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Ballymena Hosts Hot Third Round of National Road Series

Ballymena Hosts Hot Third Round of National Road Series

BALLYMENA on Saturday plays host to the third round of the Cycling Ireland National Road Series, as all four classifications begin to take shape in Ireland's premier road racing event.

At round two in Blarney, Team Dan Morrissey-MIG.ie-Pactimo continued to show dominance, last year's National Road Series Champion Conor Hennebry retaining his lead, as tall teammate Sean Hahessy won the Donal Crowley Memorial Road Race.

In the Women's National Road Series, multiple World Para-cycling Champion Eve McCrystal returned to domestic action, but was out-gunned by Irish track cycling international Mia Griffin.

Both now feature in the top 10 of the General Classification, led by first round winner Grace Young, who rides with McCrystal on the Strata3 VeloRevolution Racing Team.

Despite their clear strengths, it is Scott-Orwell Wheelers who lead the Women's Team Classification, thanks to some determined riding by newcomer Arron Fox.

Fox was dropped from the bunch early in the race, but battled on to finish 18th - the last official finisher from 26 starters.

With team mates Yvonne Doran and Monica Marconi finished earlier, Fox's performance gave the Dublin club the three riders necessary to score points in the Team Classification - and it took them to the top of that table.

"I was himming and hawing about whether or not to go done, but I decided to go because I knew if I got some points it would count towards the team prize," said Fox.

"I knew the weather forecast was horrible and we woke up to lashing rain and wind," she remembered.

"I got dropped about halfway, so had 40k on my own, into a head wind. I knew I had to keep racing, because if I slowed down, I was going to get cold."

She added: "It was absolutely fantastic to finish the race, because mentally, it had been a battle."

Fox will turn out again on Saturday, with her and Doran joined by Monica Freiband. UCD Cycling Club are also well represented, with Strata3 VeloRevolution's McCrystal and Young bound to be a formidable force in Antrim's Glens.

The Blair International Red Hand Trophy starts in Ballymena and loops 103km up to Ballycastle, following the coast to Carnlough, before returning to finish in Ballymena on Saturday afternoon.

The trophy, presented to the winner of the Men's National Road Series Race was first presented in 1869 and came to Ballymena Road Club in 1968.

Conor Hennebry, who rides again on Saturday and leads the Men's National Road Series General Classification, is the latest name on the honour role.

The Blair International Red Hand Trophy will be covered live on Twitter via @CINatRoadSeries this Saturday from early.

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