Road racing season gets underway for Banbridge cyclists

BANBRIDGE Cycling Club’s Individual Road Race League for 2012 got underway with the first of 21 races in the series on the Rathfriland Road on Wednesday 18 April.

Weather conditions were mild, with the roads dry, some broken sunshine and a temp of 10c. Winds, like those of previous weeks were gusting again and would prove to be a challenge for those participating, with the wind again from the north at 10mph offering a tailwind out and a headwind on the return.  With this being the first event of the season in the individuals competition, it was fantastic to see 33 club riders turnout, in addition to three club friends, namely Sean Downey (An Post) , Davey McKnight (TVR) and Daniel Gordon (West Down Wheelers) all putting in superb timings of 21.10, 23.41 and 24.42 respectively. Within the club it was pleasing to welcome six new riders into the club race scene, with the best of the newcomers Neil Beattie posting a time of 29.35 (20.28mph). On the night 24 riders went under their handicap target times, highlighting the difficulties in getting handicapping right for everyone in the early races - this said such difficulties should not undermine the hard work done by many over the winter. With results ordered using actual times against target times, it was Ciaran Magill who takes the honours in the first race of the season (Weir Cup race 1 of 2). Ciaran recorded a time of 28.45 (20.87mph) over 2 mins under his target, having competed in only the 2 Ups last year with times high in the 32 min bracket. Second on the night was Ronnie Massey with a totally unexpected time of 27.25 (21.88mph) with third an improving James Curry with a time of 28.16 (21.22mph). Fastest actual times of the night belonged to Matt Adair 23.22 (25.67mph), Mark Downey 24.25 (24.57mph) and Kevin McAlinden 24.32 (24.45mph). Other rides of worthy mention were David Montgomery coming back from a broken wrist recording a time of 26.44 (22.44mph), Gareth McKee 24.45 (24.24mph) and Dan Purdy now recording times in the low 26 min bracket with a time of 26.11 (22.91mph). Tomorrow (Wednesday) the series continues with race 2 and a 10mile TT (Wills Cup) on the Lurgan Rd out of Dromore. Once again if I can ask members for your support whether racing or not, as often marshalling requirements can go unnoticed. Massive thanks to Ivor our time keeper, who was seriously under pressure with riders still to depart as the early riders were returning. It would be helpful if competitors could refrain from seeking confirmation of their times until the last rider finishes. The Sun Shines for the Lakeland Grand Prix - Fermanagh was the place to be last Saturday as showery conditions at home gave way to blue skies and sunshine for the annual Lakeland GP promoted by Enniskillen’s Lakeland Wheelers.

The 45 mile race followed the Shore Road alongside Lower Lough Erne towards Belleek before turning inland around the back of Lough Navar Forest returning to the Shore Road with 7.5 miles to the finish outside Enniskillen.

Four Banbridge riders competed in this race – Kevin McAlinden in the A3s and a three man team in the Over 50s race – Phillip Beattie, Paul McGuckin and Ian Cochrane.

Kevin was very happy with his eighth place in the 80 strong A3 field and worked extremely hard to summit the 6k climb to Lough Navar with the leaders. The hammer went down from there to the finish with a six man break crossing the line just ahead of a second group with the Banbridge rider well to the fore.

The Over 50s race followed a similar pattern with a five man split containing Phillip and Paul opening up the crucial break on the same climb. Both riders rode with the others to ensure that they all stayed away for the remaining 12 miles of the race. In a tight sprint Phillip finished an excellent third with Paul following in fourth but these placings together with Ian’s gutsy sixth place earned Banbridge CC a welcome first place in the Over 50’s team series – well worth the long journey.

Banbridge Juniors In Great Form - Once again the junior talent in Banbridge CC has risen to the very top – this time in a national standard junior stage road race ,the Ras na Og, held at the weekend and promoted by Drogheda Wheelers under the auspices of Cycling Ireland.

The races were for Under 16s and under 14’s and the Banbridge club were represented by Mark Downey, Matty Teggart and Gareth Hillen in the U16s and by Shenna McKiverigan and Shannon Buller in the U14s.

The first stage in the U16 race on Saturday morning hinted at things to come when Mark finished second and Matty third in the criterion race and followed up with a third and seventh place in the short afternoon road race. This left the two Banbridge lads first and second in the overall classification after day one.

The third stage – a longer road stage saw all three Banbridge riders working superbly as a team to clinch a second place for Mark and a fifth place for Matty - enough to secure an astounding first and second place in the overall classification – in what was in effect a race containing the best 70 riders at this level in Ireland.

A special mention is due to their team-mate Gareth Hillen who, although competing in only his third open race, managed to finish midfield in every stage while contributing massively to Mark and Matty’s success.

Indeed only one point separated Banbridge CC from the team prize which was won by the Munster provincial team

Our young ladies also excelled themselves and did the club proud in completing their 3 stage race at U14 girls in which they had to race against U14 boys as well as U16 girls. After finishing in the bunch in stage one Shenna McKiverigan sprinted to a great win as first girl in stage 2.

Stage 3 saw both girls working well as a team and at 13 and 14 years of age respectively it was an outstanding performance to finish 19th and 23rd overall in the race.

This event and the success achieved will certainly boost the confidence of these riders as they prepare for the UK School Games to be held in a few weeks time. Credit is of course also due to their coaches and mentors within the club who can, no doubt, look forward to continued success for these talented young riders.