‘WINTER miles, smiles’.
This is a quote many riders have most likely been living by all winter, and there’s only one way to find out if all that interval training and gym sessions have paid off: enter a bike race.
On the opening weekend of Ulster’s cycling season local riders where spoilt for choice with the races available to them, with three races happening in Ulster and one race taking place in Dundalk.
Dromara Cycling Club where well represented in all the Ulster races, in both road racing and mountain biking, with all riders hoping that their winter training programme has paid off.
The first race of the season was held on Saturday 23rd February, which was the traditional season opener, the Travers Engineering Annaclone Grand Prix, promoted by Banbridge CC. Dromara CC had nine riders competing in both the A1/2/3 race and the A4 race. The race was held on a clear dry day with the hassle of sub-zero temperatures having the riders wrap up warm for the 40 mile race.
First off was the A1/2/3 race with Ronnie Smyth, Marty McAnulty, Anthony Quinn and Zak Hanna in the starting pack They had to complete five laps of the rolling 7.8 mile, and the pace was to be high from the start with attacks going after the first corner.
After nearly two hours of racing the finish was beckoning and around the corner came Marc Potts of Omagh Wheelers on a solo run ahead of the bunch crossing the line as the winner with North Pole CC’s Aaron MacBride coming in second and Peter Kennedy of East Antrim-Audi in third. Ronnie, Anthony and Marty all finished comfortably in the bunch.
In the A4 race Dromara were represented by Barry Van Kellett, David Hawthorne, Tommy Downey, newcomer Nathan Mullan and Stephen Wallace, and they too had to complete five laps of the circuit. Like the other race there were riders trying to get away by attacking the peloton, but there were only two riders who managed to do just that and stay away from the chasing pack. These two approached the finishing line with Curran Racing’s David Hamilton taking the victory from Apollo CT’s James Wilson, and the bunch came in behind for a sprint for third place with Dromara’s Nathan Mullan coming an excellent fourth place in what was his first ever road race.
As for Barry, David, Tommy and Stephen they all finished comfortably in the bunch and they can only progress as the season goes on, there’s lots more races to be completed so it’s early days yet!
On behalf of all the riders in the club, I would like to congratulate Nathan Mullan on his fourth place finish in the A4 race at Annaclone; he only took up cycling a few months ago and it’s clear that his winter training has paid off!
*PHOENIX GP - Dromara CC had three women competing in the Women’s Race at the Phoenix GP at Nutts Corner. The three women, Lisa Millar, Bernie Monaghan and Alywynne Shannon, all rode well in the bunch but it was Alywynne who was the highest placed Dromara rider, coming home in seventh place, strong riding from her throughout.
Well done to all the Dromara women in that race.
*XMTB-MCCONVEY CYCLES SPRING LEAGUE - The second round of the ever popular XMTB-McConvey Cycles Spring League took place on Sunday in Ormeau Park, Belfast.
Representing Dromara was over 20 keen mountain bikers who gathered in the park for an afternoon of exciting racing ranging from under 6s right up the Adults’ ‘Fun’ race, and Dromara riders were present almost every race, showing the growing popularity of the sport in the club, a fantastic sight to see.
There were some excellent performances by the riders who were keen to see if they could finish higher up the results sheet after the last round, or even better get onto the podium.
Well done to all the riders who competed in this round of the Spring League, the last and final round will be held on March 3 at the same venue.
Now that the season has well and truly started, it won’t be long until the ever popular club league starts, as well as the mountain bike leagues and a club trip to Majorca in April, so there’s plenty to get excited about!