It was a bumper programme of cycle races on Sunday when Banbridge Cycling Club hosted the Noel Teggart Memorial in the town.
With a total of six races on offer and close to 300 cyclists it was a busy day for the promoting club.
The main event of the day catered for the A1 and A2 category riders and has a long and prestigious previous winners list which includes many of the iconic names from Irish domestic cycling.
The 2015 winner Mark Dowling was missing from action due to an international call up with the Irish team, leaving the path open for a new name to be etched on the Cup.
From the drop of the flag at Havelock Park the pace was high and within the first couple of laps of the 130km race critical selections were already forming.
The front group of a dozen riders were starting to move clear and contained strong men including Adam Armstrong (ASEA Wheelworx), Ryan Sherlock (Leinster), Aaron Swan (Ballymoney CC), Des Woods (Newry Wheelers) and previous home winner Gareth McKee of Banbridge CC.
McKee, buoyed by the home support, gave a brave solo effort with a couple of laps remaining and gained a noticeable advantage but the firepower of the strong chasers behind would prove too much and he was absorbed by a small chase group containing Sherlock, Swan and Woods.
Sherlock and Swan wasted little time and on the final lap took advantage of McKee’s tired legs and made their own bid for glory. On the final ascent of Scarva Road Sherlock’s years and experience won over the youthful Swan and was able to out power the young Ballymoney rider to take an impressive victory in what turned out to be miserable conditions with constant rain throughout the day.
A separate A3 and junior race was promoted and provided some great racing. Similar to the A1/A2 race, the action came thick and fast from the drop of the flag and by the 2nd lap of six, a strong breakaway group had formed and established a commanding lead.
Within that break were home riders John Buller who has been showing tremendous consistency and Tommy Evans who was making his return to the race for the first time in over 10 years.
Also present was East Tyrone fast man Harvey Barnes whose finishing kick would want to be avoided.
Again experience won the day and it was Evans who demonstrated his class and timed his final attack to perfection with young Buller keeping watch of Barnes and the remainder of the breakaway.
The home crowd were delighted at the sight of Evans, a famous son of Banbridge CC returning to his local roads, who had gained enough time to savour the win in front of his supporters.
Buller led the sprint out for 2nd place and looked to have the legs to carry him but the track speed of Barnes proved too quick at the end of 70 miles racing and he would have to settle for 3rd place – yet another podium to add to his collection.
The A4 race had the largest representation of local riders with large teams from local clubs including Dromara CC, West Down Wheelers, VC Iveagh and host club Banbridge CC.
Brian Hannon of Banbridge CC attempted a solo move and looked strong throughout but the early move was closed down with few others wanting to join him out front with significant mileage still to go. On the penultimate lap it was another local man, Tim Beattie of TVR, who made his move. He quickly opened up an advantage of 30 seconds and with little response behind his advantage only grew. He did enough to cross the line and claim a comfortable win and was clearly delighted to take his first open race win in front of a local crowd.
The three youth races once again proved popular and were well supported from riders and families travelling across the country to compete. The under 12 race produced the first winner of the day with Shea O’Kane of Phoenix CC winning the sprint ahead of Adam Rafferty, Island Wheelers. Maria McAllister was close behind and collected the first girls prize.
In the under 14 race Donegal lad Odhran Doogan of Errigal CC followed up his previous years victories in the under 12 class with another win. Ellie Kelso of East Tyrone was the first under 14 girl.
The under 16 racing always produces exciting racing and this year was no exception. Held over 34 miles, the strong lads prevailed and used the Scarva Road climb to their advantage. It was once again the Doogan’s of Donegal who would cross the line first with Patrick Doogan claiming the win. Craig McCarthy of XMTB and Liam Hanley of Lucan RC rounded out the podium Edie Haley of Australian club Bendigo District CC won the prize for 1st Girl.Congratulations to the many dedicated race support volunteers who turned out and stood in the in the constant rain and drove the numerous support vehicles.
It was a great event for Banbridge CC and the town, and the club volunteers and family of the late Noel Teggart put in some great team work to make it happen.