Tour Of The North

30 January 2012
Ballymena Road Club – Northstone – will be represented at this Easter’s P&O Ferries Tour of the North stage race with both riders and organisers involved in the event.
Hall Booth is the team manager and he is currently assembling his line-up, which will include three times winner Ryan Connor, from Ahoghill, who won the race in 2004, 2006 and 2008.
Ryan Bankhead, Matthew Brennan, Simon Taggart and guest rider Kyle Cole, the Ulster junior champion are also included.
Some of the Ballymena Road Club racing committee members also play a pivotal role in the organisation of the Tour of the North and they will be involved again with this year’s event, which is scheduled to take place between Good Friday 6th April and Easter Monday 9th April.
The town itself will again host the event with the Monday stage taking place in the borough.
Race Director Anthony Mitchell has issued the following press release.
"With the Olympic season fast approaching, the cream of Ulster's racing teams are invited to apply for entry to the 2012 P&O Ferries Tour of the North at Easter. In just over nine weeks, on Friday April 6th, the start of what promises to be the best edition of the race yet will take place with the now traditional Stormont Hill Climb.
Traditionally taking in some of Northern Ireland's toughest roads, and visiting some new locations for 2012, this edition of the Easter classic will undoubtedly see a deserved winner on Easter Monday. There has been a huge interest from European teams as the race's reputation, as a tough and professionally promoted event, spreads and 2012 sees P&O Ferries continued support as title sponsor. Despite the tough economic climate they have yet again invested heavily and helped race organisers to develop this event.”
"Riders should be aware of Cycling Ireland’s category regulations and are reminded that this is a tough international race for experienced riders. Due to the continued restrictions on maximum entry numbers, the race organisers hope to fill places, reserved for local teams, with riders of the highest standard possible. Teams are advised to act quickly as this event is always oversubscribed.”
Official Entry Forms are available from Anthony Mitchell, and interested teams should register their interest and request an entry form early via email:
Ballymena Road Club’s two major open race promotions are sandwiched either side of the Easter showpiece event.
Their first of the season will be the Wallace Caldwell road race at Galgorm on Saturday 10th March 2012. This is a very early date for such a tough event but riders, with ambition to ride the Tour of the North, will use it as preparation.
The 2011 Caldwell race was held on 16th April, two weeks before Easter, and the winner, Adam Armstrong (Eurocycles) went on to win the Tour of the North last year.
The, Blair International Transport, Red Hand Trophy road race is scheduled for Broughshane for Saturday 14th April 2012. It comes just five days after the tour finishes and any rider who comes through the "Tour” with good form will be well placed to challenge for the "Red Hand” Martyn Irvine (Giant Asia) won the Red Hand Trophy in 2011.
Weather conditions were very poor for Ballymena Road Club’s reliability trials on Sunday morning, with the riders having to contend with heavy rain throughout the event. Nevertheless there was still an entry of 68 for the two events.
The "A” group was 40 strong and they completed a 72 miles ride which took in Antrim, Greystone, Templepatrick, The Longshot to Ballyrobert, then Mossley, Greenisland, Woodburn, Kilroot, Glynn, Larne and the pit stop at Ballygally.
Then it is on around the coast road and home via Glenarm, Carnlough and Glencloy before the fast run in through the Braid to Broughshane and back to base, where hot showers and post event refreshments were very welcome.
The touring section’s 53 miles route  took them out the Larne Road towards Glenwherry and then right on to Ballynashee road and on to Ballyeaston and the Lower Ballyboley road to Kilwaughter and on to the pit stop at Ballygally and then back the same route as the "A” run.
Hugh McCullough, the BRC race secretary, organised the event and he accompanied the "A” ride as support vehicle. Hugh was amazed that he had no punctures to fix during the event. This was very unusual indeed especially on such a wet day. Hugh thanks all those who helped on Sunday including: Rex Bonar, Alan Mark, Sammy Connor, Jim Burns, Maurice McAllister, Joan McCullough, Sadie Connor, Mary Mark and Carol Mark and everyone else who assisted in any way. Anyone who took part and forgot to pay their entry fee may still do so and next Monday night’s club meeting. (Yes there are always those arrive late and haven’t time to sign in)