David Watson takes final stage for Tour of the North win
David Watson (North Down CC) sealed victory in the 2015 Tour of The North in the best way possible when he won the final stage in Ballymena.
He won a five-man group sprint from Angus Fyffe (Belgian Project), Gareth McCullough, (Newry Wheelers), David Hamilton (North Down) and Craig McAuley (Caldwell Cycles).
Earlier in the 115 km stage, a 15-man group had gained a lead of 50 seconds over the bunch which included Watson.
On the first King of the Hills climb at Springwell Forest the bunch had closed to 35 seconds as Mike Millar (Phoenix) took top points in the prime line.
At the second big climb of Cam Forest the peleton had caught the early breakaway and fragmented into three groups.
Watson, helped by his North Down team, especially Hamilton, got back with the leaders in the closing miles and the five leaders were 15 seconds clear of the main bunch with 5 km to go.
The two North Down lads did the lion's share of the pace-making and in the sprint finish Watson was the worthy winner.
The bunch was lead in by Ken Tobin (Bikeworx Dublin) and Mark Downey (Banbridge CC) for sixth and seventh at five seconds.
Watson had a 10-second winning gap over Ronan McLaughlin while Hamilton's fourth place lifted him into third place overall at 11 seconds. Jack Waller (Spirit Bikes) was fourth at +12, followed by Karl Morgan (Phoenix) at + 15 and Mark Downey in sixth and best young rider under 23 at +17.
McLaughlin won the King of the Hills from Darnell Moore (Caldwell Cycles) with Belfast man Mike Millar (Phoenix) third.
Best team overall was Spirit Bikes from Buckinghamshire with Caldwell Cycles, Omagh, second and Banbridge CC, third.