Sports

Wheelers excel at Irish Championship

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Wheelers excel at Irish Championship thumbnailGARETH O'NEILL

SEAN Featherstone and Colm Quinn hit the road to Sligo on Thursday afternoon for the Irish Mens Elite time trial road race. This race was promoted by Eire Óg Cycling Club, County Sligo and was the start of one of the premier events on the Irish Road Cycling calendar.
The rolling 17.5km loop course in Collooney, had a short climb after 6km.
A strong field was named with some Irish Pro riders back home in Ireland to take part. Ryan Mullan, defending championship who rides with Trek-Segafredo was hotly tipped to take the title again this year.
Sean and Colm both did exceptionally well in the hot conditions, with Sean (46:40) finishing in a fantastic fourth while Colm (49:12) was ninth.
Meanwhile on Sunday, Gareth O'Neill took to the starting line of the final and the most anticipated race of the weekend in County Sligo, the Irish National Championship U23 Road Race. 120 of Ireland's best riders would cover the 175km distance, which was organised and promoted by Eire Óg Cycling Club, Sligo; it consisted of a 18km loop which the Elite men & U23s would complete 10 times.
On the 18km loop, the riders would have to encounter Hungry Hill, a steep climb of over one mile with the gradient between 6 and 11 percentage. Lining up along side Gareth in the U23 race were Mark Downey and Michael O'Loughlin, both Team Wiggins; Eddie Dunbar - Aquablue Sport; Jake Gray - VC Toucy; Ben Walsh - Vitus Pro Cycling to name a few.
Starting in the Elite men race at the same time, were some big hitters in the current Irish Pro Cycling scene such as Sam Bennett - Bora Hansgrohe; Conor Dunne - Aquablue Sport; Ryan Mullen - Trek Segafredo; Nicholas Roche - BMC Racing Team.
Gareth had a super effort staying close of the main bunch for the first couple of laps, and continued well mixed in one of the chasing bunch down roughly 35 seconds with the likes of Mullen and Bennett and to be eventual winner Conor Dunne.
At the half way mark a strong group had been established with Team Caldwell rider Darnell Moore having a strong day on the circuit.
Gareth stayed with the chasing group he was in, riding well and climbing strongly even after Mullen and Bennett called it a day before the eighth lap.
It was a great experience for Gareth who finished one lap down, as the group he was in decided against the steep one-mile climb on the finish loop.
A tough day at the office for many riders, in which 120 riders started and only 20 finished. A massive well done Gareth.
Meanwhile triathlete and Newry Wheeler Anne Marie Featherstone took on a mighty 420-mile Challenge on the June 16 with a group of work colleagues. The 13 cyclists started out in dull rainy conditions at Malin Head but finished up six days later in the beautiful sunshine in Mizzen Head where family and friends greeted the finishers.
The group have raised close to £4000 and the donations are still coming for in two great causes Prostate Cancer and Cancer Research. Anne Marie has been training hard on the weekend spins with the club and loves hills. So very well done.

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