Conor Murphy, of local team Caldwell Cycles Omagh, continues to display great form after taking a well deserved fourth place overall at the 3 day Tour of Ulster road race.
The seven times Tour of Ulster stage winner began his weekend poorly after getting a puncture 30 miles into stage 1. With a bad wheel change from neutral service Murphy then had to get his team mechanic to refit another wheel 5 miles later and then the chase for the bunch was on. After chasing hard for almost an hour by himself Murphy managed to get back to the peloton and finished the 100 mile stage in the main bunch along with his guest teammates for the weekend Adam Armstrong and Sean Hahessy, 44 seconds down from the leader and stage winner Greg Swinard of Dublin based outfit UCD.
On day 2 however Murphy was to the fore, and in the first 6 mile of the race and split the bunch with some ferocious attacking from himself and former Tour of the North winner Adam Armstrong. Coming to the first KOH of the day the bunch had reduced to a select group of thirty riders that continued to put time between themselves and the chasing riders.
With 75 miles done and a 14 minute gap back to the chase group a 3 man breakaway containing Aquablue pair Damien Shaw and Brian McCrystal along with An Post pro rider Marcus Christie formed at the front of the race over the Glenshane pass climb. It was left to Murphy and the team of yellow jersey rider UCD to take up the chase.
Coming to the line Murphy proved fastest of the chasing bunch and took a fine fourth, 15 seconds down on the stage winner Damien Shaw (Aquablue). The third and final stage started in Maghera with Murphy lying in tenth place, 42 seconds down on yellow jersey man Swinard. With the torrential rain and high winds it was going to be a day for the strongest and bravest men to make their moves.
In the first five miles and with a 38mph average it was the turn of Caldwell Cycles Under 23 Irish International guest rider Sean Hahessy to go clear of the bunch along with three others.
After the race had made its way into Garvagh to start the first of six laps of a tough and demanding circuit Murphy made his move across to the breakaway group along with the yellow jersey man and a dozen of the other strongest riders. Going into the second lap the breakaway group had already put over a minute on the chase riders. After four laps of the hilly and testing circuit and and with some very aggressive riding some riders including Carrick man Hahessy lost touch with the breakaway group which was whittled down to just eight.
On the fifth lap it was the Aquablue pair of Shaw and McCrystal who proved too strong and they rode clear. Coming to the line it was McCrystal and Shaw two minutes clear and with the race wrapped up Murphy was just pipped to the line by Eion Morton, UCD, to take a fabulous fourth place in the overall GC standings against some of the top riders in Ireland.
This weekend Conorand his club mates head to the Tommy Givan Memorial race on Saturday and Emyvale Grand Prix on Sunday.
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