9 March 2010

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The second weekend of the 2010 racing season was centred on the Newry Wheelers’ promotion, the John Haldane Memorial which, because of road works, was moved away from the normal hilly circuit around Kilcoo to the dual carriageway between Newry and Warrenpoint. This turned out to be a mixed blessing for the six North Down riders who travelled to the event. The new A4 category race drew another big entry and North Down’s hopes were riding on the rapidly improving novice Mark Irvine and the more experienced Duane McCreadie who was taking part in his first race of the season. Young Irvine has strength in the hills but the flat terrain was ideal for McCreadie and at the end of the race, which came down to a bunch sprint, he was just edged out of third place with Irvine coming 12th.

In the main race Paul Ferguson, Noel Boyce, Matty Blayney and Richard McCullough were up against a top quality field. As an A1 category rider Ferguson’s task was made almost impossible by the handicapping. The large A3 and A2 groups were given generous time allowances and the scratch group of only nine riders, despite an average of 27mph for the entire race, never really got within striking distance.

Noel Boyce had won the B race last year and was looking forward to the usual challenging route in the hills so he was, believe it or not, disappointed that the race had moved to a flat strip of carriageway that was always going to suit the sprinters. As a sprinter, however, Matty Blayney was looking forward to a fast finish and Richard McCullough, who had only just returned from a week on the piste, was happy to give himself a bit of a thrashing regardless of the terrain. In the end, all three finished at the top end of the bunch sprint which was won by Jason Henry (unattached).


There are two races this coming weekend. On Saturday the John Moore Memorial race is organised by the Castlereagh club and will take in 80kms of a rolling circuit which starts at Carr Primary School on the Hillsborough Road, Carryduff. This is a pre-entry race and groups will be worked out on the day.

On Sunday the PJ Logan Cup race will consist of two separate races with different starting times. The 40 mile B race will get under way at 12noon and the main race for other categories will roll out at 2pm to cover 56 miles. Both races start at the Gortgonis sports centre, Coalisland.


After a bitingly cold winter the prospect of a week’s cycling in Majorca has more appeal than usual this year and with only 6 weeks to get fit for the numerous coffee stops and al fresco lunches that have come to characterise North Down’s annual jaunt, some riders are beginning to show signs of anxiety and there have been reports of lone North Down cyclists setting out as early as 8am in order to get in some miles. Experience has shown that the benefits of these clandestine outings are more apparent than real and by the third day of the enormous meals available at Club Pollentia, the athletes will be well on their way to putting back that three or four kilos they have battled all winter to lose.

At any rate, trip organiser Philip Downie would like to remind travellers that the balance on their account for the trip is due by 24th March.

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