PREVIEW: ROUND 3 BELFAST
The rigs, the barriers, the corners and the gazebos are all on their way across the sea to the fair land of Northern Ireland for Round 3 of our StreetVelodrome National Series and the start of our Northern Ireland Mini-Tour.
This is an exciting opportunity for the StreetVelodrome family, for the riders and set-up crew alike, as we get to spend time in the lush green lands and experience the warm welcome of our cycling friends, divided only by a short stretch of water. The StreetVelodrome Mini-Tour starts and finishes with a round of the National Series, with fun access events open to the public inbetween in Armargh, Banbridge, Derry and Strabane. It will be an extended trip and we are all looking forward to the hospitality, adventures and new friends that await!
But now, let’s focus on our first stop and the event to kick-off the fortnight - Round 3 in Belfast. Round 3 is part of the Gran Fondo weekend in which Belfast are embracing all things cycling and are geared up to accommodate a huge number of cyclists as part of their sportive and the cycling activities around it. Our StreetVelodrome will be set-up in pride of place at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in the historic Titanic Quarter, where we are expecting a lot of passing members of the public to be captivated into giving it a try and cheering for the Pro Competition.
Our predictions for the race results are unclear, as it has been proven that when on “home ground” and in front of a loyal crowd, the local regional team tend to pull it out of the bag and exceed expectations. Can the same be said of the Belfast Titans? It will be tricky as the female rider will be riding the track for the first time, where experience plays a big part in speed for the Pro’s. Nathan McComb, the male contingent of the Belfast Titans, is also a relative newbie but proved worth his salt in Hillingdon at Round 2. With a little bit of experience under his belt, along with a natural ability and a home advantage, who knows where he will place?!
Nathan in action at Round 2
Also mixing up the bag a little is the loss of Team London’s Dave Johnson for this round, with Belfast local Gareth McKee taking his place. Dave is in tied first place with Patrick Robinson (Angels of the North) and this change around from undefeated champion, to first-timer, could have a significant effect on Team London’s standings.
Team London’s Anna Glowinski remains positive however, “Dave and I ride really well together as a team but having seen some of Gareth’s bike riding experience, combined with being a “local lad” I’m sure we’ll have a very strong team. Seeing Gareth riding as a Pro despite it being his first time means that he will be the local, unsung hero and that’s guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser, which is what it’s all about really...putting on a good show and inspiring people to enjoy cycle sport.”
The women’s racing is set to be exciting. Jess Stone from Team Cornwall remains unbeaten so far for gold, and she is also the rider to have scored the most catches thus far this series, but the battle for podium is tighter than ever amongst the women - with Rowena Price, Tanya Griffiths and Jessica Watson showing particular determination and grit.
Will Anna & Jess be going head to head again in Belfast?
Helen MacGregor, usual Belfast Titans rider has this to say to women members of the public “as a newcomer to the StreetVelodrome Pro racing tour I was nervous and at times, felt out of my depth. But the other riders, the friendliness and the tips and advice has seen me through to up my game and stand amongst the other Pro riders. If you can ride a bike, then all you need to do is turn up and have a go. At the very least, you will finish smiling and you never know, you may even end up winning yourself a spot on my team where we can represent the Belfast Titans together in the RideLondon SuperFinals this summer!”
Who will be joining Belfast Titans Helen & Nathan for the SuperFinals?
The fastest amateur riders in Saturday’s competition will be invited to compete at Round 4 in Ballyclare, June 19th, of which the fastest overall male and female amateurs will go on to represent Northern Ireland along with the Belfast Titans in the Prudential RideLondon SuperFinals July 30th!
It is an amazing opportunity for anyone, because as the first two rounds have shown, nobody has any idea how well they might fare at the StreetVelodrome and it’s very much a case of “It could be YOU!”
0900 - 1200 AMATEUR QUALIFYING
1200 - 1300 PRO TEAM QUALIFYING
1300 - 1400 KIDS SERIES PRACTICE
1400 - 1600 UK STREETVELODROME SERIES ROUND 3