Local school principal and cycling record holder John Madden (Inspired Cycling) won the gold medal at the Irish road race championships on Saturday.
Madden, who is coached by Stephen Gallagher of Dig Deep Coaching and receives the backing of the Portrush and based Velo Culture triathlon and cycle shop, out-sprinted his lone breakaway companion after the 62-man field was reduced to just two over the final few miles.
Madden was a thoroughly deserving winner of the Irish national Masters 50 race at Kilcullen, though Donal Mahon of Galway Bay Cycling Club pushed him to the absolute limit.
The Inspired Cycling man was runner-up to Declan Hanrahan (Carrick Wheelers) last year, but went one better this time around.
He escaped late with Mahon and as photographer Sean Rowe’s image shows, Madden pipped him in the two-up sprint for the line.
“I’m absolutely delighted, I can’t disguise the fact it’s extra sweet after coming second last year,” Madden admitted. “It was nice to get away and I must admit, Donal worked well when we broke clear.
“I was aggressive all day in staying at the front and covering moves but I was being watched, so any time I attacked everyone was dragging groups across to me, but with a lap to go the two of us got away.
“I tried to drop Mahon on the last climb but he was a lightly made-up guy and he caught me on the downhill and we came into the finish together.
“I remember thinking ‘here we go, two left hand bends and a sprint finish, I’m having déjà vu from last year’.”
Fortunately, Madden took it up the sprint early and powered for the line for the win.
“It just felt fantastic to take the road race jersey and add it to the time trial champion’s jersey I won last year.
“It’s my best win on the road. I’m not a natural road racer; I’ve only done two this year because they’re near where I live and they’re on iconic circuits,” he said of the Wallace Caldwell Memorial and Red Hand Trophy races run by Ballymena Road Club.
He added: “I am really delighted to have won the gold medal and to have lifted the coveted winner’s national jersey.”