DUFFIN TRANSPORT LOUGHGUILE RAS
It was eventful afternoon around the country roads of Loughgiel with reputably the most difficult A4 race in the calendar and so it turned out for many riders on what was four seasons in one day. Bright sunshine coupled with a cold wind followed by hail and snow showers kept riders guessing what the weather might hold as the race unfolded.
The race on Sunday was hosted this year by the newly formed Duffin Transport Racing and was an all-round resounding success for this new Team.
Duffin Transport Racing would like to in particular thank all those members of other clubs including Dunloy CC, Ballymoney CC and Bann Wheelers who came out to assist with important marshalling duties on the day without which no race would either be possible or safe as well as the assistance of motorbike outrider Aiden McIlfatrick ably assisted by Simon his cameraman.
The race got underway with a scheduled 4 ½ laps of the undulating roads around the beautiful Loughguile countryside followed by the famous mountain lap of SlieveanOrra and the notorious climb up over the Reservoir Road to come.
A nervousness existed within the peloton on the first lap with all the pre-race chat of what was to come later on. The pace was steady with early attacks from Dunloy rider Philip McGuigan and local cyclist Ollie Bateson of Duffin Transport but as they tried to make a move up the road the peloton chased the break down.
On the third lap Keith Millar, North Down CC peeled away off the front and stayed away for a full circuit until John McElderry of Bann Valley crossed over and the two worked well together to form a 30 second gap. The chasing peleton picked up the pace and strong riding to the fore by East Tyrone and Duffin Transport, Maryland Wheelers riders and Dunloy CC brought the group together.
Reservoir Road Climb
As Reservoir Climb approached pre-race favourites started to show their head at the front including Ronnie Kidd of Bann Wheelers and Colin Loughery of Roe Valley CC were joined by Duffin Transport riders Olly Bateson, Adrian Madden and Davy Wallace including riders from Phoenix CC and Errigcal CC.
It has been proven that those that have encountered Reservoir Road that the first riders up and over are very likely to maintain their advantage right to the end despite there still being 20 miles to the finish. Again how often can a statement like that apply to an A4 race? With that in mind those riders with ambition charged to the front on the ascent of the Reservoir Road.
Some of them unfortunately fell on the on sword going faster than their beating hearts could manage and crumbling under the strain. Ryan Mitchell Maryland CC led at the summit. On the descent 3 main groupings emerged with anyone behind this effectively out of contention. The front group however included at least 10 riders and included the strong men including Paddy Kelly of Carn Wheelers, Colin Loughery of Roe Valley, Charles Gallagher Errigal CC amongst others. The long slog was far from over as the riders began the ascent of Altarichard Dam continuing up towards the windmills before getting some mild relief passing the back of the forest.
On the descent of Orra a number of riders lost control and ended up in the bog quite literately including Josh Daly of TVR Ronnie Kidd of Bann Wheelers and Richie Sheerin of Foyle CC. What a mess they were by the facial expressions caught on camera but the brave souls battled on and completed the course.
And so the race continued unabated. Marylands Mitchell and Torrens-Spence from Phoenix led into Magherahoney soon to be joined by the chasing group of 10, 90 seconds clear of the next group.
The run to the finish is anything but easy, zapping the legs even further. The last group contained one Armagh rider who unfortunately punctured with 2.5 miles to go.
A sprint finish was the way to settle the day. Paddy Kelly got his sprinting legs on and managed to win the day followed closely by Donegal man Charles Gallagher pipping Colin Loughery into third.
Phoenix CC rider Jeff Torrens Spence was fourth, Ryan Mitchell Maryland fifth and EACC rider Gary Nugent taking the final points in sixth.
Paddy Kelly now earns his stripes and should be upgraded to the ranks of A3 as a result of the victory. The A4s will be glad to get back to the flat roads.
Duffin Transport would like to thank all those that helped make this a classic road race, which provided the riders with one of the toughest tests they will face this year.
Without the support of the Loughgiel residents and Ballymoney, Bann Wheelers and Dunloy cycling clubs this race would simply not have happened.
A video of the race will be available on Duffin Transport RT Facebook.