The Club entered a strong team in the Annual Newry 3 Day with Paul-Antione , Dan, Ronan and Johnny. This was the first year for Paul as Junior Category and Ronan riding A3. Dan and Johnny with previous experience. Friday night was a very fast and nervous stage with a fast run out with a tailwind leaving the riders in Scarva in twenty minutes to complete three laps of the Circuit. Sprint Primes came fast and quick with nothing really getting away despite several attacks. All was together heading for the only KOM of the night. Paul made a go for this but was out sprinted with several riders making a late surge. Again all back together for a fast run in. There was several incidents on the night with Dan falling victim and caught up with a damaged wheel. Despite this Dan put in a great effort and made it back. Paul and Johnny held a good position coming into the last turn. It was strung out at the last turn with caution being thrown to the wind getting you in line for the sprint. All finished in the bunch with damage limitations.
Saturday was the Queen Stage. With over 4000ft of climbing and 70 miles it was a tough day in the saddle. With Rathfriland Hill to be ascended three times, Reed Hall and Yellow Water it was going to be tough. Johnny got away straight away with the move coming in the 1st five minutes. Gambling to get away. It nearly all came back together on lap one but somehow it strung out and the original break stayed away. A strong group bridged across to make a group of twelve. A couple of mishaps and navigation errors broke it up but again all together until the 2nd ascent of Rathfriland when a KOM attack left three riders away which would be the deciding move in the day. With two climbs still to come and Newry having the firepower of three men in the chase group this was immediately shut down. Leaving Johnny, Aaron Watson and Cathal the only three to work right to Yellow Water. This left a group of three to bridge. Des Woods joined and Omagh and Armagh Down. Tactical play came in again from Newry. David McIntyre played his ace card as he sat on to 1.5k and jumped everyone. It was then a hill sprint to the Finish. Johnny got 11th on the stage but decisively gained six minutes on the chasing Group which contained the rest of the team. This left Banbridge third on Team on Saturday.
Sunday was going to be damage limitations. Johnny wanted to retain his A3 and 10th position in GC. Both Paul, Dan and Ronan where keen to get the Club a podium in Overall. Paul attacked from the gun, several moves but it was being played very smartly again by Newry with the advantage of numbers. Johnny got involved to try and get away but again nothing was sticking right up to 40k. Dan was playing support to hold Johnny in position moving up through the field all day. Ronan showed some strong riding at the front. Small breaks got away with again a few bridges across and this would be the move of the day. The gaps stayed close as again Newry controlling this and Yellow being stuck on his own. Johnny then again attacked on the Glebe with a small group of eight pulling away on the climb but was soon shut down and brought back. Two climbs of the rolling hills heading for Bessbrook meant a quick finish. Unfortunately Paul had a puncture and had to get a wheel. Leaving him to run home very tough on his own into a headwind which he done. Losing time but gaining experience in his 1st race at this level as a Junior. Ronan found himself well placed for the sprint with both Johnny and Dan finishing in the bunch.
The Team where placed 4th Overall. Johnny retained his A3 classification and held onto his Top 10 in GC. Making this his best result to date at this level. Ronan finished strongly in the bunch and gained experience in his 1st attempt. Both Paul and Dan suffered time loss but finished respectively. The riders would like to thank Neil especially and Aaron, Mark and Brain in the car. Also, all the crew that came to do bottles along the road which was absolutely essential. And finally the supporters along the road.
With experience hopefully this will grow to place a stronger effort again next year. The Club would also like to express our congratulations to all those involved in the event, riders, team crew and support staff.
(Article Contribution: Johnny McRoberts)