Report by Neil McAllister
Banbridge Cycling Club invaded Loop village outside Moneymore, Co.Tyrone, for the Ciclisport GP held by East Tyrone Cycling club. First up for the club was Charlie Glover in the U16 event in his first open road race, taking the hard course in his stride and finishing in a great 7th place showing there is a lot to come from this young man in the future. Banbridge also had Matthew Teggart in the A1 race, racing in his team colours of AC Bisontine. Dan Purdy was the sole Banbridge CC representative riding in the A3 race and there were no less than 8 riders in the A4 race – the question was, could the big team make it work?
Mark Stewart, David Lavery, Mark Kendall, Wayne Graham, Johnny McRoberts, Martin Fitzpatrick, Peter McBride and Neil McAlister were out in force and flying the Banbridge CC colours. The 80 strong field of A4 riders started at a frantic pace and immediately riders were being dropped from the main peloton. The Banbridge squad did little to help matters and drove the pace on, with at least 2 riders at the front of affairs at all times.
Mark Stewart and Johnny McRoberts were visible in trying to chase down breaks, while McRoberts also tried a break of his own with Mark Kendall. They were soon chased down however, but once back in the fold of the main bunch Marty Fitzpatrick, David Lavery and Wayne Graham took up the pace so as not to let any new breaks gain a significant advantage.
Peter McBride was next in attempting to break the stronghold of the fast moving bunch and tried a brave solo move on the 3rd lap. He managed to stay clear for most of the lap but ultimately he also would have to surrender to the chasing pack. On the final lap McRoberts gave one last attempt to move clear with 2 others, but with his breakaway companions not fully committed to the cause it was destined to failure before long.
With the fast and technical approach to the finish, a good position in the bunch was of high importance and with so many fighting for their place the nerves in the bunch were frayed. Banbridge CC played the team game and tried to use their numbers for advantage. Both Lavery and Graham led the yellow jersey train, stretching out the bunch and getting rid of few more tired bodies from the bunch in the process. The duo’s sacrifice paid off, with McRoberts, Fitzpatrick and Kendall all well placed for the bunch sprint. McRoberts came out best of the Banbridge riders in an excellent 3rd place with Fitzpatrick tight on his wheel in 4th, taking his first points as an A4 rider. Kendall also placed highly in 7th, giving him sufficient points to be promoted to A3 status.