IN a rare interlude of pleasant weather last Wednesday evening, 31 riders gathered on the feared Quarry Rd course to contest the final race of three for the right to claim the Gilchrist Cup – one of the most prestigious prizes in the club’s racing calendar.
Going in to the race the front runners on points from the previous two rounds were young James Curry – holding a four-point lead over Brian Curran who is having his best season for some years now and nine points ahead of Chris McCann, riding well in his first season.
The favourites were starting all together in the third group released on the road – over seven minutes behind under age Shenna McKiverigan who gallantly set off alone to try and keep the big field of pursuers at bay.
With group handicaps in play the stage was set for a closely fought race and that’s exactly how it turned out. The various groups started to whittle down the time advantages enjoyed by those in front of them over the course of the four laps of this 25 mile race but it was not until well into the third and fourth laps that the first three groups were together.
The stronger members of group three were riding hard at the front of the race on the final lap four and successfully holding an ever diminishing lead over group four which was being pushed along by Jude Sands and Gareth Rodgers.
A very strong scratch group, including Mark and Sean Downey and TVRs Davy McKnight guesting on the night, had caught group one and by lap four were also making relentless ground on the leading two groups on the road.
On the final stretch, from Garvaghy Post Office to the Quarry, the three leading groups gained sight of each other as the handicapping for the race was proving to be perfectly weighted. At this stage all riders were fighting for their lives as each group edged closer to the one in front.
At the final crucial turn uphill to the finish a frantic sprint within group three managed to hold off group four to the line, with an ecstatic young James Curry proving a very worthy winner not only of this race, but of the series.
James now lifts the Gilchrist Cup for the first and possibly not the last time.
Congratulations to James who posted two wins and a second place in the series in claiming the first of this seasons road race trophies.