Report by Peter McBride
Martin Fitzpatrick and Peter McBride travelled to the village of Castlecaufield for the Hugo Loughran Grand Prix last Friday evening. After taking in a practice lap of the circuit they knew it was going to be a very tight and fast race with little or no opportunity for overtaking. The race rolled out of the village with the group of 80 riders already jousting for positions, but once they passed the start line the speed dramatically upped in tempo.
The race itself was a cagey affair with the average speed for each lap 24.5 mph; the racers had 5 laps to do with each lap being 6.5 miles long. Fitzpatrick and McBride stayed in the middle of the bunch for the first two laps knowing from previous races that too much work earlier on was leaving them short on fire power for the finish.
On lap three a breakaway was trying to establish but was closed down quickly. The pace increased again for the penultimate lap and saw some riders drift off the back, but Fitzpatrick and McBride held their position well near the front of the peloton. The electricity could be felt in the air as the final lap loomed ahead. This is when Fitzpatrick made his move, and like a chess master he did it one piece at a time. He moved from around 20th to tenth reeling in the ten riders with ease. McBride was trying to follow but missed his window of opportunity, knowing his race was over it put him in prime viewing position for what only can be described as a text book winning manoeuvre. Fitzpatrick knew the finish at the top of a hill suited him and once he had got into the top ten he glided past the first six riders with ease. He was now in fourth position and felt strong but just at the moment the 3rd placed rider came across him hitting his front wheel and nearly taking him off. Luckily he used all his bike skills to stay upright and clicked into sprint mode, never looking back. He blasted past the front two riders to claim first place. It was a fantastic win for Fitzpatrick, leaving him just 2 points away from being a category 3 rider in only his second year of road racing.