The nature and layout of the John Beggs Memorial circuit lends itself to spectators hoping to witness the action unfold on the road. With various vantage points lending themselves to easy access and opportunity to watch the racing in multiple locations along with the fact that the race is covering laps of a 30km loop means you won’t be waiting long before you see the speeding bunch of Ireland’s elite domestic men and women. We’ve listed our top 6 spots on the circuit that we think are best placed to catch the action;
The climb of Ballykeel Hill is within the first 1km of the main circuit and, while giving way in length to some of the other climbs on the circuit, is likely to cause the riders the most problems due to its steep gradient and is often a favourite for those spectating on the course. It’s also very close to the climb up to Ballykeel crossroads which the race passes through 18km into the circuit so is an ideal spot to jump between two harder sections of the course.
The climb of Ballykeel crossroads is one of the less severe on the circuit, but it’s a wearing down circuit and every rise counts! The views over the Mourne Mountains from the approach to Ballykeel crossroads give the photographers a great chance for some stunning shots of the action with a great backdrop, and with such a great view you can see the groups approach from approx 1km out. This one’s a real crowd favourite.
Kinallen Village is home to one of the longer climbs on the circuit at 1.5km and it’s very possible to catch those riders out with tired legs in the final laps of the race. The steepest section of the climb is on the Skeagh Rd as the riders enter the village, while the crest of the climb will see the riders exit Kinallen in the direction of Dromara.
If it’s the fast pace action you like to see then Dromara village is the place to be. The long descent into the village means it is one of the fastest sections of the course. Add in the fast twisting corners as the race enters the village at speed and you’re guaranteed to see the race in one long line out. Home to Dromara Cycling Club who are likely to have plenty of local riders competing, there should be a great atmosphere too.
Another fast section of the course is McAdam’s crossroads as the riders descend off the arduous Edentrillick Rd before they hit the climb of Ballykeel Hill. It’s another spot where you can catch the riders twice on the same lap as the Flagpole on Leapoges Rd, where the riders will face a u-turn onto Lagangreen Rd is less than a minute’s dander. At only 3km from the finish circuit it gives you plenty of time to get back in time for the finale as the riders enter their final lap.
We’ve left the obvious one to last. The finish line atop Mount St is on a fairly flat section of road, but the steep 400 meter ramp that the riders face as they enter Mount St, maxing out at 5%, and cresting with only 250 meters to the finish line will be the ideal launch pad for those who have the strength to make it count.
All races start between 12 noon and 12:15 on Mount St. Expected race finish times are listed below;
Race Finish (A4’s): 14:00 – 14:15 (Estimated)
Race Finish (A3/Jr’s): 14:25 – 14:50 (Estimated)
Race Finish (Women): 14:50 – 15:10 (Estimated)
Race Finish (A1/A2’s): 15:10 – 15:30 (Estimated)
Podium Presentations: 15:50 (Estimated)