Road Race League Heats Up (Despite The Weather)
Last Wednesday night a field of 17 riders including some top end visitors contested the road race on the Springwell / Stockbridge road circuit. The 9 member limit group was given 1 minute per lap on the 8 scratch riders in the 5 lap race. The quality of this group, including Mark Kane, Fraser Duncan and James McMaster of Northern CC, Liam Curran of Curran CC and NDCC members Neil McKenna, Stephen Bingham, Paul Ferguson and Matt McInerney, ensured that the gap closed by around 1min 30 secs per lap – taking its toll in the process – Paul Stephen and Matt all retiring by the end of the 3rd lap.
The limit group kept away for 3 laps but was caught near Orlock on the 4th. Mark Kane attacked and split the group, taking Fraser with him. Some more riders retired a lap short having missed the break but he NDCC riders who completed the race picked up points in the RR league. In an exciting sprint finish Fraser shaved the win from Mark in a time of 1:08:20 with Neil McKenna first NDCC rider in 3rd at 1:25 down from James and William Barclay on the same time. Under 16 rider Nathan McLeer stuck in well for 6th at 1:29.
Two North Down men competed in Phoenix Cycling Clubs 3-Day event last weekend.
Comeback kid Matt McInerney and super vet Sam Craig both featured in the very tough ‘Bobby Crilly’ 4-stage race based around Nutts Corner.
Friday evening was bright and warm, spirits were high and bikes were gleaming. The 60 strong riders started the race from the gun as if they had everything to gain. The pace was very fast with average speeds of 35mph. Riders attempted to get away but most breaks were reeled in fairly quickly.
Both Matt and Sam placed well on this stage in 19th and 21st respectively 44seconds down on Stage winner Rodger Aiken of Banbridge.
Saturday morning was a different prospect altogether, driving rain wind and very poor visibility took its toll on all the riders and McInerney Failed to finish.
But ever the optimist Super Sam battled on to a very creditable 11th position on the stage and first vet an excellent performance against some of the countries top professionals and international riders.
The miserable conditions decimated the field and only some 30 odd riders showed for the afternoon's Time Trial Stage. This was won by the now overall leader Ryan Connor of ‘Eurocycles’ in time of 13.26 for the 6 mile circuit. He was 9 seconds faster than second placed rider Martyn Irvine. Sam Craig had another good performance clocking 15.52 and placing 18th on the stage.
The conditions for Sundays final stage didn’t improve any and gruesome accent to the mast on top of Divis Mountain for the finish proved decisive for the race Connor taking the stage and overall making him Ireland highest ranked home based rider.
For Super Sam though it was to a bridge to far as he was distanced on the run in to the finally on the mountain top and lost valuable time on his rivals in the Vets category but still maintaining a top 20 overall placing a good result for one of the good guys.
Meanwhile top junior Stuart Henry starts the prestigious ‘Junior Tour of Ireland’ this week (Monday) riding for the Irish Development Squad, he then goes straight to the heartland of tough Belgian cycling ‘Flanders’ to ride for the professional ‘Lotto-Bodysol’ team in their development team for 5 weeks. Best wishes from all at N.D.C.C.