Tour of the North: Fraser Duncan toasts treble as Gullen lifts prize
Fraser Duncan raced to a remarkable treble yesterday when he won his third stage of the Tour of the North but despite this feat of winning all the road stages it was still not enough to achieve outright victory.
That accolade went to Englishman James Gullen who was riding for the professional Velosure Giordana outfit.
Gullen had gained 11 seconds on Duncan in the short Time Trial stage on Sunday morning but this small margin ensured that he maintained the Yellow Jersey and finished top on General Classification in this international stage race.
Throughout yesterday's stage which included tough climbs at Cam Forest and Springwell outside Limavady, Duncan (below) and his fellow Northern CC-Dave Kane team-mates Adam Armstrong and Conor Murphy tried to dislodge Gullen with attack after attack but the Velosure Giordana squad answered every challenge and ensured that the race came down to an exciting bunch sprint at Galgorm.
Duncan was first to cross the line, edging out Richard Hepworth (Velosure Giordana) and Brian Stewart of Phoenix CC who finished strongly.
Peter Hawkins, representing Cycling Ulster-Slane Cycles, was next across the line with Stamullen veteran Craig Sweetman and James McMaster of North Down completing the top six.
Throughout the stage Donegal's Ronan McLaughlin, a former professional with the An Post-Sean Kelly team, made a determined attempt to win the King of the Mountains classification but despite his efforts that jersey remained with the remarkable junior Eddie Dunbar from Banteer in County Cork.
Dunbar also finished fifth overall indicating that he could be the next big name in Irish cycling.
It will certainly be worth monitoring his progress as he takes plenty of encouragement from this showing.
1. Fraser Duncan (Northern-Dave Kane)
2. Richard Hepworth (Velosure-Giordana)
3. Brian Stewart (Phoenix CC)
4. Peter Hawkins (Cycling Ulster-Slane Cycles)
5. Craig Sweetman (Stamullen-M.Donnelly)
6. James Mcmaster (North Down)
7. Nigel Quigley (Bann Wheelers)
8. Alastair McAuley (Phoenix CC)
9. Gareth McCullough (Newry Wheelers)
10. Andrew Whitehall (Glasgow Wheelers)
Final General Classification
1 James Gullen (Velosure-Giordana)
2 Fraser Duncan (Northern-Dave Kane
3 Richard Hepworth (Velosure-Giordana)
4 Brad Morgan (Velosure-Giordana)
5 Eddie Dunbar (Ireland Juniors)
6 Sebastian Bayliss (Champion Systems)
7 Tom Bustard (Velosure-Giordana)
8 Chris Dredge (Spirit Bikes)
9 Steven Lawley (Glasgow Wheelers)
10 James Moss (Velosure-Giordana)