Paul Crossen on the Tour of Ards
The Tour of Ards is one of the most prestigious races in the local calendar, a one day ‘classic’ race pitting Category 1,2,3 racers together without handicap around the fast rolling roads of the Ards Peninsula. Following his big win at the John Moore Memorial Paul Crossen was upgraded from A4 to A3, and didn’t waste any time getting on the reserve list for the oversubscribed event. Here is how it unfolded for Paul:
After scoring enough points at the John Moore Memorial to get upgraded to A3 I got straight in contact with Ards CC to get added to the reserve list for the Tour of Ards as I was keen to experience road racing along with the A1 & A2 guys. As the week went on I gradually moved up the list and was 2nd by Friday night and confident that I would get a start.
I arrived at St Patrick hall for sign on and there was a great buzz about the place. I got the nod about 10am that I was in and pinned on my numbers ready for the roll out at 10:50.
I surprisingly wasn’t that nervous, partly because I didn’t know what to expect and partly because I wasn’t putting myself under any pressure to get a result – I was just determined to enjoy it.
We rolled out and were neutralised until the flag dropped out on the Portaferry Road and the pace went up straight away! My plan was to sit in and conserve as much energy as possible. For the first 50 miles all was going to plan. It’s quite a sensory overload, watch the wheel in front and try to maintain a 6 inch gap, take gels and water when you can, always try to be moving up the bunch, listen for hazards, call hazards etc etc, oh yes, and ride at 26mph!
The breakaway group of 6 riders was long gone, but as we turned right before Kircubbin for the final leg to the finish the pace went up and the attacks started. I didn’t really want to get involved in a bunch sprint for the line so as a group of about 8 riders attacked and started to open up a gap, I decided to get involved. I bridged the gap and was doing quite a lot of the work on the front so eased off to let some of the others through an take their turn.
A Phoenix rider attacked again and pulled a reasonable gap, no one tried to bring him back and our group settled in a bit. With about 5km to go NDCC’s David Hamilton (A1 winner at John Moore) attacked. I went after him and we rolled through well, so at the 1km to go board we were 8th & 9th but running out of steam. We got absorbed by the bunch before the waterworks and I gave a half hearted sprint to finish about 30th.
All in all a great experience!
Many thanks to Paul for the write up, and a massive well done from all at KCC on showcasing the clubs colours so well at this event. Finally all credit to our neighbours at Ards CC for organising a safe, fast and exciting race.