By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
The Tour of Ulster proclaimed as the premier cycle race in the North, will have two stage ends in Strabane this year. It's the first time for the event to make its way to Strabane. Local cycling representative Colin Boyle, who is on the organising committee, has been involved in the planning.
Stage 2, on Sunday, May 1, brings the expected one hundred cyclists from Craigavon, over the top of Lough Neagh, onto Strabane by way of some of the hilliest roads in the Sperrins. Unfortunately, the competitors will have little time to enjoy the spectacular views, as they race at top speed for the finish, alongside Strabane's Canal Basin. The race is expected to arrive there around 3.30 pm on Sunday.
The next morning from 9:00 am the riders will be in action again, for stage 3, a short two mile time trial. Colin Boyle said today that the time trial, while by far the shortest of the four stages, will be critical in deciding the eventual winner.
"Last year Tommy Evans won the overall event by virtue of just a few seconds that he gained in the time trial at Gorton Glen," said Boyle. "I think the same could happen again this year." Tribune people will have a unique opportunity to see the time trial on Monday 2 May. It will be based around the Canal Basin area, and will last for nearly two hours.
The Tour of Ulster is the major cycle race promoted under the auspices of Cycling Ulster, and competitors will represent the top cycling teams in Ireland. An Isle of Man representative team has entered, as have teams from Ulster, Leinster, Connaught and Munster.