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SLCC riders impress at Bann Valley Classic

Donal Burns

Donal Burns

TWO local cyclists were in action at picturesque Portglenone at the weekend, putting in a strong showing in the Bann Valley Classic.

On a fast flat course with strong sidewinds, Strabane/Lifford Cycling Club’s Stewart Graham and Dean Heanderson finished in the bunch with Alistair Gribbon of Carn Wheelers taking the win.

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Also back in the saddle after a long lay off was former SLCC rider Aidan McGlynn of Phoenix Cycling Club. He returned to the road after a bad crash a few years ago.

On Sunday Four Masters Cycling Club held their open race, the Zach O’Donnell Memorial around the roads of Convoy.

SLCC had a strong field of riders taking part in all race groups and hopes were high of a good performance.

In the A2/A3 race, riders had four laps of a hilly circuit to navigate and a total of 64km.

Taking up the tale of trek, club spokesperson Michael McGlynn explained, “As usual the race went off very hard and many riders were dropped on the first climb.

“Donal Burns was at the front and did a lot of work to try and get a breakaway going. A few breaks did get away but with Kieran Porter, JP Connolly and Rodney Orr in the mix those breaks were all soon reeled back. Vincent McCarron was as usual working hard at the front when disaster struck not once but twice as a double puncture on the first lap finished his race.

“On the last lap Donal made his move with two others and it was Donal who had the legs to take his first A3 win. It was a fantastic result in a very strong field of riders. Donal is only a few points off A2 and by the way he is racing this year it will only be a matter of time before he moves up.

“JP Connolly took 9th, Chris Coyle was 11th, Rodney Orr 12th and Kieran Porter 13th.”

In the A4 race riders had three laps and 48km to cover.

“Again this was a very fast race and Shane Kelly of SLCC rode very strongly at the front. SLCC’s Warren Blackburn was also having a great race and was never far from the front but it was to be SLCC’s 2013 champ Shane’s day as he tore the race apart and sprinted for his first open race victory. A brilliant result and a well deserved victory, showing everyone he is back to his best and will be a strong contender for major honours this year,” Michael explained.

Warren Blackburn had a great race and finished in 6th place.

In the masters race, two laps and 32km, Eamonn Toland had a solid race and showed determination to take a great 5th place in a classy field of riders.

Brendans Patton’s lesiure group did 60 miles on Sunday with a coffee stop in Churchhill.

Michael McGlynn added, “Special mention goes to Sean McAdams, Micky McGonagle and Seamas Devine for strong riding and helping those riders that were suffering at times.

“The club had a fantastic week of cycling, particularly the performances of Donal Burns and Shane Kelly. A big well done too to all lesiure cyclists out midweek with Dan O’Brien, Sean Mor and Brendan Patton.”

SLCC’s first race is on Wednesday April 23 at Artigarvan and for more information log on to Strabane/Lifford Cycling Club’s Facebook page.

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