Once again the Cycling Ireland virtual cycling league attracted huge numbers to its Saturday morning race.

Alongside the usual contingent of amateur cyclists from Ireland , north and south, the league is attracting bigger numbers of cycling professionals each week due to its highly competitive nature. These included Tony Gallopin, Lilian Calmejane, Ronan Racault, Florian Daupin,Quentin Jauregui and Julien Duval of Ag2R La Mondial.

For the local Lakeland men to be racing alongside these professionals is testament to the hard training they have put in. This week the race was divided into a Divided Mass Start so that the A men alongside the professionals went off first and Lakeland men Conor Sprice and Nigel Foster joined their ranks.

Next off in the B section were Chris Kelly, Kieran McGrory and Paul McMulkin with Gareth McCormick hoping to mop up points in the C section.

The Course was a short 28Km route with one very steep leg breaking climb in the final third of each of the three laps, and it was this climb that would prove decisive in each category.

The A men stayed with the front group until this climb where professional Irish rider and leader of the league, Belfast based Chris McGlinchey, split the field to pieces and spent the rest of the race in a small group of four or five riders until eventually loosing out in a sprint to Par Backer, a Swedish professional ice hockey player.

Conor Sprice was again the first Lakeland man home from the A grouping placing in the top 100 again, less than three minutes back with Nigel Foster not far behind in his first race as an A standard rider in this league.

Within the B section the race also split on the steep climb and Kieran McGrory stuck with the pace and finished as the best placed Lakeland rider with Chris Kelly in close succession.

Gareth McCormick enjoyed a very competitive race in a large group in the C race and is showing steady improvement.

The league continues each Saturday morning and is streamed live on the Cycling Ireland facebook page with full commentary.

The Lakeland cycling club virtual league continued on Wednesday evening last with another 40km circuit on the Zwift platform. This week 11 Lakeland riders took part in a field of approximately 70, with Kieran Byrne, an A3 rider on the open road racing scene joining the ranks.

Gareth McCormick and Kieran Byrne were first out of the blocks and stayed in the large front group of C riders. The next group on the road contained the vast majority of Lakeland contingent and it was from this B group that the success was to be had. This group stayed together for the first 5k but started to break up within the ‘London’ circuit after that. Several Lakeland men stayed with the front group of B whilst from behind the ‘scratch’ men of group A had a two minute time gap to make up.

Seamy McGovern and Conor Sprice were always to the fore in the A group and heavily involved in the pace making to bring back the race ahead but in the end it was nearly but not quite, as they failed to catch the small group of B riders that contained only a few by the end of the race.

From the good sized group of B men starting out only Kieran McGrory was able to stay at the front of the race outpacing the fast approaching Sprice and McGovern to be the first Lakeland man home.

A nice reward for Kieran and his first ‘virtual’ victory. His form had been showing this result was coming in the last few weeks. Seamy McGovern was the next man home, an impressive performance in his first race within the A group, followed by Conor Sprice. Philip Bremner is another man to be watched as he is making improvements each week and his previous racing background as an international will have all the Lakeland men looking over their shoulders in the coming weeks.

Gareth McCormick rounded off the top five with another fine performance and is slowly climbing up the league rankings. Other performances of note was Nigel Foster’s first night in A, a step up for Nigel who races at A4 on the open road and must surely be tipped for great results when the road racing season resumes. And Kieran Byrne re-joined the racing ranks for the first time after a long lay off and quickly showed he hasn’t lost his speed by getting himself disqualified for outperforming ‘C’ category power allowances! This leaves the current league standings as follows:

1. Connor Sprice 38

2. Kyle Fisher 33

3. Kieran McGrory 31

4. Mark McGirr 30

5. Philip Bremner 26

6. Paul Beaumont 24

7. Gareth McCormick 23

8. Ronan Campbell 17

9. Nigel Foster 14

10. Lee Somerville 12

11. Chris Kelly 10

12. Seamus McGovern 9

13. Paul McMulkin 8

14. Kieran Byrne 0