9 August 2007

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North Down Cyclists Selected for Ulster

Three North Down cyclists Rachael Mitchell, Gareth Boyle and Stuart Henry competed with distinction in the Kerry International Youth Race, last weekend in the colours of Ulster.  The race brings together the best of local and cross-channel under-age talent, as well as teams from South Africa, Belgium and Malta.

In all, the cyclists have to compete in no fewer than four events, spread over the three days; two road races, a time trial and a criterium.  In the category two race, for under 14 year olds, Rachael was competing against some of the top schoolboys, such as Jack Wilson, and rode tenaciously all weekend in the Ulster Girls’ team and ended up a very creditable 35th overall.

Similarly for Gareth Boyle, who missed most of the season through a rugby injury,  the size and the speed of the bunches is something with which he is not familiar.  However, as the weekend progressed so did Gareth’s confidence and he produced excellent displays on the road stages on Sunday and Monday, finishing 39th overall.

By comparison Stuart Henry, having just returned from the Youth Olympics (where the average speed in the crit. was 29.5 mph and the bunch contained up to 105 riders) was clearly much at ease in the big, fast moving groups.  Indeed on the Saturday stage he was in the winning move until one of the legendary Kerry pot holes reduced his hopes of overall glory.  On the Sunday time trial he again demonstrated his ability taking 4th place overall (4 secs behind the winner).  His best performance, undoubtedly came on the Sunday afternoon stage when he attacked with 8k to go.  He was joined by the strong Belgian rider Cederic Demenceau (VC Ardennes) and together they built up a lead of over half a minute before the finish.  A jubilant Henry took the stage win and this was enough to move him up to 4th place (7secs off a podium place) and Demenceau became race leader.  Unfortunately for Henry he was out of luck on the Monday stage when suffered another puncture, just 5 miles from the start. A slow service meant that he had a two minute gap to close to the bunch.  The task of closing this gap became an impossibility, however, when he suffered a second puncture less than a mile later.

Nevertheless, for all three North Down riders it was a very worth while experience and a fitting bench mark of their ability.  None of them were over-awed by the standard of opposition, but the competition clearly identified areas where each of them must improve if they want to succeed at the highest level.

Club Race
Lat week’s club race was the very popular 1 kilometer time trial.  The event took place in almost ideal conditions, with unusually warm conditions and very little wind:
Paul Swenatron    1:18
Craig Swenarton   1:21
Matty Blayney      1:22
Noel Boyce          1:24
Stuart Henry         1:24
Owen Parkes        1:24
John Hunter          1:25
Duane McCreadie  1:25
Russell Moreland   1:26
Armin Machmer     1:28
Next week’s event is one which will appeal to all our members, especially those flying vets who turn out on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  It is the Hill Climb Championship, on the Croft Road in Holywood.  Imagine the kudos you’d have all winter on the Vet’s run or over your coffee and a scone in Ballywalter if you could boast that you were the hillclimb champion.  There would never be any more need to prove your testosterone levels by sprinting for the 30’s!

Another busy month for the touring contingent started last weekend at the Old Bleach Cycling Club’s Lough Neagh  and Sperrin Challenges.   This weekend the tours continue with the Dromara Hilly (www.dromaracc.co.uk/) on Sunday.  On Sunday 19th the Inishowen 100 is on the agenda and the month is rounded off, on the 26th,  by another chance to cycle through five of the six counties in one day  in the Lap The Lough (Neagh) event.  Certainly a busy time for all our recreational cyclists.  For information on any of these events contact Terry Nicoletti and for information on shorter, local recreational events visit the club’s website at http://www.northdowncc.com

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