Last Wednesday, Marty Fitzpatrick won his second race in a row as Banbridge CC return to the popular Annaclone Circuit for the Maxwell Cup.
In total 33 riders signed on for three laps of the tough eight mile circuit. Ivor Park was back on duty splitting riders into the handicap groups, so everyone had a fair chance of a good result at the race. Everyone was split across five groups with 2-3 minute intervals between each.
The first lap of the race is always the hardest and this race was no different.
Pressure was on from the start and with Chris Burns at it again, driving on. Paul McGuckin was trying to control the riders so their group could all stay together.
It wasn’t long before the second group Mark Buller, Johnny Lyons and John Fegan (in his first road race) had taken the lead.
It was the end of the second lap before the third group caught the leaders and the three lads from that group jumped on the back, making a significantly dangerous group.
As the riders got the bell on the last lap and things started to get nervous, each rider knew that if they could get to the top of May’s corner together they had a good chance of staying away.
The group was still all working well together as they turned left at Katesbridge into a strong head wind for the final miles to the finish.
There was a couple of individual attempts to jump clear and get away but the wind was too strong for anyone to overpower the large chasing group on their own, especially within sight of the finish.
At one stage everyone slowed right down, as the famous cat and mouse tactics came into play and no-one wanted to go to the front.
Of course this was really playing into scratch hands as they closed the gap to the front.
Charlie Glover and Pete McBride took to the front lifting the pace sharply. Approaching the last two corners Brian Curran shouted “they have caught us!”. Neil McAllister wasn’t waiting any longer, but as he was sprinting for the line his legs couldn’t turn any faster, he knew there was a que behind him waiting to pounce and out popped Marty Fitzpatrick to take the win from McAllister in second.
Paul McGukin was third Chris Burns fourth and a brilliant ride from young Mark Buller to take fifth.
That’s Marty’s second win in two races. He will be closely watched next time out - not least by the handicappers!
With the large bunch sprint it was hard to make out who finished in which position so big thanks to Ivor Park and Johnathan Buller for sorting through the photographic evidence.