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Irish Championships hailed as ‘best ever’

The Wheelers crew line up at the start of the men's race

The Wheelers crew line up at the start of the men’s race

THE All Ireland Cycling Championships which were staged in Omagh over the weekend have been hailed as the best ever.

Feedback from visiting competitors – many of them professionals – and clubs has been overwhelmingly positive and race director Stephen McKenna is satisfied he and host club Omagh Wheelers did their utmost to deliver an event to be proud of.

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One of the many congratulatory comments posted on social media hailed the event as “The best Irish Cycling Championships ever”.

The championships ran for three days in total beginning with a time trial event on Thursday evening on the Cookstown Road. Road races for ladies and the masters were staged on Saturday before spectators flocked into Omagh to see the senior men’s race on Sunday.

The 105-mile race was eventually won by amateur rider Damien Shaw from Mullingar who pulled clear of runner-up and teenage sensation Eddie Dunbar on the last of seven laps that passed through Omagh town centre. Hometown favourite Marc Potts produced a fantastic ride to finish fifth while fellow Wheeler Angus Fyffe crossed the line 14th.

The Wheelers were also well represented by Gary Donaldson, Davy McFall, Ivan Reid and McKenna himself who said racing through Omagh to the cheers of local people was an “incredible” feeling.

“Marc’s performance was fantastic and he really deserved it because from the start he was super aggressive,” said McKenna.

“The first lap was incredibly fast and he kept going and going until he was in the move. It wasn’t luck, it was effort and determination that got him there. Fifth in the Irish Championship is unbelievable and finishing ahead of top professionals. It was a cracking ride although I think Marc will feel himself he could have made it onto the podium the way the race had panned out. It was a fantastic result nonetheless.

“I was lucky enough to get in that break in the first lap as well, coming through the town for the first time I was hanging on the shirt tails you could say.

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“The sensation coming through was unbelievable. For Marc to stay in that move, Angus to get in the next and be well represented behind was great. The atmosphere in the town and around Killyclogher and so on was electric, people shouting, fantastic support. The lift that gave us as riders was incredible. Having that local support made a big difference, it gave you that boost you wouldn’t otherwise have had.”

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