Bann pair race with the best at MTB World Champs

Banbridge CC is a breeding ground for professional cyclists.

Thursday, 30th June 2016, 7:54 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:45 pm
James Curry is off to compete against the worlds best this weekend. INBL1608-215EB

Mark Downey and Mark Teggart have both proved that in recent seasons, moving on to race full-time in France.

And now James Curry is hoping to turn that duo into a trio.

He’s taking another step forward in his career this season, his first year as an Under 23 rider, but he has his sights on a future as a pro.

Banbridge CC rider Gareth McKee isn't putting any pressure on himself for a big result. INBL1624-270PB

He’s looking to fire down another marker with an impressive display at this weekend’s MTB World Championships.

Curry, along with fellow Banbridge CC man Gareth McKee, is set for the Czech Republic, where he will race on Saturday.

Starting towards the back of the field due to a lack of UCI points, Curry will have a tough time trying to pick his way through the pack.

He knows any sort of progress will mark a successful weekend.

Banbridge CC rider Gareth McKee isn't putting any pressure on himself for a big result. INBL1624-270PB

“The first year in a new category is really all about getting experience and progressing, then looking to better that in the following years,” he said.

“The first five minutes will probably be the most important of the whole race.

“Starting at the back, that’s when you can look to make some ground through the field but after that, it gets tough to get much further ahead.

“In the next two or three seasons, I want to be going semi-professional and following the footsteps of Matthew Teggart and Mark Downey.

Until then, it’s all about getting some big results and getting my name out there.”

Curry has done that already this season thanks to his biggest ever road victory in the Ras Dhun na nGall and also selection for the Ulster team for the Beaumont Trophy.

Alongside James in this weekend’s World Championships is Gareth McKee, who steps up to the elite section for the first time.

“I’m not going over there with too many expectations because I have to start at the back of the grid as well,” he said.

“It will be a great experience though and great to race alongside the calibre of guys that are going to be out there. I’ll do my best and see where I can get to.”

Gareth will be up against Olympic-bound cyclists but racing at the top level will be nothing new. He is currently sitting 15th after four rounds of the British Cross Country Series.

“I’m happy enough with my race race results,” he said.

“I’ve had a good couple of races on the road as well in the Tour of the North and the Tour of Ulster.”

In the hectic life of a rider balancing road racing and MTB, the duo’s next big race is the Irish National MTB Championships in Bellurgan Park on July 17.