CYCLING: Five star success for Bann

The five Banbridge cyclists who won National titles in Tipperary at the weekend. From left to right: James Curry, Jon Runciman (second support race), John Buller, Shannon Buller, Gareth McKee and William Mulligan.

The five Banbridge cyclists who won National titles in Tipperary at the weekend. From left to right: James Curry, Jon Runciman (second support race), John Buller, Shannon Buller, Gareth McKee and William Mulligan.

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Five cyclists from Banbridge Cycling Club were crowned National Champions in Tipperary on Sunday.

Team manager Simon Curry said the feat - which is believed to be a first for one club to have so many champions - was a “great achievement”.

Simon added that the club will now set their sights on getting a team to the World Championships in Andorra this September.

“We’ve had a relatively successful season so far,” Simon commented, “and this caps it all with the Irish Champions coming out of the team.

“Getting a team to the World Championships would be our big goal now. We have one more round of the British National Championships, which would help toward qualification. It would be fantastic to get there, so we will see what we can figure out.”

In a superb day for the club, Banbridge produced five National Champions through John Buller (Under 16), Shannon Buller (Junior Lady), James Curry (Junior Men), William Mulligan (Masters) and the new Elite Irish National XC Champion Gareth McKee.

Gareth said it “felt good” to get the win.

“It was a hard course,” said Gareth. “There were lots of clubs there but I rode my own race and pulled a gap in the first lap and kept it for the next five laps.

“I was confident going into it,” he added. “I knew I’d done enough work to be in the mix.

“It was really good to get so many winners from the club, it’s always been a really good club and the atmosphere at the races is like a big family. Everybody was pleased for everybody.”

William Mulligan, who won the over 50’s masters title, said the club were “elated” with their success.

“It was fantastic to get five wins,” William commented. “Everyone was very chuffed; I wouldn’t say it happens too often to have so many winners from one club.

“The club were elated, it is a fantastic result.

“I was extremely happy to get the win. I was down on Saturday to practice and the course was dry, but there was rain overnight so the rain made it quite difficult, it was a tough race.

“Mountain biking is a fantastic sport. It is great that no matter what age you are, I’m 53, but there are still catagories that allow you to be competitive.

“The club is hosting the last round of the Irish League in Castlewellan Forest Park on August 2, if anyone would like to come along and see what it’s all about. They can visit www.irishxcmps.ie or www.ulsterxc.com for information.”

John Buller opened the winning streak for Banbridge, opening up a lead on the first lap and holding his lead to take the Under 16 title.

Shannon Buller was next, winning the Junior Lady category over a very hard and testing course.

James Curry then took the Junior Men title, before William was victorious in the Masters, and Gareth McKee completed the success for Banbridge winning the National Elite Championships.

Writing on his Facebook page, James Curry added: “2015 Irish National Junior XC champion. So happy to take the win!

“It was an awesome course and big thanks to Bike Park Ireland for hosting the event.

“I can’t thank my sponsor enough, Lakeland Bikes and Peter Jones, for the help and support they give me, I couldn’t do it without them. Also to my dad for doing everything for me.

“Also well done to all the other National Champions in my club, Gareth McKee, John Buller, Shannon Buller, William Mulligan and also to Lindsay Watson who had a crash but still managed to finish with a very sore wrist.

“Next up Castlewellan for Irish NPS rnd 5 then onto Cannock Chase for the last round of the British series in the middle of August.”

Banbridge Cycling Club will host a crit in the town centre on Friday night, as well as the Noel Teggart Memorial Road Race on Sunday.