Phil is the standout man from Banbridge at the North Down GP

BANBRIDGE CC’s Phil Beattie was the star performer in the Banbridge contingent which took part in one of the most prestigious races in the Cycling Ulster calendar – the North Down Grand Prix.

BANBRIDGE CC’s Phil Beattie was the star performer in the Banbridge contingent which took part in one of the most prestigious races in the Cycling Ulster calendar – the North Down Grand Prix.

In winning the Masters Race (50+) Phil spearheaded a magnificent effort from Banbridge CC’s five man team which included Ian Cochrane, Paul McGuckin, Chris McCann and Willie Weir.

To complete a great day Ian Cochrane stormed home in third place after being delayed by a last lap crash.

The 25 mile race over three laps of the Donaghadee course was fiercely contested by around 30 riders who set a severe pace with a tailwind start along the coast road before swinging up inland back to Donaghadee.

The Banbridge riders watched a number of breaks being reeled in on the early laps before Chris McCann pushed to the front at the start of the final lap. Stretching the field at this stage Chris put in a great turn to ensure no further breaks occurred until the hills around the back of the course when Paul McGuckin kept the pressure on the North Down sprinters with a series of kicks off the front as the terrain rose.

Over the top of the course the Phil and Ian moved to the front with Phil chasing down one determined attempt at a break.

As the peleton reached the run in along the Coast road Ian recovered his position with a mighty effort to make up ground lost at the crash while Phil tracked a home rider at high speed towards the long drag to the finish.

A final push 250 metres from the line saw Phil surging past the North Down rider to claim a well deserved first victory in the Masters series by a couple of bike lengths. And to the Banbridge team’s delight Ian Cochrane somehow found the strength to fight his way back up into a great third place.

Banbridge CC were represented by Kevin McAlinden in the A1 -A3 race and by Dan Purdy, Paul Carlisle and Marty Winters in the A4 race. Dan and Paul rode aggressively at the head of the peleton throughout with Marty holding pace well in his return to open racing for the first time this season.

Dan covered all the action with Paul in close support and at the end of a gruelling 5 lap race came through into an excellent 7th place in the 70 rider field - gaining some points towards upgrading while continuing to forge a reputation as a rider to be watched in this category.

Paul Carlisle , in his first season in open racing, once again rode impressively to finish comfortably towards the front of the peleton while Marty Winters was justifiably delighted to finish so well in his first race this year and will have gained the confidence to continue contributing to the team effort in these highly competitive races.

The A3 race was unfortunately stopped by the Commissaire towards the end of the final lap for rider safety reasons following a crash at the finish of the A4 race . By that stage Kevin McAlinden had ridden himself to the head of the peleton which was chasing down two breaks – both not far up the road.

Although obviously frustrating Kevin and the other riders certainly had a fierce workout as the pace was relentless with repeated attempts at breakaways. While the leading riders at the point of stoppage shared the points Kevin and the other riders certainly shared the pain of an afternoon’s hard racing!

- With the club racing scene underway it was great to see so many turn out on what was a very windy and hard night for the competitors. But with this the first race counting towards the club league the guys where keen to pit down early markers and gain some vital points in such a competitive series. On the night it was a 10 mile time trial on the Rathfriland Rd on Wednesday April 17 for the Weir Cup.

Phillip Beattie continued his recent run of form buy posting the best time of the night with Daniel Purdy a close second.

Phil Beattie 27.57, Dan Purdy 28.04, Neil Beattie 28.07, Ewan Anderson 29.03, Paul Carlisle 29.05, Stevie O’Hagan 29.20, Simon Curry 29.40, Terry Mackin 29.43, Ian Cochrane 29.50, Ciaran Magill 30.57, David Lavery 31.11, Graham Smyrl 31.31, Chris McCann 32.05, Steven Lavery 32.41, Andy Beattie 33.43, Steven Hillen 33.49, Paul Anderson, 35.05.

The next race will be a 10mile time trial starting on the Lurgan Road, Dromore for the Willis Cup. The racing starts at 7pm sharp so please get down for sign on early which greatly help the organisers. Hopefully the weather will be a bit more favourable.