Locals in good shape for big Wheelers weekend
Many local cyclists were competing at various venues all over the country in recent days in preparation for the Drogheda Wheelers-promoted weekend of racing this coming Saturday and Sunday.
The action kicked off in the Killinchy GP in County Down on Saturday where Drogheda Wheelers man Eoin Ferriter managed a top-10 result, making him a dark horse for a home success next weekend, the region's youth cyclists tested their ability amongst Ireland's best ahead of the largest youth stage race in the country in Bellewstown.
On Sunday, amidst torturous weather, many local riders took part in the Cycleways Cup promoted by Navan RC - a race which was postponed due to Storm Emma earlier in the year!
This event, one of the longest in the season, lasted 157km, after which Stamullen rider Cian Delaney continued his good strong form and sprinted to a top-10 finish, just ahead of Julianstown man Javan Nulty in 11th, with Wheelers star Niall Craven rounding out the top 15.
In the A3 event, Dunleer schoolboy Ben McCourt Lenehen was mixing it at the front of the bunch throughout the race and is showing himself as one to watch for the coming weeks.
This coming weekend will see Drogheda Wheelers promote their annual huge weekend of racing.
The clubs' efforts commence on Saturday morning for the 11th edition of Rás na nÓg which has grown into Ireland's largest youth stage race, where 140 of Irelands top cyclists from each corner of the country set off for Bellewstown for a 2-day, 3-stage event.
Due to the success of the race in the last few years, including a shortlisting for Cycling Irelands 'Event of the Year', it was no surprise to Race Director Gerard Campbell when he received several queries of international interest and he is looking forward to welcoming numerous British teams to the event.
The racing kicks off at 10am, with the cyclists - aged from 11 to 16 - tackling a 'criterium race' with laps of a 1.8km circuit around Bellewstown Race Course.
Saturday evening sees the riders face laps of a 7.5km route, taking in some of the hardest climbs of the North East, before finishing off their efforts with a fast road race on Sunday which sees competitors sprinting for a result on the Duleek to Julianstown main road.
Race Organiser Campbell, who is also secretary of the Wheelers, was quick to offer his thanks to all those who will give up their time over the weekend to assist in the event and he noted: 'Without the marshals, registration crew, route markers and all the other volunteers, this event simply couldn't go ahead.'
He also thanked the race sponsor Skoda Ireland and club sponsors Jons Civil Engineering, SCME and Dimplex for all their support towards the event.
Wheelers club chairman Andrew Watters echoed Campbell's words, adding that he couldn't wait to see who'll take away the champion cups this year.
Just in case promoting this prestigious event wasn't enough for Campbell and his crew, the Drogheda Wheelers club are also hosting two separate senior races.
The Peter Bidwell Memorial will take place on Saturday evening and this race remembers the club's late chairman who passed away in 2008 and is always a very competitive event as Ireland's top racers fight to take home the prestigious plaque.
Javan Nulty will surely try to make it two in a row, after taking home top honours in Donore last year.
Sunday will see the promotion of the Coombes Connor Memorial, remembering Donore natives Paddy Coombes and Tommy Connor, and sees the racers set off from Bellewstown Race Course before finishing in the same spot as the youth event, after 126km.
Campbell ended his address at the race launch by wishing each competitor the best of luck and he mentioned that although the race has winners and losers, its main aim is to 'keep the youth in the sport', the idea the race was established around by the late Bidwell and Campbell in 2007.
More information on the events can be found on Facebook and Twitter by searching Rás na nÓg or by visiting Droghedawheelers.ie.