Tour of the North 2012

23 March 2012

The countdown is on, with just two weeks to go, to N.I. cycling`s showcase event, the P&O Ferries Tour of the North, which takes to the roads at Easter. Ballymena Road Club Ė Chain Reaction Cycles Ė riders will line up against teams from Holland and Belgium along with those from the rest of the UK and Ireland.

Three of Britainís top outfits, IG Sigma Sport, Node4 Giordana and Rapha-Condor-Sharp are also on the entry list.

Ballymena will be represented by Ryan Bankhead, Chris Beattie, Matthew Brennan, Simon Taggart and guest rider Stevie McAllister from Ballymoney. Three times winner Ryan Connor is also considering taking part in the team, which will be managed by Hall Booth.


The event will have four stages, and will cover just under 220 miles of racing, over the Easter weekend.

Friday 6th April will see 100 international riders assemble for the now traditional opening Time Trial stage in the grounds of Stormont Estate in Belfast with the race getting underway with a prologue 1.1 kilometers hill climb ascent of the Prince of Wales drive in Stormont.

Stage two, which is based in Rathfriland, will have three climbs in the AA sponsored King of the Hills competition. These will include the legendary Spelga Dam as well as the Santaís cottage climb at Rostrevor before the sting in the tail finish back in the County Down town.

Counties Londonderry and Tyrone play host to Sundayís stage, with Magherafelt the location for another 70 mile test. From there the riders will race out to Moneymore and then complete two laps of a 28 miles circuit which takes in Cookstown, Lough Fea (with two KOH climbs) Draperstown, Desertmartin and Moneymore before returning to the finish in Magherafelt via The Loup.


Ballymena Road Club will host the Easter Monday finale when the Borough will again play host to the showcase final stage.

This final stage will start on the Woodside road and take in Deerfin road to the Larne road at the Battery. Then itís on to the first KOH climb of the stage at Shaneís hill. Then itís a fast descent to Kilwaughter and left on to Deerpark road.

The race continues around the coast road and the hilly detour up Tower road and on to Glenarm.

There is another KOH climb at the top of Glenarm glen. The descent to Carnlough takes the race back on to the coast road and over to Waterfoot and the final KOH climb of Glenariff.

The final miles are in through Cargan and Martinstown to Rathkenny where itís a left turn on to Knockan road and on to Broughshane. The stage finishes in the Woodside road industrial estate which offers a near closed road situation for the lead in to the final sprinting surge to the line.


Arthur Murphy, Business Development Manager at P&O Ferries, said: "P&O Ferries is delighted to again give its support to such an established and exciting event for cyclists. The event draws some of the biggest names in cycling from across Europe, the UK and Ireland.

"With 2012 being such an important year in the sporting calendar it is hoped that our continued support will go some way to encouraging new cyclists to the sport and maybe even produce more international riders for Ulster in the futureĒ

As well as long standing support from P&O Ferries, for 2012 the race organisers are delighted to welcome local company Powerhouse Custom Clothing on board to sponsor the Under 23 rider competition and provide the leaders jerseys. The specialist clothing firm provides clothing for various sports including Cycling, having already supplied the kit for last yearís Youth Commonwealth Games.

2011event winner Adam Armstrong is not on the entry this time around, leaving the way clear for a new name to be added to the winnerís trophy which dates back to the events origins in 1955.  
Full stage details are available for download from the event web-site, with regular updates on Facebook & Twitter