Sherlock homes in on Wallace Caldwell cycle race win

THERE was a full field of 80 riders for Saturday’s Wallace Caldwell Memorial Race at Galgorm.

Tuesday, 13th March 2012, 8:50 am

Ballymena Road Club – Chain Reaction Cycles – were the organisers and they also fielded a team of seven riders for the race.

The club received sponsorship support for the event from Ben Morrow of Woodside’s Chemists, Church Street and Jonathan Keys of J & R Keys tile shop Castle Street, Ballymena and also the Caldwell family.

The organisers were naturally concerned, that such an early season date for the event could prove to be a problem, if the weather was nasty, but, as good fortune would have it, conditions were perfect for the time of the year.

This made the event easier to marshall and control and at the end of the 76 miles race the majority of the finishers were less than six minutes behind the winner.

The first breakaway group of the day formed at Gulladuff and by Maghera they had a lead of 45 seconds. Included were Leo McAllister, Philip Bremner, Gary Cranston, Thomas Martin, Cormac Clarke, Brian Stewart, Liam Curran, Shane McFerran and Dane Dunlop.

By Swatragh with 25 miles covered their lead was 55 seconds and at Garvagh it was 60 seconds, with the main field at 1 minute 20 seconds. By then Ryan Connor and Fraser Duncan had also joined these leaders.

The half-way point of the race is at Limavady and, as the leading group was descending towards the main Coleraine road, four riders moved clear. They were Leo McAllister, Fraser Duncan, Mark Buchanan and Gary Cranston.

They then faced the tough ascent to the Springwell forest and this section saw Leo McAllister drop back and three riders – Ryan Connor, Thomas Martin and Ryan Sherlock, in turn, join the front. This made a leading group of six.

At Aghadowey, on the road towards Kilrea, with 60 miles covered, an eight rider chasing group was at 35 seconds and the main field at 2 minutes 20 seconds.

That position more or less remained until the final climb of the day up Tully where Ryan Connor, unfortunately, lost his position at the front. Once over the top of the hill Ryan Sherlock struck for home with Fraser Duncan in hot pursuit and the other three, Cranston, Buchanan and Martin fighting it out for third place.

Sherlock, who was riding for Dublin team Cycleways, held off Duncan to win by 15 seconds in 3 hours 8 minutes 53 seconds while former Caldwell winner Gary Cranston took third place at 55 seconds. Mark Buchanan beat Thomas Martin for fourth two seconds later.

Ryan Connor’s gallant efforts to hold off the chasers, just failed as the Ahoghill rider was swept up close to the finish and instead it was Liam Curran who took sixth place 1 minute 36 seconds behind the winner.

Leo McAllister was there too, in seventh place and he won the A2 category prize. Ryan Connor came in at the back of this seven rider group in twelfth position and won the “first unplaced Ballymena RC” prize.

The main field was timed in at 3 hours 14 minutes 12 seconds, just over five minutes in arrears. Chris Beattie was included with this bunch in 25th place with Matthew Brennan there too in 59th position. They won the second and third Ballymena prizes.

Ryan Currie wasn’t far behind this group and he was timed at 3 hours 15 minutes 04 seconds, which was a very satisfactory result considering he hasn’t ridden the Caldwell race for a number of seasons. Ryan Bankhead, Simon Taggart and Clifford Grant also performed well during the race, well done to all the participants.

Thanks. A huge effort is required to make this event a success and Hugh McCullough (BRC Race Secretary) did a great job coordinating the static and motorcycle marshalls, judges, timekeepers and all other race personnel.

The PSNI motor cycle team escorted the race and they did an excellent job by giving the competitors a rolling closed roads environment to race in.

Many thanks too go to all the ladies who provided the post-race refreshments.

* See this week’s Ballymena Times for more photos from the race.