King Kelly adds to long list of honours as he takes the Latin Quarter inaugural classic.
Excitement filled the air yesterday evening on the streets of Galway’s Latin Quarter as the inaugural Coke Bikes Classic bike racing event kicked off, in aid of the ACT for Meningitis charity. Mainguard, Cross and High Streets were the scene of some lung-busting action as cyclists from Galway Bay Cycling Club mixed it up with the legendary Irish cycling supremo, Sean Kelly.
Organiser Nigel Forde, long time Galway Bay Cycling Club stalwart, came up with the idea essentially to add a bit of cycling fun to Paddy’s weekend. Local city councilor Niall McNelis and members of the city’s Transport Unit got behind the idea and great effort was put in to getting the inaugural event off the ground.
Members of Galway Bay Cycling Club, a number of local sporting heroes, the Galway Baybes women’s cycling team and King Kelly himself lined up to take part in this exciting event. The lung-busting action took place in the Latin Quarter around the slippery Mainguard, Cross and High Streets.
The city’s Coke bikes were used for the racing, equalising all comers in respect of the tools of their trade, however, some were more adept at cornering on these 3-geared behemoths than others! There were a number races on the card to cater for 50 or so entrants from juvenile, women, non-cyclist sporting local heroes, relay races and the big one, the Last Man Standing.
Conditions were far from ideal with a nice wet sheen on the cobbled surface and the odd slippery man-hole cover thrown in so competitors had to be on their guard as they made the tight corners at speed. The juveniles showed how to have some fun and set the scene for the first of a number of relay races. These were executed with great gusto and a number of participants needed reviving at Race Headquarters in the Dew Drop Inn shortly after.
The ladies displayed great co-ordination on their circuits, all neatly dressed in pink and black and their bike handling was something to be admired too! The sporting heroes laid down a marker to the cycle racing fraternity indicating they would give any of them a run (or cycle!) for their money.
As the main event approached course bookmaker and compere Olly Turner (GBFM) indicated the smart money was on young Tony Bourke who seemed to display a certain nonchalance toward proceedings but was deemed to be holding something in reserve as he whooped and high-fived his way around the course in the heats. When the final came around, however, it was the guile and resilience of a certain Sean Kelly that shone through. Perhaps it was his experience of winning twice on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix or the dog-eat-dog nature of criterium racing in northern Europe, Kelly certainly showed he hasn’t lost it as he came from fourth position as they passed Supermacs to cut in as they rounded the corner on to High Street, leaving them all for dust.
Darach Behan, Frankie Barrett and the aforementioned Bourke were left with mouths agape as the supremo left them for dust to go on and take the honours.
Of course these events don’t run on their own and thanks must be attributed to a vast array of people, including the following:
Nigel Forde, Niall McNelis, Galway Transport Unit, An Gárda Síochána, Ronnie Greaney (The Dew Drop Inn), Brendan Sheehan, Donal Kelly (for the photos), Brendan Quigley and others too numerous to mention right now.