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Halvey wins Ras Dhun na nGall 2017

Conor Halvey, the 16 year old Junior from Letterkenny who rides with Nicholas Roche Performance Team, became the first Donegal winner in its 27 year history of Ras Dhun na nGall. The 2017 winner, who signed with NRPT at the start of the season, had a very successful youth career coming through the ranks of the Errigal CC Youth Development Programme. He had been getting good results in the early season races and would have been fancied for a good finish here in Donegal. There would be quite a few contenders in for the overall win this year, most coming from Conor’s team, NRPT.
Based in Ardara again this year and sponsored by the Nesbit Arms Hotel and the Ardara Traders, the race kicked off on Friday evening with a 57km road stage around a loop that included Ardara, Kilraine, Frosses, Ardaghey and back to Ardara. This is traditionally a fast stage and was no different this year. The bunch stayed together until the half way stage when a small group broke away that included Halvey, team mates Eoghan McLaughlin, Alexis Roche, Ethan Downey (Island Wheelers) Sean Murnane (Cycling Leinster) and Donegal rider Michael McGlynn (Belgian Project). These were joined by Liam Hanley (Leinster) and Robbie McElderry (Bann Wheelers) and they stayed away from the rest of the bunch until the finish with McLaughlin taking the win and the first Yellow Jersey. Halvey and Roche completed the podium finishing on the same time.
Stage 2 was a 3.9km TT from Maloney’s Garage to the top of the Nick. Not only had the riders to deal with the steep climb but also heavy showers that didn’t make things easy for them. Calvin Moore (Caldwell Cycles) proved to be best able to deal with these conditions and was quickest with a time of 8’17.05, Dillon Corkery (NRPT) was 2 seconds behind the winner with Halvey in third in 8’21.05. This was enough to give Halvey the Leaders Jersey going into stage 3 with a 1 second lead over former leader McLaughlin.
Stage 3 involved a 3 lap 30km loop of the Ardara, Glenties, Kilclooney circuit. By the afternoon the weather was improved and the drying roads aided some fast action. The added incentive of time bonuses across the finishing line on laps 1 and 2 and the closeness of the top 10 on General Classification led to a lot of attacks from the start. A group of 7 riders which included McLaughlin and Corkery (NRPT), Moore (Caldwell Cycles), Caolem McCarter (Belgian Project) Conor Gallagher (Castlebar CC), Mark McKinley (Newry Wheelers) and Adam Ward (AAA) broke away from the bunch which included the race leader, Halvey. At one stage they had a lead of 45 seconds. With Halvey leading the chase from the bunch, this lead was brought down to 19 seconds. Some of the break group were caught before the finish but Ward (AAA) and the remnants of the break stayed away to take the win, Corkery (NRPT) was second with Hanley (Leinster) taking third. Eoghan McLaughlin regained the Yellow Jersey that he had lost earlier in the morning and now led by 2 seconds from Halvey and 4 seconds from Roche.
Stage 4 was the traditional Sunday 62 mile loop that included the climbs over the Nick, Ardaghey, Woodhill and culminating on the summit finish of Glengesh. This would be the stage where the race would be won and certainly lost with the aforementioned climbs potentially weakening the riders before the famous summit finish. There were 34 seconds separating the top 10 so anyone with any intention of winning the overall or retaining their GC position could not show any weakness. The attacks started from before the first climb on the Nick by Corkery (NRPT) and Ward (AAA). They were soon joined by Halvey and Sean Kennedy (NRPT), Conor Gallagher (Castlebar CC), Nathan Beard (Gala CC) and Mark McKinley (Newry Wheelers) and soon opened out to over a minute. By the second passage through Ardara there were only 4 left in the break and by the steep slopes of Glengesh there were only 3 riders in contention for the stage win. For the home supporters on Glengesh, Conor Halvey was amongst this group and hung on to take second place on the stage and a historic first Donegal overall win. His team mate Corkery took the stage win with Gallagher taking third on the stage
As well as winning the Yellow Jersey, Conor also won the Young Rider competition, Dillon Corkery won the Mountains Jersey, Nathan Beard won the Masters competition and Nicholas Roche Performance Team won the Team Classification. Other notable Donegal performances came from Michael McGlynn (Belgian Project) who finished 8th overall, Aaron McBride (Donegal Bay CC) 18th overall and Cormac Keaney (FTT Oslo) 19th overall. The event promoting club Four Masters CC had all 5 team members finish the race, Mark McGinley 32nd, Kevin Doherty 46th, Mitchell McLaughlin 52nd, Dinny Doherty, who has ridden this event many times in its 27 year history, 53rd and Keelan Carberry 75th.
Ras Dhun na nGall 2017 was a hard race won by a worthy champion and first Donegal winner, Conor Halvey. It had its fair share of excitement, fast racing and without the crashes which marred last year’s event. It would not go ahead without help from many people. Four Masters CC would like to thank the Nesbitt Arms Hotel and Ardara Traders and O’Malley Scanlon Insurances for their sponsorship of the event, the Race Commissaires, Officials and Timekeepers, the Red Cross and paramedics,who dealt with any incidents very efficiently, the Moto marshals and course marshals, the Gardai, everyone who drove lead cars and helped with neutral service, everyone who helped with sign-on each day, Tommy and Marian Lamb who looked after the PR, Maloney’s Texaco filling station and finally the riders and teams that competed on a hard weekend. We hope that you all had a good weekend and we will look forward to seeing you all next year.

Top 10 on General Classification
1. Halvey,Conor NRPT 6h20'38"
2. Corkery,Dillon NRPT 6h20'56" @18"
3. Gallagher,Conor Castlebar CC 6h21'13" @35"
4. Downey,Ethan Island Wheelers 6h21'47" @01'09"
5. McLaughlin,Eoghan NRPT 6h22'20" @01'42"
6. Roche,Alexis NRPT 6h22'42" @02'04"
7. Hanley,Liam Cycling Leinster 6h22'44" @02'06"
8. McGlynn,Michael Belgium Project 6h23'03" @02'25"
9. Moore,Calvin Caldwell Cycles 6h23'09" @02'31"
10. Ryall,Shane NRPT 6h23'11" @02'33"

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