CYCLING: Gareth McKee takes Yellow jersey on Tour of the North

Front  Mark Down (Banbridge CC) young rider white jersey and 3rd overall, Gareth McKee (Banbridge CC) Stage winner and yellow jersey, Ronan McLaughlin (Team Asea) wears the King of the Hills polka dot jerse y'Back - Joan McCullough (Race Director) Alan Mark (Chairman NICF)
Front Mark Down (Banbridge CC) young rider white jersey and 3rd overall, Gareth McKee (Banbridge CC) Stage winner and yellow jersey, Ronan McLaughlin (Team Asea) wears the King of the Hills polka dot jerse y'Back - Joan McCullough (Race Director) Alan Mark (Chairman NICF)
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Gareth McKee (Banbridge CC) wears the first yellow jersey of this year’s Tour of the North after winning Saturday’s opening stage through the Glens of Antrim.

McKee and Dutchman Thijs Nijvelct (WTOS-Delft) had surged ahead of the leading bunch after the last King of the Hills prime at Glenariffe.

Gareth McKee (Banbridge CC) takes the stage one win from Thjs Nijvelct (WTOS-Delft)

Gareth McKee (Banbridge CC) takes the stage one win from Thjs Nijvelct (WTOS-Delft)

During the last 10 miles they held a short lead which peaked at 20 seconds but in the closing miles the 40-strong bunch closed in rapidly.

At the finish line on Frys Road Ballymena, McKee was a clear winner ahead of Nijvelct while Mark Downey Banbridge CC, won the bunch gallop for third at six seconds.

Jake Hales (Spirit Bikes) and Arain Stalwijk (WTOS-Delft) were fourth and fifth while North Down CC’s Dave Watson took 6th despite crashing twice during the stage.

Ronan McLaughlin (Team Asea) leads the King of the Hills competition after scoring points in all four of the primes while Dromore man Mark Downey will wear the white jersey of leading young rider (under 23) tomorrow.

Sunday morning’s Stage 2 time trial of 4.6 miles will no doubt sort out the top of the general classification.

Full results on tourofthenorth.net and cyclingulster.com