Cycling Ulster had men’s and women’s teams taking part in last week’s Chestnut Homes Lincoln GP.
The men’s team had a well balanced mix of experience and youth and some quality racing in their legs from the Tour of the North and the Tour of Ulster. Lindsay Watson from Team Powerhouse, this year’s winner of the Tour of Ards, Darnell Moore of Team Caldwell Cycles and winner of the Wallace Caldwell, Gareth O’Neill Newry Wheelers and winner of the the 2019 Carn Classic, U23’s were the exciting talents of James Curry Dan Morrissey and Donal Shearer Phoenix CC. The team was looked after by Maurice McAllister, Stuart Laverty and Steven McAllister.
With the quality of the Ulster Team heading to the Lincoln GP it was discussed and agreed that these lads were there to race and a top 10 for a few of them was very achievable, the race started in the city square above the infamous yet spectacular Michaelgate climb with its 15% inclines.
The first mile was neutralised and as the flag was dropped, the hurtling riders had only travelled a few hundred metres when in the middle of the bunch a touch of wheels saw upwards of 30 riders hit the road. Shearer went down hard and despite gallant efforts to make his way onto the back of a bunch travelling at 33mph, the talented and very disappointed Phoenix lad had to settle for riding round. O’Neill was also caught in the melee at the start but after very determined riding he clawed his way onto the now breaking up peleton.
In the mix with the best in the UK were Lindsay, Darnell and James. With selection for the Tour of Britain up for grabs for the British pro teams, the pace was frantic and the numerous attempts to escape the bunch never reached the minute mark but it was pulled back and then another salvo of attacks would go. The display by the Ulster riders was highly commendable and the tough racing like the Tours of the North and Ulster stood them in good stead as this standard of racing is essential for the riders progression and being able to compete in international events.
Thirteen times up the crowded Michaelgate climb along with the shouts of encouragement from Ulster supporters around the course spurred everyone on. Watson, Moore and Curryfinished 39th, 51st and 65th respectively. O’Neill and Shearer rode until they were eliminated for being more than five minutes behind the race leaders.
Men’s Team Manager Maurice McAllister said:
“I want to applaud the entire team for their effort and their attitudes, these races are what makes our riders and brings out their potential. We just need to make sure that our home events are of a good distance and standard so that the Ulster jersey is competitive in these types of events.”
The Women’s Team comprised of former Irish national time trial champion, Eileen Burns, Irish international, Katharine Smyth and Laura Blair. Unfortunately Blair was caught up behind a crash on the main climb of the race which forced her out of contention.
Smyth and Burns put in a strong performance, staying in contention until the final stages and climb to the finish, eventually finishing 42nd and 46th respectively.
The Women’s Team was supported by Josh Murray and Jason Burns.