Epic Ride by Cycling Ulster's Lavery

The final stage of the P& O Irish Sea Tour of the North International cycle race saw an epic display from Philip Lavery of the Cycling Ulster-David McCall Foundation-Slane Cycles team in the Glens of Antrim today. The 20-year-old who won the opening two stages but lost the race lead on Easter Sunday began today's stage at Ballymena over one minute down on Yellow Jersey holder Hamish Haynes of V.C. Ecosse.


Lavery attacked from the drop of the flag and was joined by Australian Dean Windsor (Rapha Condor) and Martyn Irvine (Planet X). With 70 miles to cover including three major climbs in the Glens it seemed a futile last ditch stand but the trio worked well and built up a three minute lead over the rest of the field. Irvine took maximum points on the first two climbs at Shanes Hill and Ballyvaddy ensuring that he would win the King of the Hills competition but faded on the final climb of Glenariff and dropped back to the main group.


Windsor and Lavery continued on into a fierce headwind in the final 12 mile run-in to the finish. The gap started to come down and although they were in no danger of being caught Lavery needed to pull back 1 minute and 19 seconds if he were to win overall.

Windsor took the stage victory crossing the line just ahead of the Ulster rider and there were anxious moments as the clock ticked away before the main peleton arrived. Rapha Condor's Matt Cronshaw led in the main field containing the "Yellow Jersey" Haynes at 1-37 giving Lavery the Overall GC win by a mere 18 seconds.


There was some superb riding from Lavery's team-mates especially Conor McAllister from Glenarm who sacrificed his chances for a podium placing with his intelligent riding. He only needed to gain 2 seconds to move into third place overall but refused to help the chase thus giving Lavery every chance of overall success.

Ulster team rider-manager Ryan Connor, a triple winner of this race, was delighted with the result. "This was an overall team effort and the tactics worked to perfection. Tommy Wilson was appointed manager for the race as I was riding and he did a superb job. All the lads, Conor McAllister, Jonny Cole and Simon Williams played their part and we couldn't have achieved this result without them."


Sorry Simon, I know you had to catch the boat but Tommy is a poor stand-in!! Marian

Connor went on to thank the David McCall Cycling Foundation established in memory of the Lisburn rider who was killed tragically during a cycle race at Nutts Corner last year and Slane Cycles,Belfast who backed the team.

Philip Lavery spoke in praise of the race at the finish. He said,"It was a fantastic event and the marshalls who turned out in the cold and wet were brilliant. We have been treated so well by the organisers, race officials and commissaires. It is easy to get on your bike and ride but a Stage Race requires a huge committment by so many people that the riders don't even know about. What makes this race so special is the involvement of the PSNI. They are so professional and as a rider I always feel safe when they come to overtake the bunch. These guys know what they are doing. The rolling road closure is fantastic. Many thanks to all the motorbike guys out there over the past few days, both PSNI and civilian."


Report Tommy Lamb
Pics Marian Lamb

RESULTS: Tour of the North Stage 4 - Ballymena - Glens of Antrim
1. Dean Windsor (Rapha Condor) 2-44-09
2. Philip Lavery (Cycling Ulster-David McCall Foundation-Slane Cycles) ST
3. Matt Cronshaw (Rapha Condor) @ 1-37
4. Frazer Duncan (Eurocycles)
5. Jack Pullar (Herbalife -Wheelbase)
6. Andrew Hawdon (Herbalife - Wheelbase)
7. John Neill (Phoenix CC)
8. David Murdoch (East Kilbride RC)
9. Richard Bott (Herbalife - Wheelbase)
10. Leo McAllister (Ballymena - Scott Tiles) all ST


Final Overall General Classification
1. Philip Lavery (Cycling Ulster-David McCall Foundation-Slane Cycles) 9-04-01
2. Hamish Haynes (VC Ecosse) @ 18"
3. Tom Last (Sigma Sport) @24"
4. Conor McAllister (Cycling Ulster-David McCall Foundation-Slane Cycles) @ 26"
5. Dean Windsor (Rapha Condor) @ 30"
6.Niki Devoldere (Decock Sportivo) @ 33"
7. Dean Downing (Rapha Condor) @ 1' 44"
8. Adam Armstrong (Eurocycles) @ 2' 05"
9. Ben Greenwood (Rapha Condor) @2' 20"
10. Ward Vandermeiren (Decock Sportivo) @ 2' 26"


AA King of the Hills
1. Martyn Irvine (Planet X)
2. Philip Lavery (Cycling Ulster-David McCall Foundation-Slane Cycles)
3. Glenn Kinning (East Antrim - Audi)