One of the largest turnout of club members to an event in recent years witnessed the extraordinary success of their top cyclo-cross riders in the recent Irish National Cyclo-cross Championships held in Lady Dixon Park, Belfast.
Undoubted star of the meeting, promoted by Phoenix CC, was the irrepressible Roger Aiken –Banbridge CC’s current Irish Cyclo-cross Champion.
Roger’s power and technical ability combined to blow apart a field comprising the finest cyclo-cross riders in Ireland to retain his Irish title with almost two minutes to spare at the line.
The runner up on this occasion was none other than Robin Seymour – an eighteen times winner of the Irish title – and this underlines the scale of Roger’s achievement. Roger himself believed that to retain the title, which he won last year in Dundalk, was always going to be more difficult so he was clearly as delighted with the outcome as the huge band of club colleagues supporting him all around the course.
Banbridge riders Matt Adair and David Montgomery produced great rides to take gold and silver medal places in the Mens U23 Category while finishing sixth and eighth overall. Our wily campaigner Don Travers doggedly stuck to the task of completing his 16th National Championship race to finish in a very respectable 20th place in this elite level event.
The day started with the Senior and U16 Support Race at 11am and covered five laps of the course. Banbridge representation in this race rested on the shoulders of two of the most promising young prospects - Cameron McIntyre and Shenna McKiverigan. Once again they both produced outstanding rides in difficult conditions over a gruelling course to win their respective categories, with Cameron riding through the entire field of senior riders to take first place as well as the Boys U16 award. Shenna outlasted all of her competitors in the Girls U16 race. The performance of these two riders was a foretaste of things to come later in the day and provided an early indication of the strength of the Banbridge CC presence at the venue.
Vets, Ladies and Junior Race
The prelude to the Elite event was the Vets, Ladies and Junior Race over seven laps of the course. Once again, Banbridge CC was well represented in the field with Willie Mulligan, Dan Purdy, Ian Cochrane and Stephen Prentice all competing in the Vets race with James Curry signing on in the Junior category. James quickly became involved in an epic struggle with fellow junior Rory Maguire from Phoenix CC for the overall winners podium spot – as well as the Junior gold medal.
James consistently outpaced Rory over the final three laps but just could not make up the final 10 seconds needed for victory. It was, however, a powerful performance to take runner up position overall and a well-earned silver medal in the Irish Junior Championship.
While James was battling at the head of the race, his team-mates in the Vets category found their technical skills being examined to the limit on the wet and greasy surfaces. All came proudly through the test to claim very respectable results in a large field of nearly 60 riders with Willie 21st, Dan Purdy 28th, Ian Cochrane in his first season 29th and Stephen Prentice 36th. While a little off the pace in this national level race, these riders epitomise the spirit of winter cyclo-cross competition, turning out week after week showing the club colours at events all over Ireland.
The clubs riders certainly delivered success aplenty in this premier event in the Irish cyclocross calendar. However, another Banbridge CC team was central to much of that success. The service team who were positioned at the top of the course in the wet and windy pits area toiled all day in the worst possible conditions power washing clogged up bikes to ensure that riders were able to swap bikes every few laps to maintain their challenge on efficient machinery.
A large team of helpers established and manned the Banbridge compound operating the power washers and preparing for the non-stop round of bike changes. To the fore there were Liam McKiverigan , Nichola Oldham, Phil Beattie, Gerry Beggs, Graham McIntyre, Maurice Mayne, Paul Anderson, Brian Curran, Simon Curry, Wilbur Aiken and of course many of the riders who turned up to help after their own races were over.
Liam and Nicola in particular remained at the heart of the effort all day concentrating on bike washes and handovers. Certainly the efforts of everyone were vital to the racing successes and greatly appreciated by all of the riders.
So the riders and the service team played their parts in making the day a huge success for the local club but many of the riders were also keen to emphasise the motivating influence of the large number of their club colleagues shouting support and encouragement around the course. It was indeed an all-round effort by Banbridge CC of which the club should be very proud.