24 May 2007

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Mitchell and Swenarton Win Silver

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.

Northern Ireland 10 Mile Time Trial Championship
Sixty-five riders turned out on Sunday morning for the NICF promoted Northern Ireland 10 Mile Time Trial Championship at Woodgreen near Ballymena.
North Down CC came away with one medal, when Under 14 Schoolgirl, Rachel Mitchell, took time off from her GCSE studies to grab second place in the Under 14 title race. She was beaten on the day by East Antrim rival Jack Wilson, who recorded a time (26mins 23 sec.) that would have given him the silver medal in the next category up.
Rachel, not a particular lover of Time Trials, unlike her dad who was twice National Champion as a Schoolboy, only rides the Championship events but still managed to slice over a minute off last year’s time recording a fine 29mins 50sec on a cold blustery morning.
The overall Championship was won by Ballymena`s Ryan Connor with 21.18, with North Down`s top Veteran Paul Swenarton recording 24.02, giving him 9th place in the Veterans category.

International duty
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.

However, Henry had some consolation for a disappointing weekend when it was announced on Monday that he was one of the three riders who will represent Ireland at the European Youth Olympics in July.  Stuart will take part in the time trial, road race and criterium events.  This is a tremendous achievement for the sixteen year-oldand a great honour for the North Down club.

Club Time Trial
The first of the club’s twenty five mile time trials was organised last Wednesday night on the Newtownards course.  The riders were greeted with persistent rain – but absolutely no wind – perfect conditions for fast times.  It was not surprising, therefore that flying vet John Hunter was home inside the hour!

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
The mini-bus is off to the Tour of Mayo this weekend.   If you have not as yet booked your seat you should contact Harry immediately.

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