The village of Annaclone will once again play host to the opening race on the Irish road racing cycling calendar this weekend with the Banbridge CC hosted Travers Annaclone GP.
Following a hugely successful year for the club in 2016 which included being awarded Cycling Ireland and Ulster Club of the Year along with a multitude of National Championship titles for its riders, Banbridge CC will be keen to set their stall out and show that it’s very much ‘more of the same’ for 2016.
The scene is set for what appears could be one of the most exciting editions of the race in years; Travers Engineering of Rathfriland is once again on board as sponsor, something they’ve been doing for 20+ years.
Local supporters will be delighted to see the line-up which is littered with local potential winners. Johnny McRoberts, Mark Stewart, Mark Kendall and Don Travers will likely lead the charge for Banbridge CC in the A4 support race which see no less than 12 riders signed up from the promoting club.
The main race of the event which will be a handicapped contest catering for A1, A2, A3 and junior riders, also sees an exciting local line up.
Keen to get the A3 & Junior group moving quickly at the head of affairs will be Banbridge CC junior debutant John Buller, returning off-road champion Matthew Adair, Daniel Purdy and Nathan Sturrock.
They will be chased by a daunting A1 group containing Banbridge’s elite – Sean Downey will return in Banbridge CC colours after calling an end to a successful international career.
Joining Sean are Gareth McKee and James Curry who will hope their late 2015 season form which carried them to the World MTB championships will stand by them and will want a strong showing.
Banbridge’s Lindsay Watson of Plush MTB will be hoping his recovery from a badly broken wrist won’t hinder his challenge.
Riders will depart from Annaclone GAA club for the race start at the Hawthorn Inn who’s open fire will likely be a welcome retreat for spectators on a February afternoon.
First off will be the main handicapped race at 12noon with A3 and Juniors riders being chased by the strong A2 and A1 groups and will complete 6 laps of the 8 mile rolling circuit.
The A4 support race will start immediately after and will be a mass start scratch race covering 4 laps. Both races will finish outside the Hawthorn Inn before returning to the Annaclone GAA club for the prize presentations.