Bray Wheelers were the promoting club behind Ireland’s first ever downhill road race the Downhill Road Blitz descending the Red Lane on the Sugarloaf mountain, County Wicklow on 20 October.
It was organisied by club member Janos Köhler who was fresh back from Colorado having recently placed second the ultimate Red Bull Road Rage of the season on 5th October, securing the world number 1 ranking for 2013 in the process, a second time in his career after the same feat in 2010.
Top international riders travelled over for the event, including two time world number 1 ranked Red Bull Road Rage downhill road racing specialist Guillaume Gualandi and his team mate Fred Mazières from France, an ex world cup downhill skier, also a podium regular at the Road Rage races. Christian Lademann, ex UCI team pursuit track world champion, twice runner up in Red Bull Road Rage events and his former team mate Mathias Kahl from Germany with whom he won a national German Madison title during his pro career also made the journey. A strong Irish contingent including several Bray Wheelers riders led by Köhler ensured a top level in racing.
The format was simple, riders descended the Red Lane in groups of four to see who could get down the mountain the quickest. Initial qualifying rounds were held. The top riders then qualified for knockout heats where only the two fastest riders would progress to each subsequent round until only four remained. The top four riders then battled it out at terrifying speeds to see who would take home the title.
The women’s final saw Fiona Meade (Blarney CC, Ireland) impose her superiority with a commanding performance over Joanne McCallum (Unattached, Ireland), with up and coming local underage rider Caoimhe Ivory (Bray Wheelers CC, Irleand) showing her calibre against strong senior opposition to take the final podium spot.
In the men’s final it was a showdown between the two most decorated riders the sport has produced, Guillaume Gualandi (Cantal Team Road, France) and local rider, Wicklow man Janos Köhler Black Sheep Bikes/Bray Wheelers CC, Ireland).
They were joined by Fred Mazières (Cantal Team Road, France) and Tadhg Sheehan (Dublin University CC, Ireland) to fight it out for the top honours.
It was an titanic battle in a super fast final with top speeds touching 90km/h which saw Köhler best Gualandi for the overall title with Sheehan taking the final podium spot with a very strong performance.