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M. Donnelly Junior Tour of Ireland - NE
Ireland, August 3-8, 2004
Stage 1 - August 3: Portlaw Prologue ITT, 1 mile
Dutch cross-man crosses over
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent
The setting for stage one of the M Donnelly Junior Tour last evening was Portlaw, 10 miles from Waterford. It was a pioneer village built by the Quaker Malcolmsons for the workers of their cotton-spinning mills (1825-1904), but last evening it was the sound of bicycles and 85 fit young junior cyclists who pitted themselves against the clock, which now a days is called a time trial or for the aficionados of the sport 'the race of truth.'
Thijs van Amerongen from the Tempo BMV set the fastest time when he recorded a time 2 minutes 41.33 seconds for the one mile test which included a fairly stiff ascent up Church Hill before the finish on the outskirts of the town.
According to his mentors, Thijs is more comfortable participating in cyclo-cross, but yesterday on a damp evening he showed that he was quiet capable of dislodging the more fancied candidates for the tt.
Of course the Dutch who have been regulars to the JT felt it incumbent that they assert their authority early on, after all they won last years race with Kai Reus who went on to win the World Junior Championship in Canada last year. Their ace in the pack as far they were concerned was Robert Gesink who is the Dutch national champion in time trialling, but, at a longer distance.
Yesterday's evening test was an all out effort and it was Amerongen who had the power, pace and resilience to deliver the goods when it matter most and also when the elements were far from perfect.
Those out of the stage house early on were fortunate that conditions were ideal, but at the mid-point, the weather became overcast and drizzly which necessitated care on the greasy road surface and here it was that the cyclo-cross techniques proved beneficial to the worthy stage winner.
Three seconds off the pace setter who many regard as the one to watch is Daniel Martin, who incidentally is the nephew of Stephen Roche and a cousin of Nicholas Roche who had the unique distinction of leading from pillar to post in the 2003 edition.
Daniel is the recently crowned English Junior Champion, which he won in convincing fashion two weeks ago.
In third place is the French participant Gweneal Conte who is 8 seconds adrift of the leader who like the leading pair will be guaranteed team support when stage two gets under way in Clonmel today at mid-day.
Best of the Irish is Maurice O'Brien the Junior Champion from Kanturk and Mark Nestor who broke the three-minute barrier for the test.
Today's stage which takes in the "Vee" will certainly be a defining moment as the ascent to the summit is over 5 miles and should in theory give an indication as to how the event will pan out over the next four days.
Also, in so far as a near major hiccup for the entire 10 participants from South Africa was narrowly averted when with 15 minutes before the start of the tt, it was discovered that there will still in Waterford and had not been picked up to be brought to the start. Frantic calls were made and a magnanimous gesture by the college of commissaries ruled that it was out of their control and were permitted without penalty to go off at the end of the time trial.
1 Thijs van Amerongen (Holland) 2.41.33 2 D. Martin (Great Britain) 0.02.98 3 G. Conte (France) 0.07.14 4 R. Gesink (Holland) 0.07.41 5 R. Muscat (France) 0.10.51 6 A. Tennant (BC West Midlands) 0.11.87 6 A. Armstrong (Ulster)