Dromara CC entered a team in the prestigious Newry 3-day stage race on the weekend of 8th- 10th August, in what was the race’s 27th year on the Cycling Ireland calender.
The race is a popular choice amongst A2 and A3 riders, but with the lack of races in the August calendar the race was moved from its usual July date to August, which lengthened the racing season for some.
Zak Hanna, Chris Magowan, Gavin Magowan and Nathan Mullan all arrived at the start on Friday night ready for what was going to be a tough weekend’s racing.
The first stage was 37 miles with 3 laps of the Warrenpoint – Newry carriageway to complete before heading onto the Old Warrenpoint road before making a left onto the infamous Grinnan road, a climb approximately a mile in length but with a average gradient of 6-7%. Dromara where active throughout the stage creating and chasing breaks to keep the race together, and after picking up two breakaway riders in the last 200m the bunch entered the finishing straight leaving Gavin to unleash his deadly kick to leave the chasers behind to take the stage win and the Yellow Jersey, the first time a Dromara rider has ever achieved such a feat.
Gavin was presented with the Yellow jersey by the Maidens of Mourne.
Stage 2 saw the riders tackle 3 laps of the Hilltown-Kilcoo-Rathriland-Hilltown circuit, before turning right towards Spelga and then turning right towards Santa’s cottage before descending down into Rostrevor then climbing back into Hilltown via the Reed Hall climb. The stage would total 52 miles.
Stage 3 was a 4.2 mile time trial from the Narrow Water Castle on the Warrenpoint Carriageway to the roundabout at Newry. First Dromara rider off was Zak, followed by Chris, Nathan and Gavin.
Zak finished with a time of 9 minutes 12 seconds, Gavin was next with 8:53 followed by Nathan with 8:49. Chris was first Dromara rider on the stage placing 30th with 8:32.
After stage 3 on GC Gavin was highest placed sitting 30th, 2 minutes off yellow. Nathan was 6th, Chris 74th and Zak 79th.
On Sunday the riders awoke to torrential rain beating against the windows, perfect for tackling the tough 72 miles that the race was due to undertake. Approaching the first real test of the day, the steep ascent into Rathriland, the race surprisingly stayed together with only a few riders going out the back. Gavin, Zak and Nathan got up safely in the bunch. About 2 mile after leaving Rathriland Zak retired due to not being able to change gears or break due to cold hands.
With Gavin and Nathan left in the race, it was down into Newry where the riders turned left towards Mayobridge and Hilltown. At Hilltown it was back to Rathriland for another time up Rathriland Hill, and with riders still up the road by this stage the yellow jersey was under threat with last year’s winner ahead of the chasing pack.
In the last 10 miles a late charge from Newry Wheelers’ Des Woods proved to be the winning move as he cross the finish line at the MOT centre in Newry ahead of 2nd place Mark Downey and 3rd place David Montgomery, who was the new winner of the 2014 edition of the Newry 3 day.
Gavin sprinted to 4th place and Nathan was 6th on the stage, leaving Gavin to finish 2nd overall in the points classification. Gavin finished 21st overall and Nathan 43rd overall.