Watson holds off McLaughlin to claim Foyle G.P. victory

Foyle Grand Prix winner, David Watson, crosses the finsihing line.

Foyle Grand Prix winner, David Watson, crosses the finsihing line.

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North Down cyclist David Watson held off a strong challenge from Foyle C.C.’s Ronan McLaughlin to claim victory at last Sunday’s Foyle G.P. which saw almost 150 riders competing along the challenging road circuit.

Following an overnight deluge, warm sun the competitors who travelled as far as from Belfast, Newry, Donegal and Dublin. The first race to hit the road was the A*,A1,A2 and A3 race which saw six laps of the rolling cross-border 11-mile course. Each lap saw the riders tackle Carrigan’s Brea, coming back to the start via Nixon’s corner and almost from the off, there was a four-man breakaway which was never caught with McLaughlin, Watson, Caldwell Cycles’ Darnell Moore and Des Woods (Newry Wheelers) working hard together until Woods was dropped on the third lap.

Foyle CC's Ronan McLaughlin holds of Caldwell Cycles' Darnell Moore to claim second spot in last week's Foyle C.C.

Foyle CC's Ronan McLaughlin holds of Caldwell Cycles' Darnell Moore to claim second spot in last week's Foyle C.C.

“A chasing Group of 11 came to within 13 seconds of the break on the last lap and we had to ride ‘full gas’ for the whole lap to stay away,” explained McLaughlin, “This meant there was no chance to attack each other - I tried to go early on the last hills into Killea but Watson came straight up to me and passed me. With the last lap being so hard and a headwind the whole way to the finish, it was always going to be hard to get away for the win. I was happy to get second.”

The sprint for minor positions saw Keith Philips (NDCC) take fourth from Woods who was followed up in 6th by Matthew Brennan (Ballymena RC). Daniel Logue from Culmore was the highest unplaced Foyle rider.

The 65 entrants to the A4 support race were released five minutes after the main race start with the pace no less furious, the first lap was averaging just under 25mph!

That settled with a bunch finish into Killea on the cards until two successive crashes upset the order within the last 500m. Thankfully no serious injuries were reported and those that made their way around the crashes sprinted for the line with the race being won by Tony O’Doherty (Carn Wheelers) followed by Adam Leech (North Down CC), Conor Devlin (Island Wheelers) and, in fourth, Alan Campbell (NWCC). Sean Nash was the highest unplaced Foyle Rider in a very creditable 8th.

The Masters race saw the 50+ age group riders take on three laps of the course as did the ladies race. Ballyarnet resident Jim Doyle was unlucky to puncture in the second lap leaving Noel Boyce (NDCC) the victor ofrom Russell Young (Bann Wheelers) and Jim Donnelly (Foyle CC).

The ladies race offered another victory for Bann Wheelers as Jane Millar rode away from Trudy Brown (VC Glendale) and Carn Wheelers rider Mairead McGurk.

Foyle C.C. is now looking forward to the forthcoming Ulster 25 mile Time Trial Championship at Burt on August 30th and the Ulster Road Race Championships at Eglinton on September 13th.

In addition the club’s annual charity event, ‘The Inishowen 100’ takes place on Sunday, August 16th with 100 mile and 100 kilometre routes on offer.

The local club took the opportunity to pay tribute to the marshals, catering volunteers, Killea FC, the PSNI and Garda Siochana and all the competitors for ensuring the continuing success and growth of Foyle GP.