Report by Peter McBride
The 2nd round of Banbridge CC’s Mourne Observer Cup road race started in Annaclone under a fabulous blue sky and with little to no wind, making for prefect racing conditions. Once the flag dropped the first group of Paul Anderson and Allan Black were off, then 5 minutes later the next group consisting of Paul McGuckin, Ian Cochrane, Wayne Graham, Chris Burns, and Gareth Rodgers started to turn the pedals over, to start the first of 3 laps. The next group followed 2 mins after that and consisted of Mark Kendell, Mark Stewart, David Lavery, Andy Beattie, Martin Fitzpatrick and Peter McBride who all headed down the road trying to quickly make up the two mins on the very experienced group in front. Then the scratch riders Russell White, Kevin McAlinden, Kevin Wilson, Nathan Sturrock, Joe Penny, David Montgomery (Visitor – Team 3M) and Johnny McRoberts (Visitor - Maryland CC) - they had a minute to make up on the group in front.
It was near the end of the first lap that group three caught group two and one making a large combined bunch, and the experienced riders in the groups immediately started working together. Mark Kendell, Mark Stewart and the evergreen Paul McGuckin were leading going into every hill. Great teamwork was shown by David Lavery & Ian Cochrane who were insuring the pace was kept high. It was now a fight to stay away from the highly talented scratch group. The average speed for the first two laps was 24mph and this would only get quicker when the riders heard Ivor Park and Stephen Curran ringing the bell for the final lap. The two Mark’s urged the team onwards as they started to climb the Annaclone drag for the last time. Chris Burns and Martin Fitzpatrick again bursting forward to make their presence felt near the front of the group and it was Martin who give the shout half way up the hill that scratch had closed the gap. Kevin, Russel, Joe, Johnny and David came roaring past and made a quick 15 second gap on the main group. With a battle cry from Ian Cochrane to rally the troops the chase was on. It wasn’t before long that the scratch group was once again reeled in and a large group formed as it caught and subsumed the breakaway. It now was a case of everyone sitting in and seeing what each other was going to do and who was going to break first in the last closing mile. With no one going Pete McBride went for it with Joe Penny and Mark Kendell - they had made quick 150yrds but this was a tactical error and their tanks had been emptied with 100yrds to go. Nathan had decided that the gap was too much and went for it himself in what was proving to be a white knuckle ride of a finish. Johnny McRoberts was closely behind Nathan and passed him thinking he had it, only to see Monty and Russell on his tail. This is road racing at its best with a very close 1,2,3.Monty 1st Jonney 2nd Russell 3rd. First Banbridge CC riders eligible for points were 1st White, 2nd Sturrock, 3rd Fitzpatrick, 4th Lavery, 5th Mcalinden, 6th McGuckin, 7th Graham, 8th Cochrane, 9th McBride ,10th Stewart.
One great ride of note was that of debutant Wayne Graham in 7th. Many thanks to Steven and Ivor and all the marshals. Thanks to Paul & Toni as usual for the photos and Stephen Goan for the excellent short video which can be found here.