Ballymoney Cycling Club have added another “Open Race” victory to their ever growing list of success. This time it was Neville Patton who won the tough 50 mile Danny Boy Race at Feeny near Dungiven.
On a bright summer’s day in the foothills of the Sperrin mountains, Ballymoney CC Racing Team riders Ryan Patton, Jack Owens and Neville Patton faced over 60 other competitors in the Roe Valley promoted event on Sunday.
Four laps of over 12 miles each time saw the field stretched and it was not long before the group was getting less as the pace took its toll and the field started to shrink in size. Young Jack Owens after 4 miles had to withdraw with what was his second puncture of the day and climbed into the BCC team car in frustration.
The course was starting to test the riders and this made for good racing.
The design and choice of the circuit at Feeny is testament to the race organiser George Boyd and his desire to see good quality racing with race distances that naturally test the riders.
This was not one of what is becoming typical of races in Northern Ireland where a lot of race organisers hold their events on flat and not too difficult circuits.
This one would see the terrain and fatigue take its toll as the race progressed.
Adrian Finnegan of Banbridge CC was one of the first riders to try and break away but as is typical in A4 style racing the bunch upped the pace and he was reeled back in again.
Kings Moss riders Andrew McBurney and Curtis Gilmore on the third lap opened up a gap on the main bunch and at one stage had a 20 second advantage on the ever watchful and now getting nervous bunch.
Again the pace went up and the two breakaway riders were swallowed up.
Neville and Ryan could be seen near the front and looked in control of the bunch as it entered the final lap. Attempts were now being made to escape but it looked like a bunch sprint would decide the outcome!
As most of the field were settling for the sprint a group of three riders had opened a small gap and as the race entered the final mile and with the long a strenuous uphill climb to the line, it looked as though they might just hold out.
But the tough BCC Racing Team road captain had other ideas, Neville Patton is not someone who says a lot but would rather that the legs do the talking.
And as the necks at the finish line were straining to see who the lone figure was coming towards the finish, it became clear that Patton had jumped clear of the main field and caught the group of three riders.
He then in what can only be described as “gutsy Ballymoney style of racing”, put his head down and rode away from them to take a clear victory at the finish. With Neville’s son Ryan in the main bunch it was a great day for them and with only eight days to Neville’s birthday the celebrations can start early.
When asked at the finish what he thought about how the race turned out, the Ballymoney man replied, “Sometimes you have to do these things to show these young boys how it should be done!” So true Neville and the best way is by example.
This followed a great week’s racing for the Ballymoney club when they hosted their round of the Interclub league and 70 riders turned out at Stranocum to do battle for the points on offer on the tough Stroan Circuit. Unlike Sunday’s race this event is handicapped allowing slower riders a start and with the field divided into four groups the Kirk Hills were given an exhibition of racing in the evenings sunshine.
Ballymoney CC Racing Team had its full squad of twelve riders in the action, Neville Patton, Jason Taggart, Ryan Fenton, Martin Carroll (Congratulations to Martin from all at Ballymoney CC and his special announcement at the weekend), Jordan McCaw, Hugh McConaghie, Aaron Dickie, Ryan Orr, Stuart Laverty, Chris Surgeoner (Under 16), Ryan Patton and Steven McAllister. Ballymoney CC would like to thank the members and supporters who turned out to make this another very successful event for the club.
It is great to see how the Ballymoney club are developing their young riders and it really shows when junior rider Jordan McCaw, under 16’s Stuart Laverty, Chris Surgeoner and Ryan Orr can mix it with the big boys in these types of races.
The future looks bright for these young men as they get the best of coaching and information is freely shared by everyone in the club.
With riders like Ryan Patton coming back into form after a few years out it shows the strength in depth the club has to offer. Ryan who was one of the top schoolboys in Ireland, riding week in week out against now professionals Dan Martin (Garmin Cervelo), Paudi O’Brien (Vc la Pomme), Nicholas Roche (Ag2r) and Philip Deignan (Lance Armstrong’s Radioshack).
This shows the world of information and experience that Ryan can pass on to his young team mates.
With the Bann Wheelers round of the Interclub racing coming up next week at Letterloan, Neville will be looking to have a full squad out again and he will be giving some clear instructions on how he wants the race run. Ballymena are in first place with 2nd and third going to Ballymoney and Carn Wheelers.
On Tuesday evening Ballymena Road Club are holding a road race in Clough village starting at 7.15pm, Ballymoney riders are invited to support this race in the county Antrim heart land.
This Wednesday evening Ballymoney CC will hold a 10 mile TT on the Portrush line starting at 7.30pm.