Ballymena Road Club – Chain Reaction Cycles – held their annual Road Race championship on the tough Lisnamurrican circuit at Broughshane.
There was a line up of just nineteen riders for the event, which was fewer than for most other club races this season but, of course, the race was closed to BRC members only with no visiting riders permitted to take part.
The entrants assembled at Houston’s mill as usual but there was a difference to the familiar starting point with the group then being neutralised to the top of the Caherty road hill on lap one.
The riders then faced six laps of the 5 miles circuit, with the finish line also at the top of the hill.
At the end of the first lap the race was more or less still together, with 16 riders still in the front pack, but this was to change on lap two when a group of six formed at the front.
The leaders included Veteran riders Tommy Wilson and Michael Carroll, junior Breandan McCavana, together with Connor Young, Ryan Bankhead and 2013 champion Matthew Brennan.
Matthew Brennan drew clear on the hill on lap three and by the top had opened up a gap of 30 seconds over his breakaway companions while Michael Carroll had dropped back into the chasing group.
On lap four Brennan consolidated his lead and was 45 seconds clear of the Bankhead, Young, Wilson and McCavana quartet with the main pack at 1 minute 41 seconds.
These positions stayed the same over the final two laps and when Brennan crossed the finish line after 1 hour 13 minutes 54 seconds racing he had a massive winning advantage of 1 minute 57 seconds over second placed Connor Young with Ryan Bankhead third, Tommy Wilson fourth and Breandan McCavana fifth all at 1.57.
Mark Wright led in the chasers 3 minutes 37 seconds behind for sixth place.
Other finishing positions were (7) Jon Hilditch (8) Gary Reid (9) Michael Carroll (10) Philip Morrison (11) Eileen Burns (12) Adrian Archibald all at 3.47 (13) Daryl Sempey at 4.27 (14) Ryan McNeilly at 12.37.
Well done to all the finishers and many thanks to all those who turned out to help marshal and support the riders.
Race winner Matthew Brennan said - “I knew going into the race I was going to have to get away at some point.
“I had planned to get away with a few others. The race started and there where a few attacks. Each time I went with, or got across to them. On the third lap, up the hill, I went to the front and upped the pace, and kept it up out of the top corner.
I looked round and realised that I had a gap so I just put the head down and got on with it. The group behind was visible for a lap or two, but eventually I knew I had gone well clear.
I kept the pace up expecting them to start pulling me back in, but managed to maintain a fairly large gap.
The new start/finish line is good as it gives you the flat and downhill to get warmed into the race instead of just going straight into the tough hills.
“Of course it also makes the finish much tougher too. The new finish suits me much more than the original as the climb helps me out! I am very happy to have won the club championship!”
MC QUIGG CUP RESCHEDULED
Tonight, Wednesday 15th July, Ballymena Road Club will hold their earlier postponed McQuigg cup 50 miles time trial at Woodgreen starting at 6.45pm sharp.
Last season Veteran Sean Wright took part in what he said was only his second 50 miles time trial - the last one being in 1995.
He recorded a personal best 1 hour 57 minutes 52 seconds to win the event, but only just, as second placed Jason Burns was just 7 seconds slower with 1.57.59.