THE first of the two race series for the Maxwell Cup took place last Wednesday evening on the challenging Annaclone circuit.
An excellent turnout of 39 riders signed on and it was pleasing to welcome a good turnout from both of our neighbouring clubs - TVR Racing and West Down Wheelers, which always adds to the excitement of the race for both spectators and competitors.
A welcome interval in the recent appalling weather contributed to a great race night.
This being a handicap event, the starters were, as usual, divided into five groups and handicapped according to time trial performances and general form .
The gaps from the front (limit) group to the others were thus set at three minutes, 5min 30sec, eight minutes and 9mins 45sec to scratch.
These intervals presented a significant challenge to all groups but over the three laps, each just over eight miles, they proved to be just right on the night with all coming together over the final mile and a half from the finish.
The first coming together was that of the limit group and their chasers in group four which was driven hard by Paul Anderson to catch their prey on lap two. This enlarged group was duly hunted down by the hard charging Brian Curran, Garth McGreevy and young James Curry leading a well-oiled group three in seizing their prey midway round lap two.
Meanwhile scratch and group one were making appropriate gains on Group Two in which Paul Carlisle and Jude Sands were forcing the pace ably supported by Ian Cochrane and Phil Beattie.
By the end of lap two however, group two had absorbed all of the earlier starters and, working well together, harboured thoughts of a winner coming from their group as the remaining miles of lap three were ticked off. Never a good idea!
The first whiff of their chasers was picked up on the long fast descent to the tricky Diamond turn for Katesbridge. With help from a few of the group three riders, notably Brian Curran and Gareth Rogers and Scott Daly, the pace was increased even further.
Unfortunately for Group 2/3 the chasers included some hard riding TVRs and Wheelers along with our own fast men Simon Curry, Mark Downey and Matty Teggart.
Everyone came together on the back section from Katesbridge to the finish and the last mile witnessed an ever changing kaleidoscope of riders jockeying for position as the finish line drew nearer.
With some deft manoeuvres, performed at breakneck speed, Mark Downey and Matty Teggart emerged from the pack to clinch a brilliant first and second with surprise package Jude Sands from Group Three executing a last minute charge up the hill for a great third place – his first placing in this his first season in bike racing. Strong man Phil Beattie from Group Three claimed a well-deserved fourth place with Scott Daly and James Curry finishing off the top six.
This was an excellent nights racing with much of the credit for a smooth running event due to the competent officials at the start and finish and of course to the all important marshalls without whom racing would simply be impossible. The riders would like to record their appreciation of the efforts of both .
Success for young Banbridge riders in Ards and Newry criterium races - Last week town centre races, known as ‘Crits’, were held in Newtownards and Newry.
These are generally action packed events with fast point to point racing over numerous short laps making these races particularly attractive for spectators. At Newtownards the under 12 race (boys and girls) was won by Banbridge’s Shenna McKiverigan – confirming the promise being shown by this young rider all season – both on track and road.
In the Novice event younger sister Niamh placed fourth and was first girl home - a future star in the making?
The following evening the action moved to Newry town centre. This time Shenna moved up to the U14s and even with the stronger opposition finished fifth and again was ist girl home, while once again Niamh was first girl home in the Novice race.
In hotly contested U16 race Matty Teggart was up against the short course specialists but still managed a creditable fourth place.
Readers may be interested to know that Banbridge CC will once again be promoting an open Criterium race on the evening of Friday July 6 at the Outlet venue which proved so successful last year.
It’s a chance to see some local race action with riders always in view and the outcome unpredictable. Further details will be announced in due course.