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Results and Reports from Ireland
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Tour of Ards
Northern Ireland, March 20, 2004
Evans on the comeback trail
By Shane Stokes, irishcycling.com
Tommy Evans (Totalcycling.com) showed he is returning to form after knee surgery when he won the Tour of Ards on Saturday. Run off in brutal weather conditions, the pouring rain and gale force winds caused a large number of riders to crash before the end of the prestigious race.
Lennie Kirk (Ards CC) and Brian Stewart (Usher Irish Road Club) sparked off the aggression when they attacked at Groomsport, early on in the contest. Pushed along by a roaring tailwind, the bunch was at times going at almost 50 mph, clocking up an average of over 30 miles in the first hour.
Evans and several others managed to bridge. At Millisle he, Stewart, Alastair Martin (Ards CC), Jim McConnell (East Antrim), Mark Greer (Maryland), and Simon Mulvaney (Stamullan) were twenty seconds up on the main field, a gap which was eventually overcome. The next successful attack saw seven riders break free; Greer, Martin, Evans, Steward, McConnell, Roger Aiken (Banbridge) and Denis Easton (Total Cycling) had a minute and a half’s lead over three riders, Ryan Bankhead (Ballymena RC), Brendan Graham (Total Cycling) and Gary Cranston (East Antrim) when they reached the finish circuit.
The bunch was down to thirty riders and approximately half of these hit the deck due to the strong winds. The conditions saw huge waves being thrown up onto the road from Strangford Loch inside the final 15 miles, with a strong headwind making the going very difficult indeed. At the finish in Newtownard‘s Evans pipped Stewart in the sprint to take a fine win, with Denis Easton a further 2 seconds behind. Twenty seconds later Greer outsprinted McConnell to secure third, while half a minute further back Martin got the verdict over Aiken.
Evans readily admitted after the race that he is some way off near peak fitness, saying it was his tactical sense and experience which won out in the end.
1 Tommy Evans (Total Cycling) 2.36.02 2 Brian Stewart (Usher Irish RC) 3 Denis Easton (Maryland Wheeelers) 0.02 4 Mark Greer (Maryland Wheelers) 0.20 5 Jim McConnell (East Antrim-Audi) 6 Alastair Martin (Ards CC) 0.50 7 Roger Aiken (Banbridge) same time 8 Gary Cranston (East Antrim-Audi) 2.38 9 Brendan Graham (Total Cycling) 10 Ross Blayney (Ards CC) 7.58 11Ryan Bankhead (Ballymena RC) 8.15 12 Adrian McDermott (Total Cycling) 9.00
Local results 2004