Rupert Graham of English favourites, Spirit Tifosi has taken the final stage of the Dixon’s Tour of the North Cycle Race. In doing so he has also claimed the overall win, overtaking his nearest rivals with a late surge to the line.
Stage 4 of the Dixon’s Tour of the North was subject to a last minute course change due to snow over the higher ground on the original route. It was back to yesterday’s course around Roguery with the weather more predictable here. Five laps of undulating terrain, sleet, snow and wind faced the hardened souls who rolled out of HQ. This was to be every bit as stern a test as yesterday with bodies everywhere after the fiery couple of laps.
Early on, a group of nine pushed clear on the first climb, Whitesides and they would hold on all the way to the line. This group contained all of the top contenders with the exception of Jack Stanton who unfortunately had a spill when turning onto the fastest stretch of the course. He regathered himself but the damage was done and with nobody willing to ride, the game was up. The break pushed further ahead, gaining over 6.45 over the nearest group on the road.
Once the break was established they forged on, with constant attacks coming from Lindsay Watson (Powerhouse) and Darnell Morore (Caldwell), both of whom were just seconds from the yellow Jersey. Ben Joughin (Pro Vision) and Cian Delaney (Stamullen) were also active, pulling on the front to keep the break going.
Towards the end of the penultimate lap, Rupert Graham (Spirit Tifosi), Lindsay Watson (Powerhouse) and Ed Clemens (Spirit Tifosi) pushed clear which forced a frantic chase behind with Watson gaining the points to take the KOH overall.
Watson had a mechanical on the descent from Roguery which left two out front. Darragh McCarter (Donegal Bay) hit out to chase and he was closely followed by the ever active Ben Joughin (Pro Vision). McCarter and Graham pushed on, holding a 30 second lead over the fast approaching Joughin. McCarter had the misfortune of a puncture which left Graham on his own to solo home for the stage and the overall. Joughin held on for second place, nearly two minutes back with Cycling Ireland’s Connor Gallagher who gave the rest the slip on the descent to the line, completing the podium.
The remainder of the break was led home by McCarter who had the ride of the day, coming back from a wheel change to catch and pass the group for 4th. Clemens, Burnett, Watson, Moore, Delaney and Ballesterlloberas completed the top 10 on the day.
Ex Rower Burnett who had been cycling for just a year took overall honours from team mate Marcus Burnett with Darnell Moore in 3rd.
Burnett also took home the u23 young riders Jersey which he held from start to finish.
Lindsay Watson finished a productive weekend with the KOH Jersey as well as a 4th placed finish.
Spirit Tifosi completed a successfully weekend with best overall team.
After a brutal weekend of racing, only 61riders finished what was one of the toughest editions in many years.