The cycling season kicked off again last weekend at fairly short notice and the Lakeland Cycle Club have also been very hard at work behind the scenes, putting together a very exciting race calendar for the upcoming season.
As always, the Lakeland league is likely to be very popular with regional riders, and to be widely recognised as one of the best organised and competitive club leagues in Ulster.
This year comprises a TT league with a chasing TT fun event and 3up TT at the end of the season, 10-league road races, two open road races and also a hill climb league. The club championship will also be a hotly contested affair in the warmth of early August.
The first club event on the calendar took place on Wednesday evening with a 10-mile TT on the Maguiresbridge to Tempo circuit.
The Ulster road race season is also under way and the first event took place on Saturday morning – the Annaclone GP.
Always early in the calendar, this tough circuit is renowned for separating the groups with a tough uphill finish.
This year Lakeland had riders competing in all four male categories:, A1 (Mark McGirr); A2 (Conor Sprice); A3 (Ronan Campbell); and A4 (Fergus McGirr, Danny Browne and Nigel Foster).
The A4 race was first off for four laps of the circuit, and a brisk pace was set from the start in blustery conditions.
Fergus McGirr had ended his season last year with a win and was hoping to maintain this form in this race.
The blustery conditions prevented any sustained breakaways, which meant that at the turn for home, the final two miles with a tailwind would lead to a bunch sprint.
All three Lakeland riders jostled for position with McGirr leading out the pack on a long-distance break for the line.
It was to prove unsuccessful, however as the bunch caught and swallowed him up, leaving all three Lakeland men to finish in the bunch after the punishing circuit.
It is, however, early days and as well as McGirr, Danny Browne and Nigel Foster showed that there is plenty more to come.
The second race was a handicapped affair with A3/A2/A1 all in the same race with time gaps.
In all three levels the pace was searing, and all of the categories groups broke up on the tough circuit.
All three Lakeland riders preformed well and were happy to test their legs so early in the season.
The winner was Omagh Man Gareth O’Neil, of Caldwell Cycles, who broke away on the last lap to take a fantastic solo victory, representing the northwest once again.
The club are delighted to have restrictions lifted to allow events, and so it’s full steam ahead on the Fermanagh roads, and all are welcome if they wish to test their legs within the competitive racing calendar.