Opening the Irish road racing season, the Banbridge CC promoted Travers Engineering Annaclone GP will take place this Saturday, 18th February.
Two races will be hosted, both of which will start and finish outside the Hawthorne Inn. The main attraction of the day will be the ‘A’ race catering for A1, A2 & A3 category riders which starts at 12 noon and will cover 76km. This will be a handicapped affair with the A3 riders receiving a competitive handicap over their A2 and A1 counterparts.
The ‘B’ race will cater for A4 men and A3 women in a massed start event, starting just after the ‘A’ race and will cover 51km. Both races are expected to have a full field of 80 riders, with the ‘B’ race finishing at approximately 1:30pm and the ‘A’ race finishing shortly after at 14:00.
The route will take the riders from the Ardbrin/Tanvally Rd cross roads to Ritchies Bridge where they take a sharp left onto the B10/Monteith Rd. Once over the long drag at May’s Corner they will descend into the Diamond junction where another sharp left will take them to Katesbridge via the Greenhill Rd. At Katesbridge they will enter the final leg of the circuit where they re-join the Ardbrin Rd for the final climb up to the Hawthorn Inn. Delays for local traffic are to be expected on the circuit between 11:30am & 14:30pm
The event is once again supported and sponsored by Travers Engineering of Rathfriland. Travers Engineering have been a long standing sponsor of the race and have maintained close ties with Banbridge CC for many years.
The winner of the ‘A’ race will have the honour of being the first name etched onto the Eddie Sands Memorial Cup. The memorial cup has been kindly donated by the Sands family following the sad passing of Eddie in 2016. Eddie was one of the co-founders of Banbridge CC in 1944 and remained a dedicated and loyal member of the club until his passing.
Banbridge CC’s double Irish MTB champion Gareth McKee of Moneyslane will be one to watch and will be keen to turn in a performance when competing so close to home. Also returning to racing after a quiet year following his retirement from professional racing is former An Post rider Sean Downey. Cameron McIntyre who begins his under 23 career and will want to show off his new AC Bisontine jersey in style having signed for the French Division 2 team over the winter months.
Competition is very stiff however and those looking at the start list will find it hard to look past the strong Aqua Blue team from Cork. Their main hope will likely lie with ex-professional and former Italian junior and U23 international Matteo Cigala. Cigala will be backed by one of the strongest teams in the county which also includes 2016 Olympian Bryan Keane. Another notable name on the start list is that of last years winner and reigning National Cyclo-X Champion Roger Aiken. Aiken has claimed victory on this circuit on numerous occasions and will know the bumps and turns better than most.
The Omagh duo of 2016 Tour of Ulster stage winner Angus Fyffe and Shay Elliott Memorial winner Marc Potts will find it hard to be satisfied with anything other than another victory while 2016 Ras Mumhan winner Chris McGlinchey will be looking to replicate his 2015 A4 win at this event which saw him break onto the road racing scene.