CRC Vitus Road Race Team at Tour of the North 2012

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012 2:45pm
Category: Road

Team Manager Nigel Elder reports…

"The Tour of the North is the premier stage race in Northern Ireland and comprises of four stages which are held throughout the North of Ireland taking in many of the areas of natural outstanding beauty that the Emerald Isle has become famous for.

This race has been attracting a lot of interest from European and British teams over the last few years and this year was no different. With teams such as Rapha Condor Sharp, SWABO Cycling Team, Node4-Giordana, WTOS Delft and Team Bglobal to name but a few it was obvious that this was going to be a hard race from the offset. What follows is a brief account on how the Chain Reaction Cycles Road Race Team performed over each stage!

Stage 1 – Prologue – Stormont
As usual the first stage was a prologue held in the venue of Stormont in Belfast. Race distance for this stage was .75miles/1.21km which runs up the main entrance to Stormont buildings.

This stage favoured those with explosive power and the ability to maintain an all out effort for two minutes, many started off like rockets only to start flagging on the ascent to the finish line.

This was a fantastic stage for the Chain Reaction Cycles/Vitus Road Race Team with team rider Jason Henry storming the opposition to take fourth place with a time of 1í52î.57 which placed him ahead of stiff competition from riders such as James Moss, Felix English, Peter Hawkins and David McCann to name but a few!
Jason stormed the prologue stage, finishing in fourth place! Great job.
Jason stormed the prologue stage, finishing in fourth place! Great job

The remaining team riders put in strong performances too which led to us finishing in sixth place overall in the team standings.


Stage 2 – Rathfriland – Rathfriland
Following yesterdayís prologue it was time to get down to business with stage 2 featuring some of the toughest climbs in the 2012 ToN. With the race distance for this stage set at 72.5miles/116.8km it was going to be a day that would favour the climbers.
Conor on his way up one of the steep climbs during stage 2
Conor on his way up one of the steep climbs during stage 2

As expected the race was on from the offset with attacks coming thick and fast resulting in a 16 man break getting away early in the race with featured Chain Reaction Cycles/Vitus Team Captain Conor McAllister who was showing fine form. At the first KOM on Spelga Conor led an attack and managed to secure second place and some valuable points in the AA King of the hills.
Leo pushes through the pain barrier on stage 2
Leo pushes through the pain barrier on stage 2


The race was split apart over this Cat 1 climb with several groups forming on the descent with our team riders split between these groups. The pace was kept high and the lead group managed to maintain the gap until the closing miles of the race when the chasing group made contact. An uphill finish into the town of Rathfriland made for a tough end to a hard day of racing with Conor finishing in 15th place. Strong performances from Leo, Jason, Gareth, Kyle and Chris saw them finish in the chasing group.

Stage 3 – Magherafelt
This stage held the promise of high speeds and close racing due to the topography of the course which featured one Cat 2 climb over Lough Fea on a loop of the circuit that was completed twice before heading back to the finish in Magherafelt.

The pace was set high from the start with strong side winds leading to echelons forming across the road. Several attacks led to a nine man break getting away from the main peloton but unfortunately our team riders missed the break. There were several attempts to bridge the gap by numerous groups with team rider Leo McAllister featuring in one of the early attempts without success.
Gareth in the pack on stage 3
Gareth in the pack on stage 3

The race played out with the break maintaining a gap hovering around the 55 second mark and the remaining field of riders being split over the Cat 2 climb. Several crashes led to further splits in the field presenting the break with an ideal opportunity of staying free of the chasing group.
Kyle, Chris, Gareth and Jason powering through during stage 3
Kyle, Chris, Gareth and Jason powering through during stage 3

Due to missing the early break and being caught behind some of the crashes this proved to be a trying day for the team with Conor being the highest placed team rider finishing in 31st place.

The remaining team riders once again maintained a strong performance to finish in the chasing group.

Stage 4 – Broughshane
The final stage of the 2012 Tour of the North was set along the scenic backdrops of the Glens of Antrim and the North Antrim Coast taking in many of the ascents and descents. Todayís stage featured 3 categorised climbs that would test the legs of all riders and break the will of more than a few!
Leo and Conor talk tactics before the final stage
Leo and Conor talk tactics before the final stage

From the start in Broughshane the course set off over what should have been a listed Cat 3 climb which saw relentless attacks, blowing the race apart with an 11 man break getting away within the first three miles of the race. The remaining riders were scattered amongst three main groups with Team Captain Conor McAllister and his brother Leo being well placed in the second group. Strong rides by Gareth and Jason over the Cat 2 climb of Shanes Hill saw them just off the back of the main bunch. Both riders descended at speeds in excess of 53mph in an attempt to get onto the bunch but came up short as the bunch started the climb out of Kilwaughter.

The main break pulled out a gap of 1í35î which was being closed down fast by the chasing group containing Conor and Leo. By the time the race had reached the third categorised climb the gap was fast being pulled back. The Cat 1 climb over Glenariff saw the chasing group split with Conor driving at the front of the group in an effort to close the gap on the leaders.

With the gap now sitting at 40 seconds, the chasing group worked to put in a fantastic effort to reduce the deficit eventually making contact with the lead group with seven miles to go!
Gareth and Kyle try to chase the pack ahead
Gareth and Kyle try to chase the pack ahead


The cat and mouse began with several attacks being launched in a bid for glory. On the run through Broughshane towards the finish Conor managed to break free of the main bunch only to be reeled in by the chasing group in the last 250 metres of the race before the finish line!

Conor lost out on the sprint to the finish but still managed to hang in to finish in 15th place which raised his position in GC to an impressive 11th overall.

The rest of the team filtered in with the remaining groups with only veteran rider Chris McCann abandoning the stage.

This was the first stage race for the Chain Reaction Cycles/Vitus Road Race Team and has proven a success with the team and individual riders featuring well in each stage with great results and a constant presence in the breaks and chasing groups.

I would personally like to thank each team rider for the fantastic performances they have put in, they have excelled themselves against some fierce competition and are a shining example of what we at Chain Reaction Cycles Vitus are all about.

I would like to give further thanks to our official race partners Zipvit Sports and Dennison Commercial, the support they provide is an essential piece of the puzzle and is greatly appreciated by everyone at Chain Reaction Cycles Vitus."

Photos courtesy of:
Nigel Elder
Darren Crawford
John McLaughlin
Chain Reaction Cycles Vitus official race partners:
Vitus Bikes
Zipvit Sports
Dennison Commercial
Oneten Apparel
Uvex Helmets

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