It was another weekend filled with top results for Banbridge cyclists, and with the season now in full swing there were plenty of races on offer too.
Recognised the as one of the opening Ulster Spring Classics, the Tour of Ards was held around the Ards Peninsula on Saturday. Banbridge CC had Gareth McKee and James Curry with Lindsay Watson and Roger Aiken lining up for Plush MTB and Asea Wheelworx. Watson was obviously in good form following his win at the John Haldane Memorial in Newry the previous week and could be seen in a number or early breakaway attempts, along with Aiken.
Little was sticking however with the main bunch closing down all breaks with nothing breaching a 15 sec lead in the first hour of racing. The elastic finally snapped when Aiken instigated a strong break in the outskirts of Portaferry. He was joined by 7 others, but with approximately 25km left race he again forged ahead and it was only Craig McAuley or Caldwell Cycles who could follow. From then on it was a formality for Aiken who comfortably won the sprint for the line in Newtownards, bringing his 3rd win in 4 road race appearances so far this season.
On Sunday Brian Hannon and Adrian Finnegan travelled to Co. Derry for the Danny Boy races promoted by Roe Valley CC. Brian has already been preforming well in the Ulster over 50’s masters league and was sitting in 3rd place overall. Despite numerous attempts by riders to establish a break it was another bunch sprint for the masters and Hannon came agonisingly close to a fine win, but was ultimately satisfied with fine 2nd plane to strengthen his position in the Ulster League.
Cameron McIntyre, racing in the colours of the Nicholas Roche Performance Team/Magnet.ie was also in fine form, assisting his team mate Mark Heaney win the main event for junior and A3 riders while also securing 3rd place himself, much to the delight of the team manager.
Also on Sunday was the opening round of the Ulster mountain bike XC league at Craigavon Lakes. Kicking off the racing and pulling in the first of the results for Banbirdge CC was young Ryan McBride in the under 6’s race. Having only started racing recently he produced an excellent 2nd place from the large field of entries, so the 2016 season is looking good for the young Banbridge rider already.
In the S2 class Simon Curry proved he can still turn in a performance and recorded an excellent 3rd place. Ruth Aiken also had a fantastic 2nd place in the Women’s S3 race. One of Banbridge CC’s newest recruits, Jonny McRoberts, was competing in the S3 class and also climbed onto the podium in 3rd place.
In the Elite / S1 race Banbridge CC’s Gareth McKee was always going to be the man to beat as a current double National Champion. As expected, McKee set a pace the others couldn’t match. Lindsay Watson was the closest of the contenders in 2nd place but later fell off the pace with a mechanical issue, following which nobody else troubled the Banbridge man and it was another convincing win for McKee. Banbridge CC’s Matthew Adair was also making a return after a short break and finished strongly in 3rd place showing he hasn’t lost the class that secured him the National Junior title in the past.
Further afield Matthew Teggart was competing in the GP de Wittenheim for his AC Bisontine team in France. Held over 130+ km and on a flat and exposed course, it’s wasn’t perhaps best suited to Teggarts talents but showing that his form is strong and that he can adapt he made the final cut of 16 riders in the strong crosswinds. He claimed a remarkable 3rd place which will provide a boost to the morale ahead of the Troyes-Dijon next weekend.