The Tour of Ards was due to take place today, but unfortunately had to be cancelled. To help fill the gap, here are some photos from earlier years and a list of the top three from the first 21 editions put together by former club press officer John Savage. If you’ve any more pictures or stories, please share them on Facebook.
The original Tour of Ards course took the riders from Newtownards to Bangor and round the ring road – hard to believe now! Here, the bunch has just passed Conlig, and is been blown into an echelon in the outside lane by a strong westerly wind. Third rider from the front is Raphael Kimmage (Tara RC), who was joint winner with Pat McGibbon (Lurgan) in 1981. Raphael’s older brother Paul would win the following year, and go on to ride the Tour de France before becoming an award winning journalist and author.
In this photo from the late 1980s, Alastair Martin (Lee Ards) takes over at the front from Jim McGowan (Cyprus Heatco). Coming through next on Alastair’s right shoulder is a young Conor Henry (Phoenix), who would go on to win the British Milk Race in 1992. And behind Conor is Newry Wheelers legend Barry Monaghan.
Joe Barr (Cyprus Heatco) leads the break on the climb between Cloghy and Portaferry, from Seamus Downey (Banbridge) and Jimmy McQuillan (also Cyprus Heatco). Joe won multiple Irish championships, and continued to excel in endurance events well into his 50s. Seamus rode for Ireland at the Olympics in Los Angeles, and his sons Sean and Mark have both excelled in the sport. And Jimmy would go on to win classic events throughout Ireland.
Joe Barr takes the win alone in 1984
Behind Joe, B. O’Callaghan from the top Dublin squad ACE-Rosengrens takes the sprint for second from Seamus Downey.
The bunch sprint from 1984. Alastair Irvine (North Down) leads from Ian Chivers (Cyprus Heatco), with Brendan Kirk on his wheel taking the first Ards CC rider award. Alastair Irvine would go on to win 2 bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games, and Ian Chivers would later win the 9-day Ras.