Tour of the North this weekend

Shaun Oneill


Shaun Oneill


THE Tour of the North cycle race comes to town this weekend.

Base for the event is Gracehill and Galgorm Community Centre, with the first of the action this Saturday.

Stage 1, 2 and 4 start at Galgorm; Stage 3 starts at Portglenone Forest.

There will be a few big teams racing in the Tour.

These include - Ribble Pro Cycling, Zappi Racing Team, and Nicholas Roche Performance Team

Stage 1 gets underway at 11.45am on Saturday..

It will be neutralised until they reach Killyless crossroads. This starts the race with 5 laps of a 21km circuit.

There are 4 KOM’s all on the Hiltonstown Road, (The Horseshoe).

At the top of the hill on the 5th lap the race turns right for a fast decent to the finish on the Fenaghy Road adjacent to Wright’s Coachworks.

Stage 2 on Sunday morning is a non area Time Trial - a 6.2k test starting at the entrance to Portglenone Forest and straight up the famous climb of Tully Hill before a flat and fast run to the finish just outside Ahoghill.

Stage 3 - No real surprises with this one.

It is a fabulous spectator stage and a challenging one for the riders.

The Roguery circuit will be over 5 laps, totalling 105km with almost 700m of climbing.

After 5 laps the race will then drop down off Kilnock for a fast run in to the finish at Maine Bridge at Slaght.

The crowds every year on the Roguery climb are huge and are always appreciated by the riders as they ascend the 15% hill.

Stage 4 - Only 105km long but the hardest 105km they have ever came up with.

The first Cat 1 comes at Crossslieve or the Layde as it is known locally. It’s a tough steep 4k climb between Cushendall and Cushendun.

Only a couple of kilometres later and it is on to the monster that is Torr Head - 10k of savage roads up to and probably over 20% in places it hasn’t been raced over since 1990.

The Torr is made up of 4 very steep climbs which have technical descents between each one.

Then down towards Ballycastle before turning up the 10k climb of Loughareema.

Long but not steep, over the top the riders will descend toward Cushendall before turning right up the final climb of the day of Gaults Road.

A steady gradient for 5k makes for a tough climb. Gaults is a road exposed to the elements so any wind and it can be a big challenge.

That is the last of the climbing as the race drops down to an old favourite finish on the Fry’s road in Ballymena. Whoever wears yellow after this monstrous stage will certainly deserve it!

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