It may be the Royal Mail that delivers letters in Northern Ireland, but it was the team co-sponsored by their counterparts over the border that made the evening collection in Belfast last night, with An Post Sean Kelly picking up both the team win and, through David O’Loughlin, the individual victory when the Halfords Tour Series hit town.
With two races left to go in the ten-round Halfords Tour Series in Great Britain, yesterday’s race was the first part of a double-header mini-series across the Irish Sea, the second and final round taking place yesterday evening.
Like the British series, riders are racing for their teams, although the line-up has an especially Irish feel to it, with teams representing all four Irish provinces mixing it with representatives from the likes of Sigma Sport-Specialized and Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta.
There was a guest rider last night, too, riding on his own for the individual prize – none other than Garmin-Transitions star, preparing to claim back the Irish National Road Race champion’s jersey he lost last year to AG2R La Mondiale’s Nico Roche.
The US-based ProTour team’s orange and blue Argyle colours were to the fore at the front of the peloton early on in the race around a 1km circuit as Martin sought to chase down the evening’s first big breakaway, and eventually he managed to bridge the gap himself to join an 11-strong lead group.
As the race went on, however, the escapees were reeled in by the chasing bunch, bringing the field back together, until O’Loughlin made what proved to be the race-winning move, riding strongly to keep the peloton at bay for what was ultimately a comfortable margin of victory.
Tonight’s race in Dublin starts at 6pm and full details are available on the Tour Series Ireland website.
The Halfords Tour Series Belfast Results
1) An Post Sean Kelly Cycling Team
3) Cycling Ulster-Slanes Cycles
4) Sigma Sport-Specialized
5) Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta
6) Team Ireland
7) Team Raleigh
1) David O'Loughlin - An Post Sean Kelly Cycling Team
2) Tony Gibb Cycle - Premier.com-Metaltek
3) Matt Brammeier - An Post Sean Kelly Cycling Team
4) Maxim Debusschere - An Post Sean Kelly Cycling Team
5) Jason White - CyclePremier.com-Metaltek
Boardman Bikes Sprints Competition Results
1) Andrew Magnier - CyclePremier.com-Metaltek 13pts
2) Tom Murray - Sigma Sport - Specialized 12pts
3) Richard Handle - Team Raleigh 8pts
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.