“Who lives in a house like this” a picturesque surrounding for a classic race at the shores of Bangor-Donaghadee in County Down

Not many times I have the luxury of a short journey on a Sunday and yesterday as one of them. Living in the next town of Newtownards has his plus points and a race I won’t miss if I can help it. This time I was invited by the promoters North Down CC to do the MC job at their 2019 Haldane Fisher’s North Down GP, a very popular race in the cycling fraternity that always attracts top riders from all corners of the land. The HQ was in Donaghadee near the lighthouse and a few km from the start on the road to Bangor (Orlock) A great buzz already greeted me, a full field for the main race, even the A4-Masters-Ladies race had a decent turnout and this so late in the summer is unusual for this category.

When you arrive and get welcomed by such smiles, you know it gonna be a good day…mazeltoff

Ok, let us go the race himself…The A1-2-3 race was set off first followed by the A4 & Masters 2 minutes later, both a rolling start with a circuit who was about 12km long and had a climb each of the 8 laps (A race) and 6 laps for the B race. There was also a wee drag towards the finish in Orlock so in many ways a demanding course at the shores of the Belfast Lough of the Irish Sea. From the first lap, attacks happened and soon the main players showed their faces upfront…a break of John Buller (Bioracer-DHL-FR), Donal Shearer (Phoenix CC) and Darnell Moore (Caldwell Cycles) with some impressive chase groups forming behind them was seen when the passed the line for the first time, soon it became 6 upfront with another few close by (all in the same minute) Cian Keogh (Ciclotel Travel fueled by YPB) was in the second group of chasers and his efforts to get to the front which eventually happened got him at the prize-giving the “Combattivity reward” He had the company of Liam Curley (Strata3-Velo Revolution) and continental pro Chris McGlinchey (Vitus Pro Cycling) and the winning break was formed. They kept at it and despite some serious efforts of the next groups on the road who had lads such as Lindsay Watson (Powerhouse Sport) Marc Potts (U/A) yesterday’s Madigan GP winner Adam Ward (Bioracer-DHL-FR) Gareth O’Neill (Newry Wheelers) Alan Bingham (Newry Wheelers) and local junior Nathan Keown (North Down CC) they couldn’t breach the gap. They never got more than a minute to regain towards the front but just didn’t make it as the front group was motoring and you need to go faster than them to close the gap, this is very difficult with the headwind at the finish straight of the course. The six upfront went into the last lap and a sprint to the line was on the cards. John Buller had the better of Darnell Moore this time, John is known for his explosive sprints as he proved already earlier this season in the “Teggart Classic” Liam Curley a respectable 3rd (Full results below)

The A1-2-3 & Juniors result (top 12)
1. John Buller Bioracer-DHL-FR Services
2. Darnell Moore Caldwell Cycles
3. Liam Curley Strata 3-VeloRevolution
4. Cian Keogh Ciclotel Travel
5. Donal Shearer Phoenix CC
6. Christopher McGlinchey Vitus Pro Cycling
7. Lindsay Watson Powerhouse Sport
8. Marc Potts U/A Ulster
9. Adam Ward Bioracer-DHL-FR
10. Gareth O’Neill Newry Wheelers
11. Alan Bingham Newry Wheelers
12. Nathan Keown North Down CC (First Junior & Unplaced A2)

Unplaced A3
Peter McLean Ards Cycling Club
The A4-Masters result
Local man Johnny Webb (NDCC) winning the sprint as master, second in the sprint Niall Brown (Ards CC) awarded the A4 win as Johnny was in the Master’s combined race.
The race stayed together for the duration and more a battle to win the primes and KOH coloured the race

A4 Race
1. Niall Brown Ards Cycling Club
2. Garrett Greene Velo Cafe Magasin
3. Barry Mitchell Ards Cycling Club (KOH winner)
4. Kevin Walker Dromara Cycling Club
5. Brian Robert TVR
6. Stephen Maguire Square Wheelers
7. Conor McGrane Velo Club Balrothery (Combative prize winner)
8. Gediminas Skirmantas Newry Wheelers
Masters Race
1. Johnny Webb North Down CC
2. Trevor Nixon Phoenix CC
3. Dwyer O’Neill Armagh City (Prime overall winner) Leading women: Grace Smith (Ballymena RC)

The Tea ladies and would we call that “The Tea man” in the back. You never go hungry at our races and certainly the display of sarnies and homemade goodies appreciated by all involved!! Thank you
No wonder I am overweight ..lol

This feast is free for each competitor and his supporters…in my homeland, you pay for such things what makes Irish racing different and special
A thank you also to North Down for the invite to help out at the finish line as MC and the donation toward the project, already a bursary sponsor and this very helpful for my travels in the next weeks. A job well done to race organisers Sam Carson and Philip Dickenson and their army of volunteers. Well marshalled, plenty of lead cars and lead motorcycles, finish line crew who controlled the traffic very well and controlled by the commissaire’s on duty (see photo below) Also giving Ian Barfoot a mention as chief judge and photo finish line operator who provided us with correct results within a 1/2 hour of racing. And last but not least a big thank you to the sponsors Haldane Fisher as named main sponsor, the Gentlemen of the Peloton and Apex (both cycling apparel providers) Brownfield cycle repairs Bangor, Harbour Company Donaghadee and Agnew Volkswagon and supported by CI and CU as federations.

Some photo’s I took before, during and after
The view from Donaghadee Harbour..well worth a visit
Sponsor Ray Brownfield
Thank’s lads for making the journey from Dublin
Haldane Fisher well-promoted yesterday…and deservedly so
Drew Mc Kinley and Caroline Wade two well-known figures in our sport
Ships heading to Belfast
Johnny Webb pleased as punch for his win and congratulated by Fiona Kelly from the Velo Wicklow team
Ian Barfoot (photo finish and chief Judge) waiting for the next passage of the riders
3 laps to go according to Dawn Henley
Co-organiser Philip Dickenson at the prize presentation
Grace Smith as the only female to finish the race and rewarded for her efforts…big fan of this girl as her turnaround in her life is amazing when she decided to lose weight and chose the bicycle as chosen exercise …my sincere respect Grace xx
Niall Brown the A4 winner from Ards CC my beloved club
I closed my eyes at final curtains woohoho” comes to mind Philip..lol
Dwyer O’Neill Armagh City Cyclists winning the prime prize
More photos on
(A photo courtesy of Fiona Kelly Velo Wicklow, with thanks)
If any organiser wants to use my MC services at their races please get in contact with me (dany@belgianproject.cc) A small donation to the Belgian Project to cover my travel expenses is welcome and money received get used to keeping the project going and to build funds for the bursaries each year. You also will get a preview and race report after as courtesy.