Before we go to my report of today’s first stage of the International Tour of the North I would like dedicate this report to a good friend we lost today…An iconic volunteer in Irish Cycling for more then 40 years passed away suddenly and a massive loss to his family and the whole cycling fraternity in Ireland. My wife Maggie always talks about Frank when he give her a lift to the Glengesh Mountian Finish in the Ras Donegal..a gentleman she called him and he behalf of the Belgian Project and his supporters my sincere condolences to Frank’s family and his army of friends. Rest in Peace Frank

The International Tour of the North 2019 Stage 1 ..A Ribble affair

Jacob Tipper taking the first stage (Photo Sharon Mc Farland) …more on >>

The International Tour of the North 2019 and Easter is the place to be for us in the Belgian Project…involvement for the last 13 years in this local race and never disappoints. Top Irish amateurs mixed with some GB pro’s and even a Belgian guest rider for NDCC called Sven Demeydts. Kermesse like “lap race” to set of the tour today in summer conditions ( 22 Celcius on the dashboard of my car driving our Spanish Commissaire Mario)

Yo digo que somos un buen equipo Mario … te deseo buenas noches

The race today had high speeds with an average of 44 km an hour, a split of the bunch in the last laps brought 28 riders to the line and won by the Ribble locomotive called Jacob Tipper. Ex-pro and CX star David Montgomery took second while guest riding for Kinnings Cycles and Tifosi GB’s George Clark 3rd. The second group on the line had to give more than a minute away to the winning break but with some hard stages to come things could rapidly change.. Full results courtesy of the timekeepers

I was today not the only Belgian in the village with Sven Demeydts and his lovely partner joining us from my hometown Zeebrugge, a son of my friend Nancy Wisse -Demeydts (we both grew up in this harbour town well know for the wrong reason with “The Free Enterprise disaster ” Sven is guest rider for the NDCC team from Bangor and this is his second TOTN ..the last time was in 2009 when he managed a top 5 in the Sunday stage in Bangor for his then team Decock-Capino who became the top amateur racing team in Belgium, a team Peter Hawkins was involved with for 4 years before he became pro and still seen as the Belgian Project billboard due to being one of the first Belgian Project graduates who made an impact in Belgium. Sven is a renowned MTB-Beach racer and regarded a top player in that discipline of cycling in Europe and also dabbles in Triathlon and some road races as a unattached rider. Welcome to Northern Ireland both.
Peter Hawkins always gonna be a bit special to me…not only for his racing but when I was poorly due to heart problems specially came over to visit me… little things who moved me and make me love this sport so much!
My ex sponsor Powerhouse sport who I always gonna be great full for, involved with a strong team…
5 commissairs and a lady
A captive audience at the managers meeting
My gratitude to the PSNI for their continues supporting the race ..without this crew we wouldn’t have such safe race
My daddy races you know..Johnny Taylor’s wife Angela and kids shouting for Daddyyyyy
The Newry warriors preparing
Carn Wheelers support team
Father and Son Keown…
Be not surprised if this juniors will have something to say this weekend
Two ex-pro’s and team mates (Sean Kelly-An Post) having a chat about their children and wife’s, both fathers now
Tomorrow TT stage stage 2 and Stage 3 ..Happy Easter all
Photo Sharon Mc Farland