Ulster Cyclo-Cross

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Date: Sunday 5 October 2014
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 1
Location: Lurgan Park
Host club: Apollo CT

It was a return to Lurgan Park for the first round of the Ulster Cyclo-cross season 2014 hosted by Apollo Cycling Team on Sunday 5 October.  Only the Friday before race day had seen any significant rain on the park after 6 weeks of dry weather.  The park was in super condition with vibrant autumn colours which saw the venue full of walkers, children playing and, of course, cyclists.  A special thanks to Craigavon Borough Council for allowing the use of the park and to the park staff for their support.

For the 2014 season the overall series has been sponsored by the ChainReaction Cycles Belfast Store who has also provided an event package at the race which included joint branded podium backdrop and banners, cow bells, sweets, vouchers and a raffle prize.  The first raffle prize of a new helmet was won by Barry Kellett.  Also available were 3 demo Vitus cyclo-cross bikes which were trialled today by some of the riders.

For the 2014 cyclo-cross season race categories were based on the age group that the rider would be in 2015.  This meant that a second year Under 8 would enter the Under 10s race, second year Under 10 would enter the Under 12s race etc. 

Starting off the day was the Under 6s race with a wide line up of 20 smiling riders ready to take one two laps of the switchback circuit.  On hand was the Mayor of Craigavon Colin McCusker to start the race.  Rhys Hepburn (Island Wheelers) took the win ahead of Beth Campbell and Ben Shaw (both from Xmtb McConvey Cycles).

Next up was the Under 8s race which was 3 laps of the circuit around the pavilion and tennis courts.  Top 3 in the boys race were Harry Hobbs (VC Glendale), Calum Hepburn (Island Wheelers) and Thomas McAlinden (Apollo CT).  In the girls race the podium line up was Aliyah Rafftery (Island Wheelers), Danielle Todd (VC Glendale) and Cara Suckling (Maryland Wheelers).

The Under 10s course was longer this year and the riders had to complete 4 laps.  There were 11 boys and 11 girls at the start line.  It was an Island Wheelers one-two with Adam Rafferty finishing well clear of club mate Oisin Ferrity with Clark Logan (Ballymoney CC) completing the boys podium.  For the girls race it was a clean sweep for VG Glendale with Aine Doherty continuing her dominance finishing 3rd rider overall with Lily Brown and Sophie Osborne taking second and third respectively.

The Under 12s course was very similar in length to the Under 10s but with an addition feature turn that was designed to challenge the senior riders but seemed to be better negotiated by these young riders.  Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers) dominated this event pushing the lead out rider from the host club, Keith Abraham, out of his comfort zone to the point where he pulled in after 3 of the 5 laps and let Darren head the race himself.  Shea O'Kane (Phoenix CC) has been concentrating on road racing this year but hasn't lost his off-road skills to finish second.  Scott Robert (Island Wheelers) on his junior sized cyclo-cross bike finished third.  In the girls race the McKee sisters were split by North Down's Maia Simmons with Ciara McKee (VC Glendale) first and Cara McKee (VC Glendale) third.  

The 11:45 race was the most hectic of the day.  The start line was down near the Waves leisure centre and lined up in order were the Cyclo-cross women, Cyclo-cross B race men, Under 16s, mountain bike men, mountain bike women and finally the Under 14s.  The Under 14s had 3 laps of the main course to complete with all other categories having to complete 6 laps.  Claire Oakley (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) won the women's cyclo-cross race with Lisa Millar (Dromara CC) second and Mairead McGurk (Carn Wheelers) third.  Gill Smith suffered a puncture and retired from the race.  The Cyclo-cross B race was won by Richard Archer (East Tyrone CC) with Michael McMullan (North Down) second and Olan Byrne (Phoenix CC) third.  The Under 16s boys was won by Adam Duff (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) with Conal McKee second and Shea Kelly (Island Wheelers) third.  Sarah Elder (Carn Wheelers) won the closely fought girls race ahead of Ellie Kelso (East Tyrone) and Anna Russell (Carn Wheelers).

The MTB mens race had a large field of riders but Johnny Reid (Kinning Cycles) got clear early on and drove off from the front.  David McKee (Maryland Wheelers) was second with Simon Curry (Banbridge CC) third.  In the MTB women's race Trudy Brown took the win ahead of Kathryn Aiken (Banbridge CC) and Janice Hepburn (Island Wheelers).  The Under 14s was won by Caolan McKee with Ciaran Dixon (Phoenix CC) second and Ben Wilson (Dromara CC) third.  Emma Elder (Carn Wheelers) beat Niamh Skelly (Carn Wheeler) for the U14 girls race.

The final race of the day was for the Cyclo-cross mens A race.  With Irish Champion Roger Aiken sitting this round out, but down to support his fellow riders, the spotlight moved to Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles) as the pre-race favourite.  Glenn didn't disappoint as he stretched out a comfortable lead over the 7 lap race well ahead of Matthew Adair (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) with Darnell Moore (Caldwell Cycles) taking third.  Peter McConville (Newry Wheelers) was first unplaced veteran and Johnny McCabe (Cuchulainn CC) was first unplaced supervet (over 50).  The top juniors were James Curry (Banbridge CC), club mate Cameron McIntyre and Calvin Moore (Caldwell Cycles).

Many thanks to the crew from Apollo CT for setting up and running an excellent event.  The next round will be at Lady Dixon Park on Sunday 12 October hosted by Phoenix Cycling Club.

Commissaire: Martin Grimley

Updated results here
Full results to follow

Photos
Steven Lindsay (Google+) - here
David McVeigh (FlickR) - here
Richard Cowan (FlickR) - here,
Richard Cowan (Facebook) - here and here
Toby Watson (Facebook) - here and here