The Louth Cycling team had their final warm up before the An Post Rás, which starts May 19 and runs for eight days, covering over 1,500km.
The Tour of Ulster was a four-stage, three-day event held over the May Bank Holiday weekend.
On Saturday’s first stage, Roger Aiken, (right) who last rode for the Louth team back in 2005, was part of the winning break and with less than 2km to go jumped away from his break away companions to take the win and the first yellow jersey of the race.
The next stage, held that afternoon, was a short 4km time trial and while unfortunately Aiken lost the jersey, the Louth team had two men in the top 10 with Bryan McCrystal in 5th and Colm Quinn in 9th.
Sunday’s action moved to the Antrim city of Lurgan, where Aiken was again in the thick of the action but was unable to reclaim his jersey, which new rested on the shoulders of Team Aqua Blue’s Joe Fenlon. Fenlon, a very experienced rider, is the current National Vets Champion.
Everything came down to Monday’s final stage and team manger, Dominic O’Brannagain, came up with a strategy to try and see Aiken take the overall win.
Louth riders Colm Quinn, Ultan Coyle and Ray O’Shaughnessey set a good pace early on and then the team put McCrystal and Aiken into the break. Yellow jersey Fenlon missed the break and put his formidable Aqua Blue team on the front to try and haul Aiken back.
Over the mountainous 140km course the chase continued and with some 20km to go McCrystal and Aiken had dropped everyone else and pressed on alone.
In the end, they couldn’t quite gain back enough time, but the pair did stay away for the Louth team to take their second stage win of the weekend, with McCrystal crossing the line with arms aloft and Aiken ending up second overall.
Meanwhile in the Bradford International Race, Eve McCrystal, riding for the Leinster team, had a lot of bad luck being involved in an accident on the first day and puncturing on the second day.
She did recover to put in a strong ride in the individual time trial to finish in 9th place and help her team to a strong ride in the team time trial.