratch group held for a further 2 minutes before getting underway.

By the end of the first lap the scratch group had passed the fleet and made up 2.5 minutes on the 3 limit riders who continued to hold a 45 second lead at the end of the second lap. They were eventually caught at Hightrees. A two-up sprint saw Kieran McKenna of East Antrim edge out Richard McCullough for the win.


Kieran McKenna East Antrim

Richard McCullough NDCC

Jack Wilson East Antrim

Paul Ferguson NDCC

Liam Curran Curran

Nathan McLeer NDCC


With all the road races now completed there is a tie at the top with Richard McCullough and Matty Blayney equal on 28 points. However, on a count-back Richard wins the league on winning performances. Paul Ferguson takes third place on 22 points followed by Noel Boyce (18), Michael Hamilton (15), Alastair Irvine and Neil McKenna both on 10 points.


With the introduction of the Kirkiston events this year the league certainly has entertained from start to finish. Race secretary, Eric Blayney, deserves much credit for organising the events, which have always been excellently handicapped and challenging.


Tour of Wales

Junior rider Stuart Henry returned from Belgium last week and took the opportunity of brushing up on his track skills in the Irish Track Championships, where he took silver in the scratch event and bronze in the sprint. He heads off tomorrow (Friday) to ride for Ireland in one of the toughest events in the Junior Calendar, the four Stage Tour of Wales. Not only is this a gruelling race with three mountain-top finishes, but it also attracts the cream of British cycling. Henry will be joined on the national team by road race champion Charlie Prendergast from Mayo and fellow Ulster men Marcus Christie and Jonnie Cole. This is indeed a strong Irish team and it will be interesting to see how they fair against some of the best cyclists in the world.


Inter-provincial Tack Championships

The Leinster squad went into the final round of the inter-provincial track championships with a comfortable advantage from Round 1, but were reminded that they needed to dig as deep as they did in Dublin to press home their advantage. The team ethic was very much in evidence on the day from both sides and the many supporters who were present were treated to a fine display of fast, skilful and tactical riding. Riders who battled it out just over a week ago in the National Youth Track Championships now were working with each other to ensure the best result for their respective province. Most pleasing of all was seeing that the standard of track riding is improving and it is no coincidence that youth track riders do so well on the road also.


North Down’s Nathan McLeer was one of those who rode strongly throughout the day. In the 500 m TT he was 8th in a time of 44.50. He was 2nd in the sprint B Final
and he was 4 in the scratch race. This is excellent preparation for Nathan before he heads off to Cardiff for the British School’s Championships in September.


Majorca 2010

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. Its time to think about the annual trip to the sun next spring! Philip Downie informs me that the flights for 2010 are now out and as usual early booking will get the cheap flights. The dates are Saturday 24th April, returning on Saturday 1st May.


Philip has already made a provisional booking for the Club Pollentia Hotel. Anyone wanting to look at the rates can look at the website clubpollentia.com. The rates are subject to a 20% discount for a group of over 16 with 1 person free which will also go into the pot. The hotel will again offer transfers from the airport to the hotel no matter how many people are travelling, but hopefully the same will not apply to Easyjet who have not transferred bikes on the return leg for the las
t two years. Hopefully this will not happen on the outward journey but anyone wanting to hire a bike out there should contact the hotel and arrange this themselves.

Philip reminds everyone wishing to go that they should book their flight and then give him their name together with the type of accommodation they require. As soon as he has the details from the hotel he will require a deposit. So as our wet autumn continues here is something to which you can look forward.

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