Banbridge CC returned to the fast and popular Gilford / Scarva circuit for the final round of the Mourne Observer Cup on Wednesday evening.
With heavy showers rolling about all day it was going to be hard to stay dry, but thankfully the 21 riders who signed on just about managed to.
There would be no hiding place for the rider in the wind towards Gilford. It was also going to be good to see if anyone was suffering from Sunday’s massive turn out of Banbridge CC riders in the Noel Teggart Memorial Open Road Race, where a good few of the lads made their open road racing debut.
Stevie Curran sorted the groups out on handicap and Ivor Park, Hazel Buller and Anne Baird were on time keeping duties - they would be kept busy over the 5 laps of the circuit.
Paul Anderson, Leslie Creighton and Gerard set off in the first group with the wind on their backs down towards Scarva. Next up was Allan Black, Steve Goan and race debut David Graham - he picked a fast night to cut his teeth into racing. It was good to see Steve back out on local roads again too.
With all five groups away it was going to be a hard night to stay away from the scratch. With recently crowned Irish champions Gareth McKee and James Curry driving it on it wasn’t too long before they had caught the group in front.
They caught them on the second lap, and any wonder with times of under 12 minutes a lap, it was going to be hard for anyone to stay with them.
On the 3rd lap almost everyone was together and the pace went up again. The group was blown apart, bodies everywhere on the Gilford road, but there was still Allan Black and David Graham who hadn’t been pulled back in.
It came down to the last lap when they caught David who had rode brilliantly to stay away so long. With just Allan Black to reel in and heading into the home straight he went all out for the line, but unlucky for him was caught just before the finishing line by the fast pace of Gareth and Nathan with Nathan Sturrock taking the hard earned win.
Gareth the gentleman that he is sat up to let Allan Black take a fantastic and deserved 2nd place - his best result of the year.
Leading the next group in was Ian Cochran who took a great 4th place. Ian is getting back into great form. TT king Kevin Wilson was next in 5th place.
With everyone home safe and sound it was a great night’s race.
None of this would be possible of course if it wasn’t for Alan Towell and his team of marshals and volunteers.
Noel Teggart Memorial
Mark Dowling (DID Dunboyne) added another Irish Classic to his growing list when he won the Noel Teggart Memorial in Banbridge on Sunday 26 July 2015.
He crossed the finish line, 1’ 36” ahead of runner up Lindsay Watson (Plush MTB) who was also on his own. Eoin Morton (UCD) was third just ahead of Marcus Christie (Grant Bissell) with local man Roger Aiken (Team Asea) fifth.
Downling had attacked on the last of the 7 laps race (82 miles) and the leading group disintegrated as he surged ahead for an impressive win.
A quality field rode an aggressive race from the start in unseasonal conditions.
Lindsay Watson’s placing confirms his talent having crossed to road racing from mountain biking in recent years.
Newry man Gareth McCullough (Newry Wheelers) did a good ride to finish 9th while his team mate Kevin Lynch took the A2 award. Good to see Adam Armstrong (Northern-Dave Kane) back in action and finishing strongly in the depleted bunch.
John Higgins (Ballaghaderreen CC) won the A3 race with another solo effort. Bangor junior Joash Lawrence (North Down CC) showed the benefit of his ride in the Junior Tour, with a super race to finish second on his own while Glen Dunwoody (Orchard Wheelers-Shelbourne Motors) took the bunch gallop for third.
Loran Healy (unattached) won the A4 race with ‘blast from the past’ Danny McGlade (Apollo CC) leading in the bunch for second.
Orlagh Montague (Dublin Wheelers) finished well in the A4 race to win the first lady prize.
Anthony Bradley (Sperrin Wheelers) took his second win of the weekend in the Under 16 race, having won in Donegal on Saturday. Ciaran Cahoon (Clann Eireann) won the U14 race and Katie Armstrong (North Down) was first U14 girl. Odhran Doogan (Errigal) was first U12 and Ellie Kelso (East Tyrone CC) best girl.
It was a very busy weekend for Aaron Wallace and the Banbridge Club who had promoted the Agnew SEAT race on Friday night also.