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91-year-old action man took on part of NI Giro route

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One of those who was doing more than just watching in the build-up to the Giro was 91-year-old John McKeag.

The Dundonald runner and cyclist went on a 54-mile bike trip on Sunday with hundreds of others (including 86-year-old brother Milton), taking in parts of the course which the competitors themselves will travel on Saturday.

He spoke of encountering pink sheep, a pink tractor, and a raft of towns in Co Antrim with Giro paraphernalia on display as the locals got into the spirit of the race.

It took him from the Titanic Quarter heading northwards, then turning east to hit the coast and cycling south through Whitehead and Carrickfergus.

The full day’s course for the competitors will take them 136 miles; inland all the way to the north coast, and then hugging the coast on the return journey to Belfast.

Former shipyard worker Mr McKeag, whose home is filled with sports medals dating back to 1940, said: “It’s very scenic. But the most scenic part for them will probably be Portrush to Belfast when they’ll be hugging the coastline.

“In a way, these guys won’t be seeing much of the scenery. But the coverage of the TV will show all these scenic parts. It’s going to put Northern Ireland on the map.”

Mr McKeag, a widower who used to cycle from Lisbane to the shipyard every day, clocking up tens upon tens of thousands of miles on his bicycle, said: “Even people who don’t know about cycling are talking about the Giro. I’ll never see this again in my lifetime, so we have to embrace it.

“I would say ‘welcome’ to all the different nations that are coming here, and enjoy our hospitality – which will be second to none.”

 

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