Bankhead makes solid start to defence of title

Ballymena Road Club cyclist Ryan Bankhead.
Ballymena Road Club cyclist Ryan Bankhead.

Ryan Bankhead got his defence of Ballymena Road Club’s Tommy Smyth cup “scratch race series” off to a perfect start when he won last Wednesday evening’s round one event at Broughshane.

Bankhead also won the opening round last season and then went on to win the series.

Weather conditions were the best of the year so far and this made for fast attacking riding.

Ryan gives his account of how the race unfolded for him: “The race started with Gerry McNally from Bann Valley attacking from the gun, a few attempts were made to bring him back but to no avail.

I had decided to leave my attack to the slight drag up past Hazelbank School but the speed was high there and I didn’t feel the need to attack.

Once we crested this drag the pace then dropped and I attacked, putting in a hard 15seconds and then looked back, I’d got the gap with just three riders coming across to me.

I sat up and as soon as the three got over I knew this would be the race winning move. The break now consisted of Aaron Swan, Clifford Grant, Connor Young, Gerry McNally and myself. I knew that if we rode hard to get the gap then we only had to hold it over the second lap.

The break started to split up on the second lap, due to some hard turns by both Aaron and myself.

With a mile or so to go Gerry started to wind it up, showing how strong a Time Trial rider he is.

I was sitting on his wheel, waiting for the kick from Aaron. Gerry was now starting to run out of legs and, as we could see the finish, it was now down to us three, I kicked for the finish knowing I’d only Aaron to worry about, I could see him just to my right as we raced for the line, I got the win by a bike length from Aaron with Gerry third and Connor holding on for fourth. We four had a healthy time gap on the bunch, but not quite sure by how much. It was a fast race with my average reading 25.7mph. It was a good night’s racing with the perfect result for my league defence.”

What about the Tour of the North?

“My TON went about as well as I could ever have wished for. Consistent showings across all the 4 stages left me in 49th overall at 8min 54sec down - a result I’d have been very pleased with before the race start.

“I’d like to congratulate Joan McCullough and her team for another fantastic event, great course which led to great racing,” added Ryan.

Results scratch league round one at Broughshane: (1) Ryan Bankhead (2) Aaron Swan (NRPT) (3) Gerard McNally Bann Valley RC) (4) Connor Young (5) J Dickey (BVRC) (6) Shea McTaggart (BVRC) (7) Alan Blair (8) Gary Reid (9) Stephen Little (10) Fergus Byrne (BVRC) (11) N Bradley (BVRC) (12) Richard Reid (13) Daryl Sempey (14) Martin Ruddy (15) C Madden (BVRC) (16) Stephen Dempsey (17) Paul McWilliams (Michelin) (18) Neil Millar (19) Eileen Burns (20) Dale Bonnar (All Ballymena Road Club unless stated otherwise).