O’Neill returns to conquer as he overcomes elements

Jack O'Neill attacks Sunrising Hill on his way to retaining his title. Photo: Paul Evans
Jack O'Neill attacks Sunrising Hill on his way to retaining his title. Photo: Paul Evans

Reigning champion and record holder Jack O’Neill overcame the opposition and the elements in Banbury Star Cyclists Club season opener.

Sunday’s Banbury Star’s Hardriders Open Time Trial – for the Broughton Cup – certainly lived up to its name, with rain and an increasing crosswind making the tough season opening event even more challenging.

The 23 mile course, held entirely on the A422, started and finished in Wroxton with the turning point at Ettington roundabout. Sunrising Hill was the main challenge on this otherwise straightforward course with the long ascent coming towards the 19 mile mark but the conditions meant that even the descent was far from easy.

The final 58-rider entry, which included a record number of Star riders started, at one-minute intervals. With a few of the early runners setting some fast times for the conditions, the wait was on to see if the favourite and current record holder O’Neill (Team Jewson), starting last, would be able to retain his title.

However, it soon became clear when he crossed the line that, having past many riders ahead of him, he was again on top form. That was confirmed by his winning time of 53.19, a healthy 49 seconds ahead of second placed Richard Jennings (Army Cycling).

Paul Atkins (Kenilworth Wheelers) was third, a further 23 seconds behind, with junior Blaine Carpenter (Shutt Ridley RT) finishing an excellent fourth following a delay at the start with a loose wheel.

Simon Bull was the first Star rider home in 13th place on 59.11 with fellow club member Suzy Patience winning the women’s category and team-mate Naomi de Pennington finishing third.

Along with Helen French, that result also earned them the women’s team prize with the Shutt Ridley team of Simon Smith, Jered Allcock and Blaine Carpenter winning the men’s team prize. In the veteran’s category, Mark Wise (Team Jewson) was first followed by Roger Foster (BSCC) and third-placed Tim Davies (Luton CC)

Times for the rest of the top ten were Blaine Carpenter 55.51, Simon Smith 56.40, Mark Wise 56.56, Harry Kirby (Bicester Millennium) 58.11, Jered Allcock 58.25, Tim Davies 58.27 and Darren Alexander (Team Cherwell) 58.32. In the women’s section, Patience timed 1.03.07 followed by Emma Bexson (Stratford CC) 1.03.31 and Naomi de Pennington 1.05.48.