Unity for Irish cycling

The Northern Ireland Cycling Federation (NICF) member clubs voted overwhelmingly in support of a major change in direction, in a special meeting earlier this month, that will see them combine with Cycling Ulster, and thus be affiliated with the world governing body via Cycling Ireland for 2007.

This joining of forces will unify cyclists in a sport that has been divided for three decades in Northern Ireland, and will see NICF member clubs switch affiliation from British Cycling to Cycling Ireland.

The proposal was brought about after the federation's meeting last month, where permission was sought from the members to enter in to formal discussions with Cycling Ulster to join forces. The unification is a culmination of the years of work, where relations between the two bodies have been carefully cultivated.

Longstanding NICF Chairman Alan Mark chaired the meeting, which saw a landslide vote of 29 in favour and 2 against. Ballymena Road Club, one of the biggest clubs in Ireland, led the vote with their 11 delegates, and were supported by North Down CC, Team Madigan, Old Bleach CC and West Down Wheelers.

Spokesman for Cycling Ulster Tommy Lamb said "This is an historic occasion and will see the Ulster region become the strongest of the four provincial federations. Relationships between the two groups have been harmonious for the past number of years and this coming together can only benefit cycling in the long term. All members will still be able to opt for their preferred nationality code and thus noone's identity is compromised."

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