Mark Dowling beats best of Ulster for hard-fought Bob Crilly win

Posted on: June 8th, 2019

Mark Dowling Cycling Leinster Bob Crilly ClassicMark Dowling sprints in though the fog atop Divis Mountain for victory in the Bob Crilly Classic (Photo: Shea Gribbon)

Always a man who hits his best form in the summer months, Mark Dowling has emerged through the mist of Divis Mountain to win the Bob Crilly Classic.

However, there was no victory salute for the Leinster Cycling rider as he was pressed hard all the way to the finish line by the best of Ulster.

Indeed, the clutch of riders fighting it out for the win are some of the very best in the country and Dowling’s victory over them indicates some good form.

At the top of Divis Mountain Dowling was up against four other riders who had emerged strongest from a large breakaway on the climb.

Mark Dowling Cycling Leinster Bob Crilly Classic
Donal Shearer and Jody Wright finish in 5th and 6th for host club Phoenix CC. They made the cut on the climb, getting up it with the best (Photo: Shea Gribbon)
Mark Dowling Cycling Leinster Bob Crilly Classic
Irish Masters champ Des Woods knew he’d been in a race… (Photo: Shea Gribbon)
Mark Dowling Cycling Leinster Bob Crilly Classic
Gareth Kirkwood of Team Madigan was out on his own in the A3 event; a nice one to win solo atop the climb (Photo: Shea Gribbon)

Donal Shearer of host club Phoenix CC put in a bid for victory on the climb; going clear in a bid to win it solo but being overhauled.

Just before the line Dowling got ahead of Darnell Moore, the Caldwell Cycles man who won the Ulster crit title during the week.

He beat Moore into 2nd place, with James Curry (Dan Morrissey-MIG-Pactimo) just inches behind Moore on the line.

The came Lindsay Watson (Powerhouse Sport) and the aforementioned Shearer; rounding out a quality top five on the day.

Another very strong man, Jody Wright of Phoenix CC, was just behind the first five to take 6th place.

Mark Dowling Cycling Leinster Bob Crilly Classic
Newry Wheeler Alan Bingham leads the breakaway; one of the strongest groups you’ll see off the front of an Irish road race (Photo: Sharon McFarland)
Mark Dowling Cycling Leinster Bob Crilly Classic
Roger Aiken of Banbridge Cycling Club comes through the mist, forced to settle for the minor placings this time around (Photo: Sharon McFarland)

At the top of the climb the leaders face an unusual challenge in that they were unable to see the finish line until they were on top of it.

It made for a cagey sprint, with nobody lighting it up early for fear of going too soon and losing out.

However, when the gallop eventually got underway Dowling proved too strong for Moore and Curry.

Early in the race, after just a couple of kilometres, the decisive move went clear; 14 riders forging ahead in a breakaway.

In the breakaway was the eventual top six riders along with: Marcus Christie (PSBR), Roger Aiken (Banbridge CC), Karl Morgan (Phoenix CC), Sean McIntyre and Craig McAuley (both Caldwell Cycles), Des Woods, Gareth O’Neill and Alan Bingham, all of Newry Wheelers.

The escape group rode together all the way to the bottom of the climb. And with a headwind most of the way up the mountain the leaders remained tightly packed until very close to the summit.

At the very top where the road kicks up the group final split in the final push to the line.

Gareth Kirkwood of Team Madigan was out front on his own at the end of the A3 race with plenty of time to celebrate.

More to come about all races.