McMaster Wins Classic Ards Race
Bangor man James McMaster (Curran racing) took the biggest win of his career today in the Tour of Ards Classic road race.
The thirty three year old father of two won a four man sprint after 65 miles of fast racing around the Ards Peninsula. Alastair McAuley (Phoenix CC) was a close second with Gary Cranston (Eat Antrim) third and Brian McCrystal (Cuchullain CC) fourth. The main bunch sprint went to Brian Stewart (Phoenix CC) for fifth place, just four seconds after the winner! The break had been one minute ahead with ten miles to go at Kircubbin.
Earlier the 80 riders had started in bright sunshine and raced to Millisle via the four road ends. McMaster was already on the attack after three miles where he held a short lead along with Gary Jeffers (East Tyrone).
At Ballyhalbert the peleton was altogether and it remained so until Portaferry.On leaving Portaferry the race winning break moved clear at approximately half distance (thirty two miles). After the first of two laps of the Lough Doo Circuit the four leaders were thirty seconds ahead. Brian McCrystal who is an international triathlete looked the strongest of the four breakaways but all four men shared the pace making fairly equally.
Their lead peaked at one minute at Kircubbin. On Kircubbin hill with ten miles to the finish Cranston attacked but was chased down quickly. This was surprising as Cranston would have been the most noted sprinter among the four. The breakaway then lost some of its impetus as thoughts of the finish line began to enter their minds.This was risky as from Greyabbey to the finish there are some long straights and the bunch speeds up rapidly when it can view its prey.The hard working break just held on and spectators were treated to a thrilling finish. McMaster crossed the line first to win the coveted Tommy Brown Memorial Trophy.
This was a well deserved win for James who has been placed in the top three in the Ards CC race twice in recent years. McMaster was ecstatic to win and said "Its just great to win a race like the Tour of Ards with its rich history. There are certain races like this one, the Wallace Caldwell and the Red Hand Trophy that just mean more to win. I have had some good results but my last open race win was in 1997 when I won the Annaclone race as a junior. I have recently changed my training and gone back to what I used to do, more small ring and fast pedaling stuff. It seems to have paid off. Its hard sometimes mixing my work, family life and training but I have come good this year".
James is also an accomplished off road racer as he won the 1997 'Mountain Bike' Tour of Ulster and Irish junior Cross Country title.
report by Brendan Kirk
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