ROUND 10 of 21 in this year’s Road Race League saw competition for the Fusco Cup.
This is a 25 mile TT held on the Castlewellan Road, which unlike most other club competitions has the final placings decided using actual times as opposed to being offset by handicapping.
With the changeable weather conditions witnessed over the past few weeks it was much the same on the evening with most competitors having departed in dry conditions but having to brave continuous rain for the larger part of the race.
Still, you can only get so wet and with temperatures of 19c it was largely the headwind on the outward leg that will have tested riders most.
Looking at the times then it seems most were a little down on the same test a fortnight ago, however several still managed to better their individual targets. Quickest time of the night and winner of the Fusco Cup was Matt Adair with a time 0f 62:36 (23.96mph), with second placed Adrian Finnegan 3:19 down at 65:55 (22.75mph). Third placed was Dan Purdy at 66:12 (22:66mph) with fourth and fifth Phil Beattie 66:33 (22.54mph) and Simon Curry 67:50 (22.11mph).
Given the rolling nature of the course and the weather conditions these were all excellent times.
With the inclusion of handicapping in order to award league points it was Chris Burns who came out top to earn the 40 points for first, followed by Graham McCracken 4:30 quicker than his time a fortnight ago earning him 39 points, then Chris McCann taking third and 38 points.
The Road Race League table after 10 rounds has seen some significant change over the last 3 weeks. Jude Sands in his first year now sits at the head of the field with 323 points and is a worthy leader having improved week after week in every competition, both RR and TT. Second place on 301 points and having a great season is now Brian Curran, his highest place in this last two seasons having been steady throughout the year to this point. Third placed and doggedly defending last year’s League title, although maybe slightly distracted by some great endeavours in the provincial Veterans League is holder Paul McGuckin back on 295 points.
The next race on Wednesday July 4 sees a return to the difficult Quarry Rd circuit for the final round of the 3 race series for the Gilchrist Cup. This should be an interesting race with young James Curry leading the field and poised to lift the cup but holding only a four point lead over Brian Curran. New member Chris McCann lurks a further five points behind.
Banbridge MTB riders triumph in Davagh Forest - The final round of the Irish NPS series took place over the weekend in Davagh forest Omagh. The weather had been very unkind to Carn Wheelers with lots of heavy rain over the past few weeks, luckily it was dry on the day off the event. The underage riders were off first with a great turn out of riders representing Banbridge CC. In the under 8s category Sam Baird finished sixth, Jack Baird, James Buller and Christopher Curry finished 3rd 4th and 5th in the under 10 category. Richard Biard finished a strong second place in the under 14 category with Shannon Buller taking the honours of first girl.
Unfortunately Mark Buller was taken to hospital after injuring his knee in a nasty crash. All members wish him a speedy recovery.
Meanwhile James Curry took an impressive win in the under 16 category after beating his main competition that he had been battling with all year, and with Joseph Baird finishing a good fourth this was a great outing for the Banbridge pair. The senior riders were next up with a number of riders representing Banbridge CC. In the Senior 2 and Junior race there were three riders from Banbridge CC with David Montgomery took a very impressive win in both categories after catching and passing most of the Senior 1 field except the top 2! Simon Curry and William Mulligan also finished strongly after a tough race. The ultra- tough five lap Senior 1 race saw a marvellous Banbridge triumph with its riders filling all three podium places. Roger Aiken riding for Banbridge CC took top honours from Gareth McKee and Mathew Adair - both riding in Chain Reaction Vitus colours - finishing second and third, making it three Banbridge men on the podium.
Gareth McKee Stars in Newry 3 Day - Banbridge CC were somehow limited to a sole entrant for this four-stage race held over Friday, Saturday and Sunday last week.
The total distance covered was 165miles with 87 starters. Leading riders averaged 25.22mph for the race. Despite having to ride without team mates a super strong Gareth was unanimously hailed as the star of the show by spectators, officials and most importantly by his fellow competitors who witnessed his attacking style of racing at first hand.
Indeed on the final stage, having been in the leading break for most of the day Gareth had a chance to take the overall win as he was well clear of the 25 second starting deficit to the leader.
He did take first place on all three King of the Hill climbs, before being reeled in eight miles from the finish yet somehow found the strength to attack once again to everyone’s astonishment!
Naturally that final flourish did not last but Gareth still managed to finish with the bunch for a superb fourth place overall in GC, a mere 20 sec behind the winner!
However it was on stage three, finishing on top of the infamous Spelga climb, that Gareth first made his mark. After riding top class men off his wheel in the break, he was finally caught only through the efforts of the four-strong Newry Wheelers team which reduced his two minute lead to 40 seconds as he started the final climb to the line.
Riding up Spelga is no fun – racing up it is hell on earth and when Gareth was finally caught with less than 250 metres to the finish the effort that he was expending was there for all to see. A truly superb effort and a fifth place stage finish that was the talk of the peleton.
However by the end of the race Gareth had won the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey by a street ,which ,together with his fourth place overall, represented a mammoth achievement for this young rider in such a gruelling event. Credit is also due to his team car crew of Kevin McAlinden and Simon Curry who supported Gareth’s efforts every mile of the way.