Unfortunately for the riders of the Tour of the North day 3 had more of the same gusting winds and driving rain. It was a double stage day with a short but sharp 5 mile TT in the morning finishing atop the Mountain Rd. climb. There was little shake up in eth GC following the TT which was won by the dominant Yellow jersey Ed Clements of Spirit Bike to extend his lead over Declan Mulholland of ASEA Wheelworx.
The afternoon stage seen the riders take on another tough road stage over a 66 mile route. Banbridge CC’s James Curry had an unfortunate start with a mechanical issue which resulted in his rear derailleur becoming detached. A quick bike change from the team car and an effort to move back up the race cavalcade would soon see him re-join the main bunch. The side winds once again played havoc on the bunch and many riders were losing ground on the leading bunch. Matt Adair was caught on the wrong side of a split, but used the KOH at Scrabo to gain ground on the main bunch and was able to regain contact after a brave ride.
Gareth McKee showed great recovery after a tough stage two where he struggled with the wet and cold and was determined to make up for it today, and did so by being in the break of the day from its inception using the KOH 28 miles into the stage as a springboard to launch the attack. He was joined by Ryan Reilly of the Belgian Project and Darnell Moore of Caldwell Cycles. The trio worked well together and gained almost a minutes advantage in the closing miles of the stage, however they were caught by a hard working chase group of 6 riders containing Peter Anderson from East Kilbride. The Englishman used a lull in activity within the new combined group and took a solo flyer. Indecisiveness behind would see him quickly open a substantial gap and he wouldn't be seen again allowing him to win the 4th stage of the race.
Sensing the risk of the main peloton regaining contact with the remnants of the breakaway McKee worked with his fellow escapees to stay clear to the finish in Donaghadee, but the Banbridge CC man still had some energy in reserve to claim an excellent 3rd in the sprint and 4th on the stage. Lindsay Watson finished safely in the main bunch alongside Adair and Curry, both who had a difficult start to the day.
Tomorrow’s stage 5 will conclude the race and the lads will be determined to leave their mark. The tough hill-top finish will suit the Banbridge lads but they are unlikely to leave it that late and will be determined to be in the breaks of the day once again. The stage starts at Bangor Rugby Club, Bloomfield Road at 11am. The 78 miles route travels to Comber via the six road ends, four road ends and Newtowards. At Comber the race does four laps of a hilly loop around Whiterock, Killinchy, Balloo, Lisbane and Ballydrain. The stage ends with a return to Newtownards and the testing climb up Bradshaws brae and the Holywood road to Craigantlet. This tough finish will ensure that the race has an exciting climax as the last two miles could see changes in the overall classification.
Stage 3 results in brief:
1 Clemens, Ed Spirit Bikes 9m57.86s
2 Delaney, Cian Stamullan Road Club @13.84s
3 Johnston, Harry Pro Vision Team @16.90s
22 Curry, James Banbridge CC @45.75s
23 Watson, Lindsay Banbridge CC @48.53s
33 McKee, Gareth Banbridge CC @59.29s
43 Adair, Matthew Banbridge CC @1m07.68s
Stage 4 results in brief:
1 Anderson, Peter East Kilbride RC 2h29m11s
2 Hales, Jake Spirit Bikes @1m50s
3 Joughin, Ben Kinning Cycles @ s/t
4 McKee, Gareth Banbridge CC @ s/t
20 Watson, Lindsay Banbridge CC @2m12s
51 Adair, Matthew Banbridge CC @ s/t
56 Curry, James Banbridge CC @ s/t
General Classification following stage 4:
1 Clemens, Ed Spirit Bikes 7h02m46s
2 Hales, Jake Spirit Bikes @1m28s
3 Watson, Dave North Down CC @1m35s
16 Watson, Lindsay Banbridge CC @6m10s
22 McKee, Gareth Banbridge CC @8m02s
37 Curry, James Banbridge CC @10m08s
53 Adair, Matthew Banbridge CC @12m09s