Philip Lavery of the Cycling Ulster/David McCall/Slane Cycles outfit will wear the first Yellow Jersey of this year’s P&O Tour of the North International cycle race after winning last night’s one mile prologue Time Trial at Stormont.
The 20-year-old stormed up the hill to the Assembly Buildings in a staggering time of 2.13 — just one second clear of runner-up Matt Cronshaw of the Rapha Condor Team from Carnforth.
Lavery was delighted with the win but added: “It’s great to win the prologue and wear the leaders jersey but it will make things tougher for our Ulster squad.
“However we have a great team and we will do our best to win the race outright.”
Cronshaw was quite happy with his performance pacing himself just before the final last ascent.
The Lancashire man said: “It’s always nice to take yellow but it puts a lot of pressure on the team and there is still a long way to go before the finish.
“I am very happy with second spot at the moment.”
Last year’s victor, Newtownards man Martyn Irvine (Planet X) placed third a further second back, so only three seconds separate the first three on General Classification.
Ballymena’s Ryan Connor was next best of the Cycling Ulster-David McCall Foundation team, sponsored by Slane Cycles, Belfast, taking seventh position in a time of 2.18.90.
The race continues today with a 76 mile road stage in County Down. The deciding section of the stage should take place over the notoriously steep climb of Slieve Croob outside Dromara.
If a break goes here they should be able to stay clear through Clough, Crossgar and Killyleagh before the finish at Comber.
Meanwhile, the Police Service and Cycling Ulster unveiled a new initiative to improve safety at road cycling events across the province.
Event marshals will be provided with orange reflective bibs, providing what is known as an ‘A class outrider’ presence at all local cycle events.
The bibs made their debut at the start of the Tour of the North last night. The Police Service has funded the cost of the bibs, as well as providing Cycling Ulster with guidance in relation to the safe running of cycle race events in preparation for the season.