As the first race of the season, the Banbridge CC promoted Travers Engineering Annaclone GP, always presents the unknown. After the long dark training miles of the winter riders line up against one another to find out how their preparations will measure up against their competitors. It’s also an opportunity to catch up with old friends , whether they be there as riders, team support, volunteers, or simply to watch the racing. So, while there may be nerves and even a realisation check for some, it’s always an event that is welcomed.
There were no such nerves for Under 23 newcomer Dean Harvey of Spellman Dublin Port. Following a breakthrough off season where he excelled in the cold and dirt of cyclo-cross, he left nothing to chance, flying solo with on the long drag approaching Mays Corner and holding the chasing bunch at bay to win comfortably in front of the crowd gathered at the Hawthorn Inn.
Having started in the scratch group of A1 riders, who had 4 minutes of handicap to close over the 50 mile race, there was little time to waste. The A2 group who started in no man’s land, with 2 mins handicap behind the A3’s, and a further 2 mins to hold off the A1’s, were the most efficient group initially. They closed down the A3’s, while also pulling out their advantage on the A1’s by an extra 30 seconds at the end of the first lap of six.
The A2’s soon merged with the form A3 group and dispite the hot pace, local riders Aaron Parks (Banbridge CC) and Gareth Rodgers (VC Iveagh), were able to move clear into the lead and managed to pull out an advantage of almost 1 minute. Rodgers eventually fell off the pace, leaving Parks alone out front. Behind him a small group of A1 riders, including most of the favourites, had managed to bridge to the combined A2/A3 bunch and that initiated a number of counter attacks. Parks advantage started to fall under the pressure behind and the front groups merged on the final lap for the last showdown.
It was Dean Harvey who went long, but had the lags to make it work. He crossed the line ahead of Darnell Moore, Team Caldwell Cycles, who left his chase a little late but managed to stay clear of the bunch which was led in by Caldwell teammate Odhran Doogan.
Luke Smith (Moynalty CC) placed 4th, with Gareth O’Neill (Caldwell Cycles) 5th , Paul Antoine Hagan (Banbridge CC) 6th, Adam Ward (Team Smartdry Girona) 7th, and Nathan Mullan (Dromara CC) rounding out the top 8.
In the A4 event, a few ambitious moves were made on the opening lap, however these were closed down by a nervous bunch and it remained together for the most part. Donegal man, Mark Hunter of Errigal CC, led them in for victory over Noel Doyle of TVR and Mark Currie, Harps CC. They were followed by Rob Adams (Unattached) in 4th, John Ervine (Banbridge CC) in 5th and Erin Grace Creighton (McConvey Cycles) in 6th place and first woman.