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Newry 3 Day by Andy McGibbon

The Newry 3 Day is an annual stage race run by Newry Wheelers and one of the premier bike races in the Ulster calender.  Now in its 26th year Apollo Cycling Teamentered a four man team to see what these men of the road could do.  Junior McAuley, Tony Hare, Andy McGibbon and Robert Greer with team manager Usher Greer put on the yellow, pinned on the race numbers and headed into the Mournes to throw themselves against one of the hillier Newry 3 Days.

Stage one is the traditional start to the 3 day, 40 miles up and down the Newry to Warrenpoint dual carriageway , all flat until the last lap when the riders are taken up the fearsome Grinan road, a 1 mile climb which peaks at a gradient of 11% after which a 3 mile sprint to the finish line at St Marks school in Warrenpoint.  Spinter Andy McGibbon found himself well down after being distanced on the hill  with Tony Hare and Junior McAuley rolling in ahead of him but it was Apollos junior rider Robert Greer, a natural climber who found himself up in the first third of riders.
Stage two on Saturday morning was a short two and a half mile Time Trial followed by a 56 mile stage around Killcoo, Hilltown and Raithfriland culminating in two climbs over Reed Hall and Elm Hall.  Once again the sprinters in the team found themselves distanced on the last of the climbs but 17 year old Greer stayed in with the favourites over the climbs and moved up through GC in the top 25 with one stage remaining.
So to Sunday and stage four, the Queen stage and 72 miles from Newry to Newry via Bandbridge, Castlewellan and Raithfriland taking in four King Of The Hills and two passes over the terrifying Raithfriland.  The entire race stayed together until the first dig at Raithfirland when a few riders went out the back then on to the Seven Sisters climb, although not as steep as some that had been tackled this weekend, it is long and perfectly placed to cause the most damage in the peloton, and so it did, with riders going out the back with another pass over Raithfriland still to come.  Robert Greer and Junior McAuley managed to stay in the main pack.  After that it was a head down, maximum threshold 10 mile TT effort to the finishline.
In the end, after a dramatic 3 days, Apollo ended up 13th team in the overall standings but most importantly with their young rider Robert Greer in 22nd overall, a fantastic achievement from this 1st year rider.   Speaking with Junior McAuley afterwards he said “If Robert keeps improving like he has been he could win that race next year”
Over the four days the team and the race averaged 25mph, over 200 miles and 7000 feet of climbing.  The team are ready for a well earned rest, that is until the weekend, when it all starts agin.
Newry 3 Day Garmin data.  2013.
Stage 1 http://connect.garmin.com/activity/334846190 (averages lowered on this stage because I forgot to turn Garmin off over finish line)
Stage 2 http://connect.garmin.com/activity/334846160 (averages lowered on this stage because I forgot to turn Garmin off over finish line)
Stage 3 http://connect.garmin.com/activity/334846146 (averages lowered on this stage because I forgot to turn Garmin off over finish line)
Stage 4 http://connect.garmin.com/activity/335361379 (averages lowered on this stage because I forgot to turn Garmin off over finish line)

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