Ballymena Road Club – Chain Reaction Cycles – has a full entry for next weekend’s Wallace Caldwell memorial road race which is scheduled to take place on Saturday 21st March.
The event will once again receive sponsorship backing from J and R Keys tile shop Castle Street and Ben Morrow of Woodside’s chemists Church Street Ballymena.
This year’s event has the added status of being part of this season’s all Ireland classic road racing league series.
Of the 70 visiting entrants 24 are first category “A1” riders. The newly formed Asea team has a full team of five A1 riders entered including - Ali McAuley, Chris Reilly, Roger Aiken, Bryan McCrystal and last year’s Red Hand Trophy winner Fraser Duncan.
Fraser Duncan was runner up in the Caldwell last year when his team mate Adam Armstrong - who hasn’t entered this year - took the honours.
Thomas Martin, the winner in 2013, Paul Mulligan and Conor Murphy (all of Caldwell cycles) are also numbered amongst the favourites. The Ballymena Road Club entrants are Clifford Grant, Matthew Brennan, Ryan Bankhead, Hall Booth, Karl Taylor and Michael Carroll.
The last time there was a Ballymena winner was in 2007 when Ryan Connor, riding in the colours of Giant Asia took the honours.
Saturday’s cycle race action was centered on the lough Neagh marina town of Ballyronan where the Spires Grand Prix road races attracted an impressive entry.
The best placed of the local riders was Clough’s Aaron Swan of the Nicholas Roche Performance Team. He finished fifth in the “A” race which was for first, second and third category riders.
The majority of the entrants in this race were A3’s and they were given a five minute starting advantage over the relatively small A1/A2 bunch.
Nicholas Gormley (Carn Wheelers) broke away on the first lap and by the end of the second lap juniors Aaron Swan and Jake Gray (NRPT) had made it across to him.
The A1/A2 “scratch” bunch was steadily closing down the gap and had reduced the handicap by 2 minutes going into the third lap. However the race commisssaire Peter Field felt compelled to stop the main A3 bunch to issue severe warnings about riding on the wrong side of the road.
By the time he had issued his instructions the A1/A2 bunch arrived just as he restarted the race.
One of these chasers, Craig Rea of Phoenix, went on to win the race while Aaron held on to take fifth place.
Of the Ballymena Road Club entrants Hall Booth tells me “We had five riders - myself, Clifford Grant, Matthew Brennan, Jason Burns and Brendan McCavana.
“Matthew and I finished in a bunch of 30 behind a break which decided the results. The other 3 lads didn’t finish.”
Eileen Burns finished second in the ladies race at the McCann cup meeting at Omagh on Sunday.