Davy McKnight and Lindsay Watson leading the bunch.
Team Vision Racing and VC Iveagh backed by their kit supplier Powerhouse Sport had David McKnight and Neil Seffen joined by Lindsay Watson of Plush MTB and John Heverin from Clann Eireann on “Team Powerhouse / TVR”.
The race began on Friday evening with a 35 mile stage on the Warrenpoint carriageway before climbing Grinan Hill and onto the finish circuit in the town centre.
The pace was high from the off with Davy riding strong to keep any breakaways within reach, allowing Lindsay to take a superb sprint Prime at the end of lap one. Sensible riding at the front of the bunch saw Lindsay take an excellent 5th place with Davy on his wheel in 6th at the line. This also put Lindsay into the Green Points jersey going into Saturday’s stage with the Team in 5th place.
The plan for Saturday was to retain the Green jersey on a testing 64 mile circuit including Cat 2 climbs of Reed Hall and Elm Hall at Rostrevor before the finish in Hilltown.
A strong 6 man break was formed almost immediately and with the Primes early on in the stage, Neil’s efforts to usher Lindsay to the fore were in vain with the points being absorbed by the breakaway riders.
The climbs saw the race explode and with riders constantly losing touch, John took his opportunity to form alliances and successfully stayed ahead of the diminished peloton to finish the stage 11 seconds back from the winner moving to 3rd place overall in the General Classification just 2 seconds behind the leader with Lindsay holding on to Green by just 2 points.
Stage 3; a short 3.7 mile time trial on Saturday afternoon saw the lads all post excellent times, especially in such hot conditions and with this being John’s area of expertise it was inevitable that he would surely move into the leaders jersey at the end of the day.
This was exactly the case and with a winning time of 7mins 57secs he was the new overall leader by 8 seconds and the Team now moved into the lead in that classification by a great margin of 2mins and 13secs.
The final stage on Sunday morning, a 75 mile looping course from Newry via Banbridge, Castlewellan, Bryansford and Rathfriland twice had pressure on the team defending a lead on three fronts but the intention was to take early sprint Primes at Poyntzpass and Banbridge to keep Lindsay in the points jersey.
Attacks went off the front from the off and with Davy sheltering John, Neil and Lindsay were fruitless in pursuit of the points. This was the pattern for the day and with a break eventually sticking, Rathfriland man Gary Crory took the stage win with John loosing 26 seconds he slipped to a still impressive third place overall, just 9 seconds back.
A great effort all weekend from the entire team retained the top spot in the Team Classification by 1min 51secs and with John finishing third overall it was a huge success. It wouldn’t have been made possible if not for the support of Garth at Powerhouse Sport, Tim pulling the team together, Meryvn and Simon for mechanical support and all at TVR and VC Iveagh.