Ahead of the Easter weekend stage racing Banbridge CC sent a strong team to the Wallace Caldwell in Ballymena. As a round of the Irish National League the level of competition would be high as some of the best domestic riders in the country congregated to complete the 75 mile contest. Representing Banbridge CC were Gareth McKee, James Curry, John Buller and Matthew Adair. Lindsay Watson who would once again be guesting on the Banbridge CC team for the Tout of the North was also present in his Plush MTB colours.
The team wasted little time and within the first 20 miles McKee and Watson had infiltrated a promising break of 6 riders and quickly opened up a significant advantage over the chasing peloton. The group worked well together and at its peak held a two and a half minute lead before the scramble for the main climbs of the day; the Cam Forest and Springwell. With the Cam acting as an hors d’oeuvres to the Springwell the breakaway riders stayed together for the first climb but the power of McKee and Watson quickly led to the departure of all their companions with the exception of ex-international junior rider Ryan Reilly of Foyle CC. Cresting the climb the new leading trio still maintained a minute and a half advantage but the chase was well and truly on behind. Despite a mammoth effort by the breakaway riders the race came back together with a little over 10 miles to go. The team will be satisfied with strong display and some hard racing ahead of a busy Easter period when stage racing is back on the menu.
Photos courtesy of Bronagh Kirk