Banbridge CC will once again take on the top teams in Ireland along with visitors from the UK over the Easter weekend.
Following a successful return to the International Tour of the North in 2015, the local club will again challenge this year.
Last year, they won the first stage with Gareth McKee taking the leader’s yellow jersey while Mark Downey would also claim the Under 23 White jersey, which he would go on to win.
The club will have a hard time replicating that success but are hungry to give it a go and if recent form is anything to go by, they are well prepared.
Leading the team will be Gareth McKee. Alonside him will be Lindsay Watson, a member of neighbouring off road club Plush MTB who will once again be a guest rider for Bann.
Matthew Adair will also line up for the team following a convincing win at the St Patrick’s Day race in Derrymacash and will look forward to the opportunity of taking on the International competition.
James Curry, the final member of the team, is once again showing good form following a nasty crash at the season opening Annaclone GP where he fell heavily while leading out the sprint for victory.
The Ards and North Down Borough Council are main sponsors of the four day five stage event which takes place during the Easter weekend (Friday 25th-Monday 28th March), and so the prestigious race will take place in Portaferry and the Ards and North Down area.
Last year’s King of the Hills and overall runner up Ronan McLaughlin is back in a strong Carn Wheelers squad. Other notable entries include Fraser Duncan (Asea Wheelworx) who won three road stages in 2014 and Derek Finnegan (Keevan CC) who won the final stage in Carrickfergus back in 2011.
Jake Hales (Spirit Bikes Racing Team) from England has been among the front runners in recent years while up and coming riders such as Craig Rea (Phoenix CC) and Foyle CC’s Ryan Reilly should feature in the top placings.
A total of 100 riders will compete with teams from Ireland, North and South, Scotland, England and Holland. Racing begins on Friday night and finishes on Easter Monday after a distance of 270 miles.