The P&O Ferries sponsored Tour of the North International Cycle Race is the largest sporting fixture in Northern Ireland during the Easter Break. This premier cycling event will see local rider John Madden set himself against the best cyclists in the area over a punishing course.
The 4 day / 4 stage event, on the calendar since 1995, is the biggest cycle race in Northern Ireland and attracts over one hundred international racing cyclists from Ireland, the U.K. and Europe. The Tour of the North sees riders compete over 250 miles, taking in some of the toughest terrain in the province, as the riders compete for the coveted race winner’s Yellow Jersey.
Madden, who rides for Curran Racing, will be part of a strong 6-man team that will be aiming to have riders feature in possible stage wins and even a top placing over all. Madden is the Irish senior record holder for 50 miles in addition to being Ulster champion for 100 miles in his specialist time trial discipline.
He is hoping that this strength together with the expert coaching he has received from former professional cyclist Stephen Gallagher from Forme Coaching will propel him through the most demanding of stages over the Easter weekend.
“I have been pleased to have been finishing consistently in the main bunch for the majority of races I have started this season. I am in a strong team and starting in the A1 group behind all the other categories has meant that my chances of getting into a winning break or even solo riding off the front have been very limited so far this year. Perhaps my team will assist me later in the season as a return for my efforts on their behalf up to this point?” said Madden.
The Tour race starts with a short prolog event on Good Friday from the gates at Stormont to the front of the Stormont buildings with the finish line just beside Carson’s statue.
The second stage on Saturday sees riders roll out from Rathfriland and take in the challenging climb at Spelga before returning to finish in Rathfriland. Sunday’s torturous stage leaves from Magherafelt and includes parts of the Sperrins.
Last but not least Monday’s stage takes in a climb at Glenarm before traveling along the coast to Waterfoot where the mighty Glenariff Glen takes riders back to the finish in Broughshane. Madden has completed the Tour of the North in the past but will be aiming to improve his result this year.
“The standard has gone up in recent years for the increasingly popular Tour event. I have noticed the average speed for the main bunch of riders creeping up as more pro teams enter the race. For amateur riders like myself the challenge will be to try to stay with this main group. We have some riders in Curran who could potentially get into the breaks and maybe even get a stage win. My job will also be to try to assist our top guys and give them whatever support I can” said Madden.
More details of the Tour of the North may be found on the website: http://www.tourofthenorth.com/ where you can find details of where riders are expected to be at various times during the stages if you wanted to cheer Madden and other local lads along. For live feeds as each stage of the race progresses and to receive updates on important news you can follow the race on Twitter and Facebook.