Bann CC all geared up for more success as Sean is back in the yellow jersey

Sean Downey will be back in Banbridge colours this year. Pic Colm O'Reilly
Sean Downey will be back in Banbridge colours this year. Pic Colm O'Reilly

How do you improve on perfection?

Alright so Banbridge Cycling Club’s 2015 wasn’t quite perfect, but it’s going to be pretty hard to beat.

Several riders shining on an international platform, there was success at home and abroad, culminating the club being recognised as Irish Club of the Year.

Now they’re all geared up to begin it all again, with their own season-opening race at the Annaclone GP this weekend.

So how can they look to follow up on last season’s list of accolades.

“We’ll just try and build on it,” laughs the club’s race director Aaron Wallace.

And why not? The club will even be buoyed by the return of a Bann hero this year as Sean Downey will again don the yellow jersey.

The 25 year-old Commonwealth bronze medal winner announced his retirement from professional cycling at the end of last season and is set to race for hometown club Bann this year.

Not only will the Dromore man be a huge asset to Bann’s hopes in races like this year’s Tour of the North, Wallace was also hopeful his presence will spur on a lot of the club’s up and coming riders.

There are, of course, plenty of those with the likes of James Curry, Cameron McIntyre and Ulster Junior rider John Buller to look out for.

But Bann are producing quality riders at all ages and Aaron pointed to two more senior riders that could be worth a watch this season.

“We have Mark Kendall, a former international runner, who impressed in his first season with the club last year. He’s definitely one to keep an eye out for in results this year, as is Matthew Adair, who was racing with the Ulster Under 23 team and is now back in Banbridge colours.”

They will be looking to add to last year’s numerous successes, such as the famous July day, when five Bann riders were crowned national champions.

And Aaron reckons that the structures are in place to help all the club’s riders to more victories this year.

He said: “We haven’t had that much success since the likes of John Grant and Tommy Evans were riding for the club.

“A lot of it is probably down to those sort of guys coming back and getting involved in the club again. Neil Teggart is doing coaching sessions with the back and Tommy has come back into the club again.”

Aaron was keen to point to the strength in depth that exists in the club, throughout all levels on cycling.

He said: “I don’t know if our membership has got any bigger but we have more people getting actively involved in the club. There’s a really good feeling about the club. If you look down the race categories, we have racers at all levels.

“Without sounding too cheesy, everyone’s being inspired by those guys at the top and the younger riders coming up are looking at the people winning races and really getting driven on.

“We also have to thank a lot of the volunteers, from race promotions, coaching, organising racing and training or whatever, they really drive the club on.”

And those volunteers will have more hard work ahead this summer as Banbridge town centre again welcomes a National Criterium race.

That’s just one race of what it set to be another big season for Banbridge CC, and the wheels for that get in motion in Annaclone this weekend.