A Banbridge Cycling Club member got more than he bargained for when he went to watch the Giro d’Italia.
Spectating from the Newtownards Road in Belfast, Dromore man Peadar McGreevy was on hand to attend to Irish rider Dan Martin when his dreams of victory slipped on a drain and tumbled to the ground.
It was a sad way for Martin’s race to end. The Giro was his focus for the season but one slip and a broken collarbone put paid to any hopes of victory.
As one of the major talking points of the weekend unfolded, Peadar ended up in the thick of the action and was first on the scene to aid the Garmin-Sharp rider.
“After lunch, the rest of the guys wanted to go up to the university area but I decided to go down to the Newtownards Road, where I would see the riders coming past twice,” he began to explain.
“There was a man-hole grating just down from me that a few riders had hit but managed to stay on their bikes. It was in a bad place and Dan hit it as well but he came off his bike.
“I ran down to him but there were that many people coming down after me.
“One of Dan’s team guys came over and took his helmet off to have a word with him but the team had to get five of their riders over the line in time so then he left to see to that. I was left there trying to console Dan.
“He said to get him some space as everyone was standing over him and then I put my hand on his back to give him some support. He was very shaken and I thought he might faint and fall back again.
“Somebody offered him water but I said not to drink in case he had to take anaesthetic. It was just about knowing what to look for as a rider.
“There was another of his team coming behind him then so I shouted and they managed to get the road cleared for the other rider to get through.”
Peadar, a touring rider at Banbridge CC, had been understandably excited by the chance to see such a high profile race up close. Little did he know just how close he would get.
He continued: “The main two guys I had been looking out for were Nicolas (Roche) and Dan. Dan has just changed teams though so it was quite difficult to spot him in his new colours. That was the only thing, it was a bit early in the year. I watch the races on TV every year but it’s only towards the end of the season that you really get familiar with each rider and who they all are.
“I shouted over at Nicolas as he drove past and he stuck his hand up. He mentioned in an interview afterwards about getting his name called out too.
“I thoroughly enjoyed it all but I got the real view when I went home on TV. When you’re there, they are past you in seven or eight seconds but it was great anyway. We went to Belfast on Friday and up to Ballymena and Glenarm on Saturday. The razzmatazz surrounding it all was great.”
It certainly was a hugely successful event for NI as thousands of spectators descended onto the streets, which all looked pretty in the Giro pink, to watch the race, including a healthy bunch from both Banbridge CC riders and West Down Wheelers.
It wasn’t quite as joyous an occasion for Martin, who was transported to the Royal Victoria Hospital and then on to Dublin where he had to undergo surgery.