Westport was the venue recently for the second ever Mayo Cycling Championship. The event attracted the best cyclists that Mayo has to offer with in-form riders such as Patrick Clarke from Castlebar and professional rider Charles Prendergast from Louisburgh taking their place on the starting line along with 51 other cyclists from the nine cycling clubs in Mayo.
With 10 different categories to cater for in this race, there were lots of little races within the race, and tactics played a role across all categories. But in the end aggressive riding was rewarded as it was those who attacked who gained the most. The race route took in a 63km circuit, which travelled through Newport, Glenisland, Glenhest and Newport again, with the finish at Minister Hill on the approach to Westport town.
The race started at a frantic pace with attacks from the drop of the flag, a number of moves were instigated by Castlebar CC, but they were all reeled in before Newport. But then a move by Ciaran Clarke (Castlebar CC ) and Padraig Marrey (Western Lakes CC ) saw them opening up a gap on the hill up by Cuilmore school. But they were reeled in by a chase group of two riders, Patrick Clarke (Castlebar CC ) and Charles Prendergast not too long after their initial break. The quartet rode as a solid unit for the next 40kms holding a gap of around one minute on the bunch of chasers.
With 7km to go the attacks up front splintered the quartet with Prendergast and Clarke opening a small gap on Marrey and Ciaran Clarke.
Prendergast went for broke when he put in a huge attack on Barley Hill with 2k to go, putting Clarke under serve pressure. A second attack opened daylight between the two and a pursuit all the way to line ended with victory for the Louisburgh man for the second time in a row at these championships. Charles who races professionally with the Polygon team was more than happy with the result. In the sprint for third Marrey had just enough to take it from Ciaran Clarke, with Marrey winning the veterans gold and Clarke taking bronze in the A1 category.