Just when the members of Banbridge Cycling Club thought their 2015 season was all but wrapped up and were reflecting on a string of achievements both on and off the bike at last week’s club awards dinner, the committee had one more message of success after returning from the Annual Cycling Ireland Awards night in Dublin.
The Banbridge club were announced as the Irish Cycling Club of the Year for 2015, with club Chairman Maurice Mayne on hand to collect the trophy on behalf of the club. Also in attendance were members of the committee along with riders James Curry and Gareth McKee. McKee was also nominated for Irish Domestic Rider of the year and finished a fine 2nd place behind National Road Champion Damien Shaw.
The award and recognition comes for the club following a hugely successful year. On the road the club had entered their first team for the Tour of the North in a number of years, but with a focus on younger developing riders the team surpassed all expectations when they won the first stage with Gareth McKee claiming the leader’s yellow jersey. Mark Downey was also highly placed and would claim the under 23 white jersey, which the team would defend and eventually win that category ahead of a strong international field. Junior riders Cameron McIntyre and James Curry both represented the club, Ulster and Ireland abroad while winning regularly at home.
Off the road the club famously won 5 individual Irish National Championship titles at the 2015 National MTB XC Championships with riders in Youth (Boys & Girls), Junior, Senior & Masters categories – this is believed to be the largest ever haul at a National Championships by any Irish club. Gareth McKee who won the Elite XC title would also go on to win the Marathon National Championships before representing Ireland at the World Championships in Andorra alongside club mate James Curry. Banbridge’s participation in that event didn’t end there, with Simon Curry also stepping in to manage the team. Simon was the catalyst behind the club sending Banbridge CC riders to the British NPS Series throughout the year with James Curry and Gareth McKee both consistently securing top 10 places. McKee’s highlight of the series was a 3rd place in Glasgow, the first Irish rider to step upon the podium at an Elite British NPS event.
John Buller also performed well internationally and managed to win a round of the UK Inter Regional Championships in Essex on the Olympic MTB XC course. John is first rider from Northern Ireland to win a round at the Championships.
Matthew Teggart and Mark Downey are the latest in a line of Banbridge CC riders to have made the step to full time cycling, both departing for France with the AC Bisontine squad. Matthew’s season got off to a great start when he won his first victory on French soil in May at the Montigny les Vesoul. This helped earn him selection on the Irish Under 23 team for the Kreiz Breizh UCI Stage race in Brittany alongside Downey. Mark has gone on to compete on the track where he has been part of the Irish Elite squad and was recently racing against International stars Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish at the London 6 day. He was also part of the Irish pursuit team who recently broke the National Record over 4km when competing at a UCI World cup event.
Chris Burns was also part of the National Paracycling team, representing Ireland internationally in Europe in both time trial and road racing events.
Off the bike Banbridge have continued to host numerous events throughout the year attracting the cream of Irish cycling to the area with races forming part of National Leagues both on the road and off. It’s fair to say it’s been a busy year for Banbridge CC but with a long list of accolades on the bike this has now been backed up off the bike with the club being recognised as the best club in Ireland.
Congratulations and thanks must be expressed to all the hard working members of the club who continue to push for continual progress and make Banbridge CC the success it is.