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Date: Sunday 4 October 2015
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 1
Location: Lurgan Park
Host club: Apollo CT

The 2015 Ulster Cyclo-cross series kicked off at Lurgan Park on Sunday 4 October 2015.  The park was looking fantastic in the bright, warm, autumn sunlight and was busiling with people from early morning.  The hardworking volunteers from Apollo Cycling Team were on site from 7 am setting up the course.  With so much dry weather lately the grass was very dry and very fast.  Definitely not the usual weather for cyclo-cross racing.  This year there had been rumours of lots more cyclo-cross bicycles having been purchased and a general buzz about the event which has been building up over the last few years.  Pre-registration managed to attract over 400 entries with just over 390 turning up on the day.  This would be a record for the Ulster series and bodes well for the rest of the season.

Dylan Lyness from the host club took on the role of event organiser.  The course layout was changed from previous years, firstly by removing the section that had traditionally gone around the tennis courts and secondly, changing the direction of the race - going anti-clockwise this time.  The course also included a spiral close to the finish line which must have been a curiousity for other park users.  As this was the first round, no gridding was applied, so the senior riders were all lined up in one long line and had to charge off across the grass and into the course proper.  This made for a great spectacle.

Sign on this year took place in the cricket pavilion with the first race of the day, for the Under 6s, kicking off at 10:30.  They had a short race which took in the spiral and then a race to the finish line.  There was a big line up of around 30 young riders, some on strider bikes, some with stablizers and some with a parent running behind to try to prevent any tumbles.

The Under 8s lined up at the start/finish line eager to get started on their 2 laps of the youth course.  The youth course went through the pits, into the trees behind the cricket pavilion, down the slope and into the spiral.  Rhys Hepburn (Island Wheelers) took the win in the boys race with Fionn McCloskey (Roe Valley CC) second and Cameron Henry third.  In the girls race Caitlin Hanna (Apollo CT) crossed the line first ahead of Beth Campbell (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) with Aisling Smyth (Apollo CT) third.

The Under 10s then lined up for their 4 laps of the youth course.  Reuben Maitland (Killincy CC) just pulled away from Oran Anderson (VC Glendale) with Jay Mackness (Team Madigan) completing the podium for the boys.  Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) finished 3rd overall and well clear of nearest rivals Cara Moffitt (Phoenix CC) and Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers).

The Under 12s were given 5 laps of the youth course for their race.  Island Wheelers riders Scott Roberts and Shane Scullion had a close battle for the top two spots but Scott crossed the line first.  Shea O'Kane (Phoenix CC) made his return to off-road racing with an impressive third.  Lily McGibbon (Trail Demons CC) had a great race finishing well clear of club mate Hannah Mullin with a great battle for third between Clodagh Doherty (VC Glendale) and Chloe Ferrity (Island Wheelers).

The next races all started at the end of the wide expanse of grass towards the lake.  In the front line were the Under 16s, behind them the Under 14s and behind them the mountain bike men's support race.  The Under 16s and MTB Support race had 5 laps to do with the Under 14s having 3 laps.  On the first whistle the Under 16s set off but not all got away clean with Drew Armstong (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) crashing heavily.  The Under 14s race start had to be directed around the winded rider who was eventually cleared in time for the MTB support race to get underway.  We wish Drew a speedy recovery.

Dean Harvey (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) took the win in the Under 14s race with Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers) second and Ciaran Dixon (Phoenix CC) third.  In the girls U14 race Maia Simons (North Down CC) returned to cyclo-cross and her winning ways with Sarah Elder and Katie Neill taking second and third respectively, both from Carn Wheelers.

In the Under 16s boys race, Thomas Creighton (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) had a close battle with JB Murphy (Murphy Surveys Kilcullen) with Thomas only crossing the line 3 seconds ahead of JB.  Craig McCarthy (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) took the final podium place.  In the Under 16s race Summer McGibbon (Trail Demons CC) stepped up well into this age group to take the win ahead of Emma Elder (Carn Wheelers) with Niamh McKiverigan (Powerhouse Sport) third.

The MTB men's support race seen a big group of almost 50 riders taking part.  Johnny McRoberts (Maryland Wheelers) crossed the line first ahead of Raymond Dunlop (Lakeland CC) with Johnny Reid (Kinning Cycles) back on the podium again for another year.

Next up were the cyclo-cross women's race, with the mountain bike support race for women lined up behind and then the cyclo-cross mens B' race.  A great turnout in these categories with 17 women in the CX line, 8 in the MTB females line and over 90 in the CX B race.  The women had a 2 minute start ahead of the CX B race men.  Beth McCluskey lead the women's race from start to finish and was well clear of nearst rival Claire Oakley (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) with Michelle Geoghegan (Napolean Games) third.  In the MTB women's race Trudy Brown (VC Glendale) was back on the top step of the podium with newcomer Evan Bartley (Lakeland CC) second and Anne Duffy (Cuchulainn CC) third.  In the Cyclo-cross men's B' race Jonnie Boyle (TC Racing) had a sprint finish with Paul McArthur (North Down CC) with just a second separating them. Andrew Patton (Kinning Cycles) completed the podium.  All 3 riders have been upgraded to the A' race for the remainder of the season.

The final race of the day was for the Cyclo-cross men's A' race.  This was held over 6 laps and had attracted a field of 70 riders.  Early leaders were Matthew Adair (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) and Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles) but as the race progressed Roger Aiken (Team Asea) came to the fore and then finally David Montgomery (ChainReaction Cycles), who managed to arrive late to the start line, took to the front of the race.  David managed to miss the chequered flag but happily fired around the course for a victory lap.  The podium finished Montgomery, Aiken and Kinning.  Matthew finished fourth.  Seán O'Tautail (Bray Wheelers) was 5th, Espoir rider James Curry (Banbridge CC) was 6th, Cameron McIntyre (Banbridge CC) was the first unplaced Junior and 7th overall, Junior rider Adam Duff (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) was 8th, Barry Kellett (Dromara CC) was 9th and Derek Finnegan (Keevan CC) completed the top 10.

The riders were then treated to a great spread of food in the cricket pavilion as they hung around chatting in the warm sunshine.  Many thanks to all the hard working team at Apollo CT for course set up, organisation, sign on and catering.  Top job folks.

Many thanks to Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon council for allowing the use of the park.  Also thanks to ChainReaction Cycles Flagship store in Belfast who are lead sponsors for the Ulster series.

Next week there is a non-league event taking place at Lady Dixon Park in Belfast.  Hosted by Phoenix CC it will have all the usual race categories apart from the mountain bike men's support race.  For more details see www.ulstercyclocross.com.

Commissaires: Martin Grimley, Maurice Mayne and Gary Sheils.

Report by Martin Grimley

Results here

Video
Belgium Project (YouTube) - here
Kinning Cycles (Facebook) - here
Apollo CT (Facebook) - here

Photos
Steven Lindsay (Facebook) - here
Paul Anderson (Facebook) - here
Richard Cowan (Facebook) - here
Caolan Hawkins (Facebook) - here, here, here and here
David McVeigh (FlickR) - here