<Race report prepared by James McFarlane (Team Manager). Photos courtesy of Dany Blondeel (The Belgian Project) and Sharon McFarland.>
Ards Cycling Club A4 and Master Category riders saw action in the 2017 Spar Tour of Omagh 3 Day stage race over the weekend 28th to 30th July.
This race was the 3rd in a series of stage races where the Club participation was generously backed by Holywood development company “Wirefox”, and supported by club sponsor CRC, providing race food supplements, energy drinks and gels.
This was another hugely successful weekend for the club as they continue the resurgence of “open” road racing.
The team of five riders, Chris Lappin, Richard Hanna, Roman Sarvas, Andrew Jess and Willy Gill, and two support drivers Dean Bradley and James McFarlane, gelled well and gained vital experience that will be invaluable in future events.
The testing County Tyrone terrain, combined with horrendous weather made racing tough for all concerned, and there can be no questioning the riders’ commitment and ability.
Stage 1 produced a bunch finish with our man Chris Lappin leading out the sprint early and crossing the line in an excellent 4th place, with the remainder of the team rolling home safely with the main peloton.
Stage 2 was a 2.5 mile out and back time trial, with weather conditions atrocious! Considering the lads early start position, all returned very respectable times. Noteworthy however were performances from Chris and Richard which saw them well placed on GC entering the next stage.
Stage 3 proved very demanding. 46 miles, 2 KOH’s and the worst imaginable weather! Luck deserted the squad, and mechanical issues, and crashing meant the squad fell somewhat down the Team classification. Chris and Willy avoided the spills and finished comfortably with the main field. Thankfully the others finished safely, and were still thinking positively about next day’s final stage.
Stage 4 on paper promised to be the toughest of the race, with a steep 3 mile ascent at Gortin to tackle 10 miles from the finish. It didn’t disappoint, but again the weather made the going tough. The descent to the finish would be treacherous. Chris was very active from the start and established an advantage in the early miles. Unable to gather allies willing to build an attack on the race leader, he was forced to return to the shelter of the main peloton. Not known for his love of the hills, he battled relentlessly and was the first of the Ards men to crest the final KOH. He mastered the slippery descent well and was our best finisher in each of the race stages.
Full race results and pictures can be viewed here.