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Banbridge CC Gear Up for Easter Stage Racing

Banbridge CC riders have had some great successes in past editions of  the Tour of the North,  either guesting for other teams, or through selection for Ulster and Ireland. However the 2015 edition will be the first time in over 10 years that the club will enter a full team of their own.

With past members Noel Teggart and Tommy Evans having won the event a total of 4 times combined, locals will be excited to see the famous yellow, red and black jersey lined out in full force and attacking the roads over the Easter weekend.  Past winners also include former world number 1 Sean Kelly and 2013 World Champion on the track, Martyn Irvine.

The race will commence on Saturday 4th April with a gruelling 100km road stage.  Sunday 5th will see the riders start the day with a sharp 6km time trial followed by another 100km road stage in the afternoon.  Finalising on Easter Monday the riders will face 110km over some hard roads to fight out the final prize winners of the 3 jerseys on offer: Yellow (Overall GC) , White (Best under 23) and Polka Dot (King of the Hills). Full details on all the stages can be found at www.tourofthenorth.net .

The Banbridge CC team will be made up of a young squad, but despite their lack of years they bring a combined palmares that would be the envy of teams in the twilight of their career.  Bringing European Championship medals, multiple Irish National and Ulster Champions across various disciplines, the Banbridge lads aren’t there to simply make up the numbers.  The full team of riders will include: Mark Downey, Cameron McIntyre, Gareth McKee, James Curry & guest rider Lindsay Watson. The team will be managed by Neil Teggart, who himself brings years of experience having competed at an international level, representing Ireland on multiple occasions and NI at the Commonwealth Games. Also assisting with logistical and mechanical requirements will be Simon Curry, Kevin McAlinden & Aaron Wallace.

Despite being only 18 years, Mark Downey is arguably the most experienced of the team. On the road Mark has represented Ireland at the Junior World Championships and has had previous success in stage races too, winning stages and finishing 2nd overall at the International Junior Tour of Ireland and winning the overall GC of the infamously tough Ras Dhun na nGall in 2013.  Mark is also a past Irish Time Trial Champion and also a silver medallist in the Points Race at the European Junior Track Championships.  This will be Mark’s 2nd Tour of the North and is determined to cross the line first on at least one occasion in his first big goal of 2015.

Cameron McIntyre is the real youngster of the team, but with the unknown comes great excitement at just what may be possible. Having only moved into the Junior ranks in 2015 Cameron has already tested some of the countries Elite riders in the opening month of racing, making it into the key breaks in the John Moore Memorial and McCann Cup.  His biggest accomplishments to date have come off road where he is a previous Irish National and Ulster XC Champion.  Stepping into his first Tour of the North, Cameron will hope to gain form and experience for his goals later in the season including the Ras Dhun na nGall, Junior Tour of Ireland and hopefully some international competition in Europe during the summer months.

Having competed for the Cycling Ulster team at last year’s Tour of the North in the service of experienced international rider Peter Hawkins, Gareth McKee will this year enjoy a more free reign at the race to show the form that has so far brought him victory off road in the XC Spring League and first round of the Ulster XC League in 2015.  Gareth has also tasted success in the Newry 3 Day stage race where he stole the show with his heroic lone break aways on his way to securing the Polka Dot jersey for the King of the Hills competition.  Gareth has shown great consistency before to win the overall 2013 Irish XC National Points Series and will hope to add to that this year with a strong showing when he travels to the British series.

Having tasted much success off road in 2014 which included a stint at the UCI headquarters in Switzerland, James Curry has transferred that form onto the road and enters his first Tour of the North having collected the top Junior prize on numerous occasions and stepping onto the podium in the 2015 road season. Stage racing will be a bit of an unknown to young Curry, but few would be surprised to see a high overall placing in the Under 23 category where he has been noted as a rider to watch by the race organisation in their own pre-race build up.  James is the current Irish National Junior XC and Cyclo- X Champion and will be determined to show that he is just as capable on the tarmac as he is in the dirt.

Guest rider Lindsay Watson joins the team from Plush MTB.  Lyndsay will look forward to the road rising, being the current Ulster Hill Climb Champion.  He has also shown that he can mix it with the sprinters however winning the A2 category prize in the recent Tour of Ards.  With a solid winters training in his legs Lindsay will have his eye on a high overall placing as well as those KOH points.  Success this year has already come in the form of a victory at the XC event in Fermanagh and the second spot on the podium in the opening round of the Ulster XC league, having been bested only by his Tour of the North team mate McKee. Lindsays targets later in the season include the Tour of Ulster and National Classic league races and a solid Tour of the North will certainly set him up well for that.

Everyone at Banbridge CC wish the team the best of luck for the Tour,  and it would be fantastic to see our  iconic  yellow jerseys on display… both at the roadside  supporting the lads, and mixing it up  at the head of the race!