Ulster Cyclo-Cross


Ulster XC Series


All Ireland CX 2017


Date: Sunday 25 September 2016
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 1
Location: Lurgan Park
Host club: Apollo CT

It was back to Lurgan Park for the start of another season of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series.  The morning started with bright, warm, autumn sunshine but the grass areas were wet after the heavy rain on Saturday.  This year the sign on returned to the bowling pavilion with the youth races (Under 6s ,8s, 10s and 12s) all starting and finishing around the pavilion and tennis courts.  The afternoon races were put back one hour to accommodate a 10k running race which was also happening in the park.

The cyclo-cross race categories are dependent upon the age that the rider will be on the 1st January 2017.  This meant that, for example, the second year Under 10s were now competing in the Under 12s race.  This "upgrade" affected all catgories of youth as well as the age categories of the senior A race.

First up were the Under 6s with 19 eager faces lined up for a short race which took in half lap of the Under 8s circuit.  All finishers received a packet of sweets for their efforts - sadly none for the parents who were running alongside!

Next up was the Under 8s with a scramble to get the best position on the line.  The boys were started on the first whistle, the girls on the second whistle.  They had 2 laps to complete.  Emer Heverin (Castlereagh CC) took the win in the girls race with Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) second and Poppy Magee (Trail Demons) third.  Rhys Hepburn (Island Wheelers) took the win in the boys race ahead of Elliott Maitland (Killinchy CC) and Ethan Casey (Trail Demons CC).

The Under 10s had 4 laps to complete and this race saw the biggest field of the youth riders with 42 lined up, 29 boys and 13 girls.  Crossing the line to take the chequered flag was Thomas McAlinden (Apollo CT) with Harry Hobbs (VC Glendale) second and Calum Hepburn (Island Wheelers) third.  In the girls race Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) chalked up another win finishing well ahead of Aisling Smith (Apollo CT) with Tori Moffitt (Phoenix CC) completing the podium.

The course for the Under 12s was longer and they had more laps to do - 6 in total.  Turn out was again good with 32 lined up.  Leading from the start and for every lap was Travis Harkness (Carn Wheelers) who finished ahead of Adam Rafferty (Island Wheelers) with Shane Scullion (Island Wheelers) taking third.  Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) continued to dominate in  the girls' race taking a comfortable win ahead of Keela Smyth (Apollo CT) with Hannah Mullin (Trail Demons CC) in third.

Prize giving took place in the extended interval between races which also gave the volunteers a chance to sit down.

The next races all started down on the wide grass area in front of the Waves Leisure Centre.  First up were the Cyclo-cross B' race men with the mountain bike support riders (male) lined up behind to start one minute later.  The MTB support race (males) is limited this season to just 25 riders and was the first category to "sell out" when pre-entry opened.  91 riders were in the CX B' race and they had to complete 5 laps.  During their race the heavens opened and we received the first of three heavy downpours of rain.  This affected the condition of the course making the laps longer.  Gareth Blair (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) and John Scott (Island Wheelers) exchanged the lead in the CX B race with Gareth pulling away towards the end to take the win.  The third place race was between Christopher McCann (Banbridge CC) and Colm Watson (VC Glendale) with Christopher taking the third step on the podium.  The top 3 riders have to then ride the Cyclo-cross A' race for the rest of the season.  In the mountain bike support race Scott Maitland (Killinchy CC) demonstrated his fitness from the cross-country season by almost catching all the cyclo-cross riders.  Cathal Hendron (Apollo CT) took second ahead of Dean Lockhart (Carn Wheelers).

Next up were the Under 16s, Under 14s and women.  The Under 16 boys were in the first row, the Under 14 boys in the next row, the 12 cyclo-cross women were behind them, then the women's mountain bike support race riders, then the Under 16 girls and finally the Under 14 girls.  There was a gap of one minute between the U16s and U14s and then a further one minute gap before all the women (28 in total) started on the one whistle.  The Under 14s completed two laps while the others completed 4.  This season the Under 14s and 16s are wearing shoulder numbers rather than race plates so they would be racing under cyclo-cross rules and be allowed to have bike changes.  In the CX women's race Trudy Brown (VC Glendale) was well out in front when she suffered a mechanical and had to retire.  Gill Smith (Phoenix CC), who was chasing hard after Trudy, then took the win with Martina Hawkins (Shimna Wheelers) second and Alwynne Shannon (Newry Wheelers) third.  Lee Harvey (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) put on a dominant display to take the win in the Under 16s race finishing well ahead of Ciaran Dixon (Phoenix CC) with Ethan Layhe (Trail Demons CC) third.  In the girls Under 16s race Niamh McKiverigan (Powerhouse Sport) also put on a dominant display to take the win well ahead of Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers) who beat fellow club mate Sarah Elder.  In the Under 14s boys race Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers) pulled away from Dean Harvey (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) on the second lap to take the win with third place going to Ryan Skelly (Carn Wheelers).  In the girls U14 race Katie Neill (Carn Wheelers) took the gold medal ahead of Maia Simons (North Down CC) with Lauren Hanna (Apollo CT) taking bronze.  In the MTB support race Angie Smith from the host club had a popular win ahead of Alison McMullan (North Down CC) with Nicola Nelson, also from the host club, taking third.

The final race of the day started at 3:15 with 62 riders lined up in one long line ahead of the start of the Cyclo-cross A' race.  On the whistle they charged forward, past the timekeepers gazebo and out into the course.  By this stage in the day the course  had been well churned up and even the top riders were struggling to get round in less than 10 minutes per lap.  Leading from the first lap was the National Cyclo-cross champion Roger Aiken (Team Asea) with Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles) lying second place until the final lap when he dropped out of podium positions due to a mechanical.  Coming through to take second place was Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) who had to work hard to stay ahead of Graham Boyd (Xmtb McConvey Cycles).  Brendan Doherty (VC Glendale) was 4th, first unplaced M40.  The first unplaced M50 rider was Peter McConville (Newry Wheelers), first unplaced Espoir (Under 23) rider was Peter Davison (Dromara Cycling Club) who finished just ahead of the first Junior rider Craig McCarthy (Xmtb McConvey Cycles).  The team prize went to Newry Wheelers when Peter, Conor Campbell and Gary Sheils crossed the line.

The riders were then treated to a great spread of food in the bowling pavilion.  Many thanks to all the hard working volunteers at Apollo CT for course set up, organisation, sign on and catering.  Also, a big thanks to Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon council for allowing the use of the park and to the park wardens for all their help.

Round 2 takes place next Sunday at Falls Park in Belfast, hosted by VC Glendale.  For more details see www.ulstercyclocross.com.

Commissaires: Martin Grimley, Lisa Millar

Report by Martin Grimley

Results here


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