Last Saturday marked the busiest day of the season in the Maryland Wheelers calendar, promoting their annual open road races on the Hillsborough-Annahilt-Legacurry 9-mile circuit.
This is one of the most sporting courses on the calendar, made even more challenging this year with the brutal headwinds faced by the competitors on the climbs and drags from Legacurry up to the finishing line straight outside Hillsborough Free Presbyterian Church.
The club ran four races this year with a total of almost 170 competitors.
First race off was the women’s road race, which forms part of the Women’s Ulster Road Race League.
Staged over 3 laps of the course, this was a fast and attacking race with Rachel Mitchell (North Down) attacking from the start.
Rachel and Orlagh Montague moved clear of the chasing bunch, with Orlagh winning a nail-biting sprint by a tyre-width on the line. Shenna McKiverigan of neighbouring club Banbridge CC crossed the line in third place.
The next race off was the under 16 class, racing in the “McCann Givan Stewart” Classic, again held over 3 laps of the circuit.
This was a fast, aggressive race with the starting bunch of riders splitting into various small groups on the road.
A small group came in together, with Harvey Barnes (East Tyrone CC) taking the honours ahead of Adam Ward (Omagh) and Liam Wilson (Derrymore CC). First girl was Amanda Gallagher (Errigal CC) and she also took the girl’s King of the Hills award, with Robbie Doherty (Ballymoney) in the boy’s category.
The A4 class race was held over 5 laps of the circuit and it stayed together for the majority of the race, controlled by the home riders from Maryland keen to see it down to a bunch sprint to suit their star riders – and they did not disappoint. David Dickson (Dromara CC) almost spoiled the plans with a brilliant lone attack on the final climb from Legacurry, but Maryland’s Adam Pyper and David McIntyre displayed some gutsy riding to get across to Dickson. Coming around the last bend to the finishing straight, Pyper overwhelmed Dickson, setting the scene for McIntyre to take a well-deserved win in a one-two for the Maryland pair.
In the main event of the day for A1,2 and 3 riders, competitors raced for the Tommy Givan Memorial Trophy – one of the most prestigious events in the Irish calendar.
Raced over 7 laps of the circuit, the competition was intense from the start, with riders such as Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles), Cameron McIntyre (Banbridge CC), Gary Cranston (East Antrim Audi), Angus Fyffe (Omagh Wheelers), Jack Wilson (An Post), Gavin McGowan (Dromara CC) and Darragh McCarter (Donegal Bay) showing excellent form and moving clear in the race winning break of the day.
Kinning and Wilson then broke free from this small group, with Kinning taking the sprint easily on the line. Fyffe won a three-up sprint from the next group to complete the podium placing.
Maryland would like to congratulate all winners and competitors, and thank police, St John Ambulance, motorbike outriders, volunteers and locals for their support in making this an exciting and safe day of racing.