Resident Banbridge CC blogger Neil McAllister reports from a fine performance at the Maxwell Cup in Annaclone.
Wednesday 17th June saw Banbridge Cycling Club return to the popular Annaclone Circuit for the Maxwell cup. It was a sunny evening but with strong winds. In total 33 riders signed on for 3 laps of the tough 8 mile circuit. Ivor Park was back on duty tonight splitting riders into the handicap groups, so everyone had a fair chance of a good result at the race. Everyone was split across 5 groups with 2-3 minute intervals between each.
The first lap of the race is always the hardest. Trying to get up to speed and controlling breathing so you have some sort of chance staying with your group. Tonight was no different; pressure on from the start and with Chris Burns at it again driving us all on and Paul trying to control the group so we could all stay together. It wasn’t long before the second group Mark Buller, Johnny Lyons and John Fegan (in his first road race) had taken the lead. These three guys were obviously working well together.
It was the end of the second lap before the third group caught the leaders and the three lads from that group njumped on to the back, making a significantly dangerous group, together they could stay away from the scratch. We got the bell on the last lap and things started to get nervous, each rider knowing that if you could get to the top of May’s corner together we had a good chance of staying away. Now the pace was really up – down to the Diamond and left for Katesbridge. The group was still all working well together as we turned left at Katesbridge into a strong head wind for the final miles to the finish.
There was a couple of individual attempts to jump clear and get away but the wind was too strong for anyone to overpower the large chasing group on their own, especially within sight of the finish. At one stage everyone slowed right down, as the famous cat and mouse tactics came into play and no-one wanting to go to the front – of course this was really playing into the scratches hands as the closed the gap to the front. Charlie Glover and Pete McBride took to the front lifting the pace sharply; we were coming into the last two corners when all of a sudden Brian Curran shouted “they have caught us”. Well, I wasn’t waiting any longer; I had to try for the sprint if the scratch was on us. Sprinting for the line my legs couldn’t turn any faster, I knew there was a que behind me waiting to pounce and out popped Marty Fitzpatrick from my back wheel to take the win, myself 2nd , Paul McGukin 3rd , Chris Burns 4th and a brilliant ride from young Mark Buller to take 5th. That’s Marty’s second win in 2 races, the man is on fire these days. He will be closely watched next time out – not least by the handicappers!
With the large bunch sprint it was very hard to make out who finished in which position so big thanks to Ivor Park and Johnathan Buller for sorting through the photographic evidence to see who finished where. Top man Alan Towell and the team keeping the roads clear and safe for the riders who all got round safe and sound. I wonder if I will get extra points for being 1st and 2nd.? Well, at least my socks were 1st, – the only problem being that Marty’s feet was in them! The poor man, I had to lend him a pair of socks to race in. The next time he can race in his bare feet with the scratch.