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By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent
The ability to psyche out the main opposition in the Commbes/Conor cycling event held at Donore, Co. Louth proved successful for Philip Cassidy of the Cycleway team.
Conditions were not ideal for this star-studded event, which attracted 70 category A competitors over a testing five laps of a 25km course, which included a tough climb at Ross na Ri on each passage.
It was at the first climb of the afternoon that seven went clear of the main pack and from then on it was these principals who eventually would struggle through the incessant hail stones and finish well ahead of the main bunch.
Cassidy had to contend with the inform pair of Martin O'Loughlin and Eddie O'Donoghue as company in the seven man group. As a unit they shared the pace, but going through the village of Duleek on the third time, O'Loughlin punctured which was the turning point of the race in favour of the eventual winner. Cassidy accelerated out of the group with 32km remaining and the onus fell on O'Donoghue to give chase which he failed to respond to because his colleague was back the road making a valiant attempt to link up again with break and when he eventually did, Cassidy had made good his escape. In the end he had a comfortable winning margin of nearly two minutes on runner-up and the defending champion O'Donoghue with the unfortunate O'Loughlin in third place all of three minutes plus behind on a course which passed through Donore/Ross na Ri/Duleek/Platin.
1 P Cassidy (Cycleways) 3.00.18 2 E O'Donoghue (Carrick Cidona) 1.56 3 M Loughlin (Carrick Cidona) 3.42 4 C Greene (Clann Eireann) 4.03 5 S Gallagher (Orchard Whls.) 4.28