David Watson is tipped to defend Tour of the North title
David Watson is favourite to successfully defend his title in the Tour of the North international cycle race.
The four-day five-stage event runs from Good Friday, March 25 to Easter Monday, March 28.
The 2016 Tour of the North leaders jerseys were presented to Watson (North Down CC), Chris McGlinchey (Chain Reaction) and Glen Kinning (Kinning Cycles) at the official launch at the Portaferry Hotel.
Last year's King of the Hills and overall runner-up Ronan McLaughlin returns in a strong Carn Wheelers squad.
Other notable entries include Fraser Duncan (Asea Wheelworx) who won three road stages in 2014 and Derek Finnegan (Keevan CC) who won the final stage in Carrickfergus in 2011.
Jake Hales (Spirit Bikes) from England has been among the front runners in recent years while up and coming riders such as Craig Rea (Phoenix CC) and Ryan Reilly (Foyle CC) should feature in the top placings.
A total of 100 riders will compete with teams from Ireland, north and south, Scotland, England and Holland.
Racing begins on Friday, March 25 (5.30pm) at Kirkistown Motor Racing Circuit (one hour plus five laps).
Stage Two on the Saturday starts and finishes in Portaferry (11am start).
Sunday has a short time trial (five miles) finishing on the mountain road climb (9am start) while Stage Four is a road race from Portaferry to Newtownards into the Castlereagh Hills and then to Donaghadee for the finish (66 miles).
The final stage on Easter Monday starts at Bangor Rugby Club (11am).
The race goes to Comber and then finishes with a tough climb up Bradshaw's Brae and the Holywood Road towards Craigantlet (78 miles).
The total distance of the five stages is 270 miles.