James Curry achieved his biggest victory on the road at the weekend at the gruelling Ras Dhun na nGall.
The Banbridge CC rider was competing in the four stage event alongside fellow Banbridge lad Cameron McIntyre in the Sierra Navada team.
Also riding were Banbridge CC’s Matthew Adair and Mark Kendal, who was taking part in his first stage race.
The event, known throughout Irish cycling for its savagely hilly parcours, is one for those who are on top of their form with no place to hide on the steep gradients.
All Banbridge riders managed to avoid much mishap in a first stage marred by crashes and finished well up the standings ahead of the short time trial scheduled for early on Saturday morning.
This is where young Curry showed his intent by placing second, only one second off the winner’s time.
The Saturday afternoon stage took the riders over more gruelling roads and it was here that Curry made his move.
He broke clear as part of a four man break, picking up some valuable time bonuses along the way.
With his head down and driving from the front, by the time they reached the finish line Curry managed to pull out an advantage of almost two minutes over the main bunch which contained the leader’s yellow jersey.
Curry came incredibly close to winning stage in the four man sprint, but was narrowly beaten by Kevin McKinney of Velo Café Magasin.
His focus was on the overall lead however which he had now secured by 16 seconds over breakaway companion and stage winner McKinney.
The final stage on Sunday was known for one thing alone. All previous climbs paled into insignificance in comparison to the final ascent to the race finish atop Glengesh Pass.
A break had moved clear during the stage and reached the foot of the final climb of Glengesh with over a minute’s advantage on the main bunch containing Curry, however when those who felt they could challenge the yellow jersey launched their attacks that advantage quickly dwindled.
No-one could live with the Banbridge lad and he was able to celebrate as he crossed the line as victor of the stage and overall winner of the 2016 edition of the Ras Dhun na nGall.
That will earn Curry an upgrade to the elite A1 category in only his first year of senior riding. The future looks bright.
Cameron McIntyre also rode impressively all weekend and finished in fifth place as first Junior rider.
Mark Kendal’s debut into stage racing was an impressive one, finishing in 33rd place out of the 150 starters. Matthew Adair was behind in 42nd.