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Tommy Brown Memorial Tour of Ards

22 Mar 2014
Tommy Brown Memorial Tour of Ards

Fraser Duncan (Northern Dave Kane Cycles) maintained his great early season form with another win in todays Decathlon sponsored Tour of Ards.

The Bangor man was best of a six man breakaway group, just passing late attacker Daniel Stewart(East Antrim) in the final yards of an aggressive seventy miles race around the Ards Peninsula. Peter Hawkins (Madison Genisis) was third, Conor McConvey (Baku) fourth with, Ronan McLaughlin fifth and former National Champion Mark Kane making an impressive comeback sixth.

The main bunch came in two mins 29 secs later headed by  Marc Potts (CT Tomacc) and Brian Stewart (Phoenix CC).
Earlier a high quality field of 80 riders raced from Newtownards to Carrowdore via the six road ends.

At Carrowdore a strong group of six was leading the main bunch by 45 seconds. In this group were Mark Kane (Northern Dave Kane Cycles), Dave Watson (North Down CC), Alistair McCauley (Phoenix) Peter Hawkins (Madison Genis pro team) Daniel Steward (East Antrim) and veteran rider Des Woods (Newry Wheelers).
Davy Watson punctured and dropped back to the bunch.

Last year’s victor James McMaster (North Down) had punctured before Carrowdore but later rejoined the main bunch.

The leading group was still forty seconds ahead on reaching Cloghey (approx. 20 miles) but a strong chasing group was now detached from the main peleton which was another forty seconds down. In this group of around twelve riders which included Matty Blayney (North Down) Mark Downey (Nicolas Roche Junior Development team) Brian Stewart (Phoenix) and Davy McKnight (TVR).

On reaching Portaferry the riders faced two tough loops of the Mountain Road hill and Lough Doo Road.
At the first ascent of the Mountain Road Climb the break was 50seconds ahead of a bigger chase group including eventual winner Fraser Duncan.

Big changes happened at the front on the first loop back to Mountain road. Fraser Duncan, crossed to the leading group as did Ronan McLoughlin, Conor McConvey and Gary Cranston. During this phase of the race Ali McAuley (Phoenix) and Des Woods (Newry) punctured and dropped back to the chasing group, so this left a new lead group of seven.

This was to be the final selection move and Duncan, Kane, Stewart, Cranston, McLoughlin, McConvey and Hawkins were 1 minute 40 seconds up on the chasing group on the second climb of Mountain Road. The main bunch was now 2 mins 30 in arrears and several small groups also further back.

The seven leaders set a blistering pace on the road from Portaferry back to Newtownards. Cranston punctured and lost his place in the break before Kircubbin and the other six remained together until the final few kilometres when 19 year old Daniel Stewart attacked. His audacious move came agonisingly close to success but the fast finishing Duncan spoiled his day, passing him in the final metres.

Fraser won the Ards tour and the Tommy Brown Memorial Trophy back in 2011. This was his fourth victory of the 2014 season. He is back in his old club, Northern Dave Kane Cycles) as is another former Tour of Ards Adam Armstrong. 

report by Brendan Kirk

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