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Wood shows a relentless pace to seal Tour of the North glory

 

By Eddie Hampton

Reece Wood (Zappi Team Racing) came through a three-man sprint at Ballymena to win yesterday's stage and clinch the overall Tour of the North victory.

Once underway at Broughshane, racing was fast and exciting. Nine men were allowed to break away and were still ahead by the bottom of the first climb of the day in Cushendall.

The pace of the chasing peloton showed little mercy up the Layde climb and everyone was brought back together.

The break of the day went away on the first of six climbs along Torr Road. Locals Kevin McCambridge (NRPT Chilli), Craig McAuley (Caldwell Cycles) and David Montgomery (Kinning Cycles) accompanied Wood on a decisive breakaway.

With six killer climbs averaging 15-20% in places, the chasing pack were strung out along the road, trying to shelter from the hot sun and the wind. The lead from front to back was over six minutes.

Coming into Cushendun once again, the four breakaway riders had nearly a four-minute gap. The last ascent of the day, up Gaults Road, saw the leaders ride strong but steady to maintain their advantage.

McAuley lost touch with the front on the fast run into Ballymena, leaving the other trio to contest the honours. Wood won the sprint from McCambridge and Montgomery, treating spectators to a sprinting spectacle.

As a result of the win, Wood took the overall race victory from Montgomery and McCambridge. He also won the young rider award with McAuley winning the mountains classification prize.

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