Banbridge CC’s Kevin McAlinden and Nathan Sturrock took on one of the most gruelling races in Ulster last week.
Promoted by Ballymena Chain Reation, the Wallace Caldwell Cup is generally accepted as one of the premier races in the calendar.
The route, which starts at Calgorm outside Ballymena, is almost 75 miles long and takes in two serious climbs near the midway point through the forests at Cam and Springwell not far from Limavady.
The race caters for the top three categories and is not one to enter unprepared.
Two Banbridge CC riders presented at the start line. Kevin McAlinden and Nathan Sturrock have both been competing regularily in A3 races this season, although Nathan is still gaining experience in the grade while Kevin is a hardened campaigner.
Both riders completed the course. Kevin had an excellent race finishing strongly in a small group of A2s and A3s some minutes down on the leading A1s and A2s, who broke away on the second of the two climbs.
After a disappointing Tour of the Mournes the previous weekend, this performance represented a welcome return to form for Kevin.
Nathan, however, lost contact with the main bunches of riders around the half-way mark and despite persistent effort, just couldn’t regain contact.
Rather than packing the race, Nathan showed great spirit to fight his way to a lonely finish and will certainly benefit from this hard experience on the tough course in future races.