2021 Race League Reports

BICRL Event 04 – Road Race – Tandragee

After a one week break, we were back with a bang and another road race – this time on the Tandragee 100 Circuit. VCI had a great turnout of 12 riders taking part, which certainly helped to take the pressure off and allow for some teamwork in the first four groups. A fantastic evening weather-wise, with temperatures in the high teens and little to no wind ensured a fast race.

Johnny Burns and William Strain set off in Group 2, neither having raced in a number of years. Alongside visitor Mark Saunderson, they formed a 3-man breakaway at the end of the first lap. Some fantastic teamwork amongst the 3 riders ensured that they swept up Group 1 and also managed to avoid being caught by the scratch group making their way through the field. On the approach to the finish, Johnny managed to open a gap on the last climb to take first place, with William close behind. As they were crossing the line, the chasing group led by Aaron Parks was just coming over the brow of the hill to take third place.

Peter Elliott and Stephen Hanna both finished inside the top 10, having set off in Groups 3 and 4.

Overall, VCI took 2nd place in the team event, with Banbridge having sufficient strength in depth to secure 1st place.

BICRL Event 03 – Road Race – Kinallen

Event 03 was the second road race of the series, on the testing Kinallen circuit. VCI welcomed a few new participants to the ranks of the race crew – one of whom was Geoff Harrison, who joined us last year. A regular on our Midweek Social Ride and our Sunday Bun Run, this was Geoff’s first opportunity to ‘pedal in anger’. We asked Geoff for a few words to sum up his first race.

“Kinallen was a tough course for my first race, with a few tough hills to contend with. The course was 5 laps, totalling 30miles. I went out in the front group, with Davy and Warren, both of whom gave me plenty of encouragement. It was tough, but I really enjoyed the experience and would encourage everyone to give it a go.”

With handicaps reduced by a few minutes from the Annaclone Road Race, there was a gap of 15mins from the first group to the scratch group. Aaron Parks of Banbridge CC was first over the line, having rode ride through the field of riders, to win from scratch. Our own James Dane was hot on his heels, to take 2nd place overall on his home circuit, with Neil Seffen and John Davison also at the head of the race.

Geoff on his debut finished comfortably with Warren and other riders from Group 1, while Davy was a few places ahead.

BICRL Event 02 – 17 Mile Individual Time Trial

Event 02 in the series switched the focus from road racing to time trialling, with a gruelling 17 mile course taking in Mays Corner and Cattle Hill. There was much discussion in the days leading up to the event, regarding the benefits of using a road bike or a dedicated TT bike on such a hilly course. In the end, we had an almost 50/50 split, with 3 riders representing the club on TT bikes and 5 on road bikes.

Conditions on the evening couldn’t have been much better, with dry roads and temperatures in the high teens. A south-westerly wind hampered testers on the first section of the course (out the Rathfriland Road, through Annaclone and over Mays Corner) before starting to reap the benefits on the approach to Katesbridge. Any wind was long forgotten about on the climbs of Cattlehill and drag after drag along the Waringsford Road, before turning back into the wind on the Drumneath Road for a fast finish.

Fastest of the VCI men on the night was James Dane, who recorded a fantastic time of 42mins and 49 seconds, which was also the third fastest time overall.

Neil Seffen set the second fastest time for VCI on the night, with a time of 44:11, earning him 7th place overall.

Third fastest for VCI was William Strain, with a time of 46:16 on a road bike – third fastest road bike overall (2nd fastest interclub road bike).

Yet again, all riders dug in and gave 100% for the club, producing some fantastic times.

Thanks to Richie and Tim for marshalling and thanks to Paul Hannigan for photos.

BICRL Event 01 – Road Race – Annaclone

Kicking the season off was a road race on the popular Annaclone circuit.  Starting at the Hawthorn Inn, competitors followed the Glebe Road to ‘Ritchies Corner’ with a sharp left bringing them into Annaclone village.  Through Annaclone, the riders then take on the infamous ‘Mays Corner’ – a testing drag, before a fast descent to ‘The Diamond’.  A fast left turn brought the race onto the rolling Katesbridge Road, with another tight left turn just before entering Katesbridge pointing the competitors back to the Hawthorn Inn.

A warm, muggy evening brought over 50 entrants to the start line, split into 5 racing groups.  The first group was released at 19:00, with Group 2 handicapped by 8 minutes.  Group 3 (mostly A4 racers) was a further 6 minutes behind Group 2 and Group 4 (mostly A3/A2 racers) a further 4 minutes back.  Finally, a small scratch group (mostly A1 riders) was released 1 minute after Group 4. 

Group 1 was immediately split into two seperate groups on the road and Group 2 was split by the second lap.  However, Group 3 worked extremely well right from the word go, cutting their handicap in half by the second lap.  Group 4 maintained the gap over the first 2 laps, before smashing it on the third lap, increasing the gap to the scratch group behind.  By the start of the last lap, Groups 3 and 4 had come together to form a large peloton moving at speeds exceeding the open race on the same circuit.

Tension was rising at the finish lap, as supporters waited to see if the peloton would sweep up the remainder of the Group 1 and 2 riders.  The first glimpse of the group was a black jersey, as Stephen Hanna stormed to a powerful sprint finish to take 1st place, thanks to a lead-out from Neil Seffen.  Several other VCI riders managed to jump onto the lead-out to take 5th, 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th place.  Gordy and Ivan both dug deep to finish, helping to secure first place overall for VCI in Event 01.

Well done to all who represented the club, either racing or marshalling and of course a special well done to Stevie for the win!