Banbridge CC’s road racing contingent were once again proving to be on form with a string of fine results over the weekend in various races. As the busy racing period in May approaches many of the country’s top racing cyclists are fine tuning their form ahead of the Amber Green Tour of Ulster and An Post Ras stage races, however despite most of Banbridge‘s riders having their sights fixed elsewhere on the calendar they’re still holding great form and able to compete at the highest domestic level.
Saturday seen the 3rd edition of the Donegal Bay Kermesse around the village of Mountcharles. With a short but vicious circuit to contend with the riders would be in for a tough day – and so it would be with what was left of the bunch split into smaller packs and individual riders littered over the steep Donegal hills. Banbridge CC’s in-form Cameron McIntyre made the break of the day, and as many of his breakaway companions would fall off the pace he would remain with 3 others to fight it out for the victory atop the main climb of the 6.2km circuit which they had completed 13 times. With all 3 of his breakaway companions all well experienced in Kermesse style racing having spent time in Belgium young Cameron would be up against it. The hard circuit took its toll and Cameron was distanced in the closing miles but was strong enough to hold on for a fine 4th place against excellent competition, a result he will no doubt be pleased with continuing his run of great results following last week’s overall victory in the Lakeland 2-Day.
Further south in Bohermeen, Co Meath, the Waller Cup was hosted on Sunday. Mark Downey was Banbridge CC’s main representative in the men’s ‘A’ race and once again he would infiltrate the main break of the day, this time alongside former Track World Champion Martin Irvine of the British Madison Genises Team. After a gruelling 60 miles out front with a blistering average of 27 mph it was only the power of the former World Champ Irvine that could hold off the chase of the main bunch to finish alone. Mark will take the benefit of a hard days racing in his legs however ahead of this weekend’s Amber Green Energy Tour of Ulster where he will compete as part of the Irish Development Team.
Also in Bohermeen was the 3rd round of the National Women’s League. Shenna McKiverigan was showing that her road legs are coming round after a full season on the track. In the mix of the action all day with the junior rider showing her senior competitors that she had no intention of making the journey to simply make up the numbers, Shenna was active in several breakaway attempts. The race would eventually come down to a bunch sprint however and it was the power of Paracycling pilot Eve McCrystal, a World Championship silver medalist, that would claim the win ahead of Donegal sensation Ciara Doogan and Sheena completing the podium.
Harps CC would also promote a full days racing on Sunday in Cookstown that would include an over 50’s event. Again, despite some very aggressive riding in an attempt to break things up it would be a bunch sprint that would decide honours on the day. Banbridge CC’s Brian Hannon narrowly missed out on another victory, as he had experienced in Omagh earlier in the season, but will be delighted with an excellent 2nd place which leaves him in the hunt for the series title which will be hard fought. Paul McGuckin also had an excellent race, finishing in the top 10.
Competing this year for Team ASEA Roger Aiken will no doubt be licking his lips at the thought of a tough Tour of Ulster and more significantly for him the An Post Ras. Roger makes no secret of his love for the Ras and with a strong team around him will want to once again stand on the top step of the podium. In preparation the Team travelled to the UK for the International CiCLE classic, often seen as Britain’s answer to the Paris Roubaix with its unpaved gravel sections coming after 100km of racing. With his skills in Cyclo-Cross as a triple National Champion no doubt being a benefit on the off-road sections Roger had a super race to finish in a diminished front group of less than 30 riders who were led home by NFTO professional and Australian Criterium Champion Steel Von Hoffe.