CYCLING: Kealey and Crawford go under the hour

ACHIEVING a time of less than one hour in a 25-mile Time Trial is on the wish list of all aspiring cyclists.

Some strive for years to reach this goal and many never make it - not Sharman Crawford. In only his second year of competition the Portrush man squeezed under the hour for the first time last Tuesday at Bann Wheelers TT on the Ballybogey/Ballymoney/Dervock Circuit.

Sharman’s time of 59.53 was only bettered by Coleraine powerhouse Sean Kealey for whom 25 miles in under the hour is familiar territory. Sean has had a stop start season so far and was not impressed by his winning time of 59.32.

At the post race press conference he came over like an errant schoolboy with a poor end of term report ‘can do better’ and ‘must improve’ were the sentiments he expressed even though he had taken 21 seconds off his nearest rival.

His future performances may be less open to self criticism as he gets fully into his racing season.

The times in this TT revealed a collective trait. The next three placings, all under one hour one minute were within 11 seconds of each other and showed Robert Kennedy on 1.00.49, Carl Russell on 1.00.51 and the ever improving Derek McMenemy on one hour and one minute even.

Roughly a minute further back and only separated by 12 seconds came Ronnie Kidd (1.01.54) and Dominic Drumm (1.02.06).

After a three minute gap, came in Michael Thompson on his bonecrusher in a very worthy 1.04.54. Inseparable on 1.05.06 each were two hardened campaigners in Gary Kendall and Russell Callaghan.

Roughly two minutes further back Steven Logan (finally off the one speed) and Damien Hazlett were bracketed on 1.07.25 and 1.07.36 respectively.

A further two minutes adrift were training partners Ashley Moore and Graham Montgomery on 1.09.34 and 1.09.44, both comfortably under the hour and ten.

Next in what is not his favourite discipline came James Thompson on 1.10.34 and finally the gallant Robbie Gaston on 1.20.47.

On Thursday 2 June on the tough Stranocum/Dervock Circuit this event well organised by Ballymoney Cycling Club took place in perfect weather.

It received strong support from the host Club, neighbours Bann Wheelers, Carn Wheelers from Maghera and Bann Valley from Portglenone whilst the Ballymena Club struggled for numbers.

Starter Maurice McAllister had settled on three groups. The first, containing some quality cyclists was given four and a half minutes on the large middle group which had a two minute allowance on the third.

The racing was fast and furious from the off with the hilly course taking its toll; the sharp climb back on to the Kirk Road in particular helped spreadeagle the field.

Try as they might groups two and three could not catch the first, and on the last lap through Stranocum and uphill to the finish by Stranocum Primary School it was clear BCC riders were in the driving seat.

Out in front rode the in form Olly Bateson who was well ahead of his team mate Gareth McBride for a Ballymoney one two. The days of these two boys in the first group are surely numbered!

In third place followed a Carn Wheeler Hugh Evans and, in a sterling performance, Bann Wheeler Graham Montgomery in fourth.

Other strong Coleraine rides came in that group from Davy Parke, belying his lack of training in seventh, and Damien Hazlett in ninth, both earning points in the League.

Damien had followed up a good 25-mile Time Trial on Tuesday with this top ten placing and is a man coming into form.

The next race in this hotly contested series is now hosted by Bann Wheelers on Tuesday 21 June at 7pm over the Letterloan Road Course. Lets hope for another exciting evening’s racing.

Andrew Torrens took part in the Bobby Crilly Classic promoted by Phoenix CC. Despite the horrible conditions it was the largest field yet to tackle the classic race which finishes at the top of Divis mountain.

All the decisive action took place on the slopes of the final climb where Andrew would feel at home. The talented young Bann Wheeler finished in sixth position in the B Race and is becoming a name to look out for.

Bann Wheelers Kay Hack competed for the Cycling Ulster Squad in the womens elite International Crit in St Hellier, Jersey in the weekend before last.

Although inexperienced in this discipline Kay and her colleague Hannah Francis settled down well and were riding hard until they were pulled from the race in its closing stages.

More comfortable in the road race on the following day the ladies completed five laps of a tough seven mile circuit which included two sharp climbs out of the Bay.

Again Kay featured strongly for Cycling Ulster and together with Tonya Moran was the best of the Ulster riders.