Martin takes chequred flag at Annaclone GP
BANBRIDGE CC kicked off the Irish Cycling racing season in style on Saturday with the Travers Engineering Annaclone Grand Prix.
Being the first race of the road season demand was always going to be high for the 120 places on offer across the two races.
With a new rider category system, organisation for the first race of the season was always going to be a challenge. For 2010 there are four categories available for the riders, A1 - A4, depending on points accumulated at races. It is encouraged that A4 category riders do not compete against A1 category riders, therefore two races were held to cater for all.
The ‘A’ race was a handicapped affair catering for A1, 2 and 3's. This started off with about 30 A3 riders in the limit group who were given a head start over the 18 A2 riders who had a further handicap over the seven A1 riders.
This race was over five laps of the 13km undulating course and the seven man scratch group of A1 riders wasted no time in catching the A2's by the end of the first lap.
The large A3 group rode well together to hold off the now combined group of A1's and 2's until the end of the penultimate fourth lap.
On the final lap a group of riders, including pre race favourites, Ryan Connor (Usher IRC) and Thomas Martin (EuroCyles), along with Johnny Cole (Team Madigan), Damien McDonnell (Dromara CC) and Nathan McAleer, moved clear of the bunch and stayed clear to contested the sprint. Thomas Martin (EuroCycles) from Lurgan, held off Ryan Connor (Usher IRC) in the sprint to claim the first victory of 2010.
Liam Curran (Curran Racing) led the remainder of the main bunch home to complete the top six. Don Travers was the first of the local Banbridge CC riders home in 11th place, obviously holding some form from competing in the recent Cyclo Cross National Champs, while Simon Curry followed close behind.
Peter Lilley had the misfortune to suffer a puncture on the third lap while mountain bike downhill champ Gareth McKee made his debut on the road and rode strongly to finish after a long, cold day in the saddle.
The ‘B’ race started only a couple of minutes after the ‘A’ race. The ‘B’ race was a massed start, consisting only of A4 riders. Covering the same course and also having to complete five laps meant the riders wouldn't be in for an easy day.
With riders attempting to break clear on the first lap, it proved to be a hard fought race. Despite numerous attacks the race came down to a mass bunch sprint. A blast from the past, Terry Mackin from Banbridge CC, proved he still had some racing class despite a 15 year break from the sport and claimed a popular victory, much to the delight of the cheering supporters.
Terry started his sprint early and quickly opened a gap to take the win comfortably from James McFerran of neighbouring club Dromara CC. John Smyth (Phoenix CC), Paul McMenamin (Omagh Wheelers), Colin Scullion (Ballymena RC) and William Larmour (Audi East Antrim) completed the top six.
Banbridge CC riders William Mulligan, Daniel Purdy, Michael Curran, Matt Adair, Stephen O'Hagan and John Runciman all finished comfortably in the bunch.
Many thanks to the riders, marshals, drivers, Cycling Ireland Commissaires for their efforts to ensure a safe race for all involved.
The race organisers from Banbridge CC would also like to thank the long standing sponsorship and support from Travers Engineering and The Hawthorn Inn for the use of its premises and the much welcomed hot soup after a cold day's racing.
'A' Race Results : 1st, Thomas Martin (EuroCycles) 1hr 43mins 29secs; 2nd, Ryan Connor (Usher Irish RC); 3rd, Jonny Cole (Team Madigan); 4th, Nathan McAleer (Curran Racing); 5th, Damien McDonnell (Dromara CC); 6th, Liam Curran (Curran Racing).
'B' Race Results: 1st, Terry Mackin (Banbridge CC) 1hr 48mins 40secs; 2nd, James McFerran (Dromara CC); 3rd, Paul Smyth (Phoenix CC); 4th, Paul McMenamin (Omagh Wheelers); 5th, Colin Scullion (Ballymena RC); 6th, William Lamour (Audi East Antrim).