In the Valley they go

What a weekend we had in Northern Ireland, the cobwebs certainly were blown away for a while. Yesterday we visited the Bann Valley Classic near Portglenone in the sleepy village of Clady. Due to many races on the calendar the entries a bit down but still quality fields in the 3 races on the menu. Very windy again and after the Wallace Caldwell the day before some took the opportunity to get some more racing miles in to prepare themselves for the big Easter weekend coming up in Ulster (The International Tour of the North) The parish hall in Clady welcomed us with hot drinks and snacks at the sign on which had ample parking to get rid of the cars and very close to the start and finish area as a bonus. The promoting club Bann Valley RC moved the finish line up hundred yards to make it safer at the top of a drag on the main village road and it made a difference for all concerned. As a photographer, you could see the race coming from a distance and prepare properly. Due to doing a video here below my hands were full and I had the assistance of Shea Gribbon from the new cycling apparel brand for the winning photos and very grateful for his help. Thank you Bann Valley RC for the welcome we had and chapeau for such great race in difficult conditions on the day, also thanks to your volunteers, the PSNI, the Medical Emergency Ambulance team and the commissaires on duty and off course the sponsor of the event

The A1-A2 race was handicapped but after one lap already rectified by the A1 riders and soon 5 men took the bull by the horns so to speak. Powerhouse Sport had 2 riders in the break with Xeno Young fit again after some injuries and maestro Lindsay Watson, joined by NDCC’s Stuart Henry , visitor Paul Kennedy (Newcastle West) a strong rider who had back to back races in the North and the Ballymena RC top rider Richard Maybin. After them some chasers who eventually reeled in by the chasing bunch but never close enough to get the break back…Lindsay took the win uphill in his usual fashion beating Paul with a few yards to spare.

Stuart Henry had to let go in the end but still finished in a respectable 6th place
Top 10 A1-A2 Race
1 – Lindsay Watson – powerhouse sport
2 – Paul Kennedy – Newcastle West (Munster)
3 – Richard Maybin – Ballymena RC
4 – Xeno Young – powerhouse sport
5 – Thomas Creighton – Mc Convey Cycles
6 – Stuart Henry – North Down CC
7 – Jack Ferguson – Mc Convey Cycles
8 – Michael Mc Donald – Mc Convey Cycles
9 – Alastair Robinson – Bann Wheelers 
10 – Craig Gibson – Carn Wheelers

Before that we had the A3 race who was marked with lots of attacks but 3 riders who have appeared up front most of the time got away from the bunch, some recaptured except Phoenix CC’s Stuart mc Caughey who had to let junior Nathan Keown NDCC go and the young Bangor man took his second solo win of the season, Nathan could grab more headlines in the future with such performance, and also high on my list for a possible selection at the Belgian Project bursary and graduate selection pool. I will have my work cut out to select as so many good juniors entered this year but such win will do him no harm

Result A3’s & Juniors (Top 10)
1 – Nathan Keown – North Down
2 – Stuart Mc Caughey – Phoenix CC
3 – Fergus Callaghan – Four Masters
4 – John Dickey – BVRC
5 – Mark Mc Girr – Lakeland 
6 – Sean Mullin – CVCC
7 – Kyle Fisher – Lakeland 
8 – Dermot O Kane – BVRC
9 – Connor Bradley – Spires CC
10 – Ronan Campbell – Lakeland

Finish A3 & Juniors..Photo Shea Gribbon (Pedal Pushers)
The A4 race has his usual bunch finish, strongest in the race was in my opinion Laura Wylie (Mc Convey Cycles) but she doesn’t want to get involved in the sprint to prevent crashes or injuries (here seen above in second place behind Matthew Sinton who came second and moves up to the A3 cat)
Top 10
1 – Phillip Morrison – Ballymena RC
2 – Matthew Sinton – Portadown 
3 – Johnny Kane – Foyle CC
4 – Andrew Green – North Down
5 – Luke Higgins – Ballycastle 
6 – Mark Wright – Ballymena RC
7- Gareth Kirkwood Madigan
8- Bill Johnston Madigan
9- Ollie Collins Termoneeny CC
10- Andrew Graham VCM
A 4 finish ..Photo Shea Gribbon (Pedal Pushers)
Highly recommended by the Belgian Project