Tour of North cycle race has strong Ballymena flavour

Pictured at the launch of the Tour of the North cycle race are: L-R David Hamilton (North Down CC), James Curry (Banbridge CC), Joan McCullough (Race Director), Paul Mulligan (Caldwell Cycles) Hall Booth (Ballymena RC).
Pictured at the launch of the Tour of the North cycle race are: L-R David Hamilton (North Down CC), James Curry (Banbridge CC), Joan McCullough (Race Director), Paul Mulligan (Caldwell Cycles) Hall Booth (Ballymena RC).

There will be a strong Ballymena feel to the annual Tour of the North international cycle stage race over the Easter weekend.

The NICF promotions group - headed by Ballymena woman Joan McCullough (race director) - has organised a challenging route comprising of three road races and one time trial.

The stages all start and finish in Ballymena and take in the roads of counties Antrim and Derry/Londonderry. One hundred and ten riders will race almost 200 miles in the three days.

Stage One on Easter Saturday 4th April is a 65 mile loop in the Glens of Antrim with four King of the Hills primes.

Easter Sunday begins with a 4 mile individual time trial in the morning which should see a further sort out of the general classification. In the afternoon Stage 3 is a 63 miles road race based on an eleven mile circuit between Ballymena and Randalstown.

The final stage on Easter Monday is the longest of the weekend at 70 miles (113 kms) and it takes the riders on a loop around Co Derry/Londonderry including 2 major climbs at Springwell and Cam Forest.

The race does not have a head line sponsor but it has secured backing from cycle clothing company Powerhouse sport and Ballymena Borough Council.

The start list includes teams from the UK, Ireland France and Holland, who will be competing with local riders for the coveted yellow jersey.