Ulster Cyclo-Cross

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Date: Sunday 23 November 2014
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 8
Location: Falls Park, Belfast
Host club: VC Glendale

The eighth and final round of the 2014 Ulster Cyclo-cross series took place at the new venue of Falls Park in Belfast on Sunday 23 November.  Known as the "Gp of the Falling Leaves CX", local club VC Glendale took the plunge with this being their first open event they have organised.  The park itself has a great pavilion for sign on, with changing rooms and showers as well as a bike wash laid on.  The club wish to thank Belfast City Council for the use of the park and for the park wardens who were on site all day helping with the logistics.  Race day started off cold but with bright blue skies and hardly a cloud to be seen.  There had been a lot of rain in the lead up to the race and the grass areas were still full of water.

The course was designed by Brendan Doherty and made great use of the different levels of the park.  All races started on the tarmac path near the entrance.  The youth race courses (for Under 6s up to Under 12s) were located on the left of the tarmac lane among the trees with four different course lengths for the four different age categories all finishing again on the tarmac path.  The other race categories set off towards the pavilion, past the pit area, around the hedges across the bridge and out into the open grass section.  Here the riders had a short sand obstacle before heading up onto the grass where there was a set of steps to negociate.  The grass was muddy with limited grip and traction.  The course then headed up towards a steep grass bank which only the superhuman were able to ride up.  Once up to the top of the ridge the course then traversed back down the 30o slope which proved to be a photographers delight as riders slipped and slid down the muddy bank.  Back up another muddy slope to the top of the ridge where riders could remount and set off along the ridge towards the fast downhill section.  More mud followed before crossing back over another bridge to the main park again.  There was a great section along the tree line with riders able to pick up some speed before the final climb and muddy section back to the tarmac path.  The course had separate sections for the mountain bike support race and the cyclocross races. 

The day started with the Under 6s race which seen almost 20 young riders line up for 2 laps of a short course around the timing tent.  Ben Shaw (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) was the first to finish with Odhran Ferrity (Island Wheelers) second and Darragh McCloskey (Roe Valley CC) third.  Next up were the Under 8s with 11 boys and 9 girls gridded onto the start line for their 3 lap race.  League leader Harry Hobbs (VC Glendale) took the win ahead of his main rival Calum Hepburn (Island Wheelers) with Curtis McKee (Maryland Wheelers) in third place.  These 3 have dominated this age category all season.  In the girls race Aliyah Rafferty (island Wheelers) made this her 7th win out of 7 starts.  Luighseach Murnaghan made it onto the podium again to take second place with Lila McCann (Phoenix CC) finishing third.

The Under 10s had to complete 4 laps of a slightly longer track to the Under 8s.  There were 10 boys and 10 girls on the start line and it was an Island Wheelers clean sweep in the boys race with Adam Rafferty first, Oisin Ferrity second and Shane Scullion third.  In the girls race it was a clean sweep for VC Glendale with Aine Doherty taking the win, Clodagh Doherty second and Sophie Osbourne third.

There was a big turn out in the Under 12s with 16 boys and 13 girls racing over 6 laps of the longest youth course.  Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers) was back to showing off his brilliance with a clear win finishing almost a minute and a half ahead of his fellow club mate Scott Roberts who was in a close race with Shea O'Kane (Phoenix CC).  In the girls race the usual trio were fighting it out for top positions with Maia Simmons (North Down) taking the win ahead of Cara McKee (VC Glendale) with cousin Ciara McKee (VC Glendale) third.

Next up were the Under 14s, Under 16s and mountain bike support races for males and females.  The Under 14s had to complete 2 laps with the other categories completing 4 laps.  The course that they used avoided some of the sections used in the main cyclo-cross race.  The Under 16s started first, one minute ahead of the MTB men.  Adam Duff (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) took off early on and was never threatened finishing over 30 seconds ahead of Thomas Creighton, also from Xmtb, who was 40 seconds clear of Xeno Young.  There was only one female entry in the Under 16s category, Emma Elder (Carn Wheelers) who completed 3 laps in just over 32 minutes.  In the Under 14s boys race, Caolan McKee took his 6th win out of 8 appearances finishing ahead of Ben Wilson (Dromara Cycling Club) with Ciaran Dixon (Phoenix CC) finishing third.  In the girls U14 race there was a familiar podium line up with Sarah Elder (Carn Wheelers) finished ahead of Ellie Kelso (East Tyrone CC) with Summer McGibbon (Apollo CT) third.  In the mens' mountain bike support race, Sean Bradley (Carn Wheelers) got his fourth win in a row finishing well clear of the battle for second place between Dominic McCartan (Apollo CT) and Nathan Sturrock (Banbridge CC) with Dominic taking the win by a mere 3 seconds.  In the womens' MTB race Trudy Brown (VC Glendale) got her 7th win out of 7 starts.  Ruth Aiken (Banbridge CC) was second with Alison McMullan (North Down CC) third.

The first of the cyclocross races took place around 12:30 with the Cyclo-cross females setting off one minute ahead of the Cyclo-cross B' race males.  Both categories had to cover 5 laps of the full course which, after the mountain bikes had been racing on it, was cutting up and becoming more muddy and challenging.  Claire Oakley (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) has remained unbeaten in the series with this her 7th win out of 7 appearances.  Val O'Neill (Phoenix CC) had only managed one previous finish this season but improved on her third place to take second at this event.  Hannah Ormesher (DID Electricial Racing Team) was back on the podium again for the 6th time in as many races taking third.  In the men's B' race Aaron Parks finished first after a tight race with Garth Young (Dromore CC) and Keith Hooks (North Down CC) who finished second and third respectively.

The final race of the day was the men's A' race which saw 56 riders line up for the 7 lap race.  There was some tight racing in the top 10 especially among Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles) and Darnell Moore (Caldwell Cycles).  Glenn pulled away from Darnell on lap 3 and never looked back.  Ray O'Shaughnessey (Cuchulainn CC) overtook Darnell to take second place by less than 10 seconds with Darnell settling for third.  Sean O'Tuathail (Bray Wheelers) was fourth with first unplaced Espoir rider Matthew Adair (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) fifth and Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) making the top six.  James Curry (Banbridge CC) was the first junior rider finishing 7th overall, with Aiden McDonald (Cuchulainn CC) the first unplaced veteran and fellow club mate Johnny McCabe the first unplaced supervet (50+).  Course organiser Brendan Doherty finished a respectable 11th having been up in the top 5 earlier on in the race.

After the races the riders headed back into the hall where there was a great selection of food on offer thanks to the hardworking volunteers in the kitchen.  Bike wash was available outside and showers down below.  The prize giving then got underway with Glenn being presented with the newly purchased Teresa Smyth Memorial Cup presented by Michelle Smyth.  The raffle prize then took place with a very nice (expensive!) helmet being put up by McConvey Cycles.  This was won by Conal McKee. 

A hearty congratulations to the volunteers from VC Glendale for putting on a great event.  A marvellous job for their first event.  That concludes the 2014 Ulster Cyclo-cross series.  The next event will be the Ulster Cyclo-cross championships which will be held at Drum Manor Forest outside Cookstown by Carn Wheelers on 14 December 2014.  More details on www.ulstercyclocross.com.

Results here (ver 2)

Commissaire - Martin Grimley

Report by Martin Grimley

Cycling Ulster report here

Photos
Steven Lindsay (Google+) - here
Eric Blayney (FlickR) - here
Marian Lamb (Cycling Ulster website) - here
Toby Watson (Facebook) -  here, here, here, here, here and here
Brendan Monaghan (Facebook) - here and here
Bronagh Kirk (own website) -  to follow

Videos
Paul McAuley (YouTube) - Juniors here, Seniors here
Kinning Cycles (YouTube) - here