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Report - Round 2 - 2016

Date: Sunday 2 October 2016
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 2
Location: Falls Park, Belfast 
Host club: VC Glendale

The second round of the 2016 Ulster Cyclo-cross series took place at Falls Park in Belfast.  The is the third year that VC Glendale has hosted an event at this venue but the first time that it has been run in October.  A big thank you to Belfast City Council for permission to use the park and to the park wardens for their assistance on the day and in the lead up to the event.  All race categories used the main tarmac path as their start and finish area.  The youth races (Under 6s up to Under 12s) used their own section of the park which allowed the other riders to practice on the main circuit.

As in previous years the park was full of banners from sponsors and, of course, Belgian flags with Dany Blondell and his Belgium project in attendance.  Sign on was in the pavilion which also has shower facilities and a great kitchen and dining area.  The day was bright and sunny with just a nip of cold when standing out of the sunlight but hardly a breath of wind.

Racing got underway around 10:15 with the Under 6s with 21 eager riders lined up.  The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Brian Kingston, was present to start the race which was two short laps.  This is a fun race to get riders accustomed to riding in a group with lots of people cheering.  All the riders got a goodie bag with sponsored items afterwards.

The Under 8s gathered up to be gridded from last week's event before they began the two lap race of their course.  The Lord Mayor blew the whistle to get them started.  Out of the 19 boys Rhys Hepburn (Island Wheelers) took the win with Ethan Casey (Trail Demons CC) second and Evan Tosh third.  In the girls race Emer Heverin (Castlereagh CC) crossed the line first with Aoife Craig from the host club second and Poppy Magee (Trail Demons CC) third.

Next up were the Under 10s who had to complete 4 laps of the same course as the Under 8s.  This race had 24 boys and 10 girls with separate starting whistles.  Calum Hepburn (Island Wheelers) finished first ahead of Thomas McAlinden (Apollo CT) and Harry Hobbs (VC Glendale).  Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) continued her usual dominance in the girls race to finish well ahead of Aisling Smyth and Sarah Sloan, both from Apollo CT.

The Under 12s course had an additional extension to the Under 8/10s course, taking them further away from the start/finish area.  The 18 boys and 13 girls had to complete 5 laps of the course.  Time wise, this turned out to be a shorter race than they would normally do, but this was due, in no small part, to the great conditions in the park with all courses very dry and fast this year.  As per last year, the boys podium was filled with riders from the Island Wheelers club, with Adam Rafferty taking gold, Shane Scullion taking silver and Oisin Ferrity taking bronze.  In the girls race Aine Doherty, from the host club, had won the Under 10s race last year, and repeated that success with a win in the Under 12s race this year.  Hannah Mullin (Trail Demons CC) finished second with Keela Smyth (Apollo CT) third.

There was a short break in the racing schedule to allow for the prize giving ceremony for the Under 8s, 10s and 12s.  This time slot also allowed the riders for the next races to practice the course.

At noon the Cyclo-cross mens' B' race and the men's mountain bike support race got underway.  The 87 riders in the B race and 23 in the MTB race were first gridded at the bottom of the tarmac lane with the cyclo-cross riders going first then the mountain bike support riders going 2 minutes later.

Before the whistle was blown there was a minute silence in memory of Richie Byrne, a significant figure in the world of Irish off-road cycling, who had died on Thursday morning after a long battle with cancer.  Richie was based in Dublin but was involved in all aspects of off-road cycling across the whole of the Island of Ireland for well over 25 years.

The race length for the cyclo-cross B' race riders and mountain bikers was between 40 and 50 minutes.  For this course, this turned out to be about 6 laps for most of the riders.  Alan Bingham (Cuchulainn CC) was dipping his toe into the world of cyclo-cross racing, but his racing pedigree of road and other off-road racing served him well as the set some very fast times around the course to take the win.  Garry Rainey (East Tyrone CC) finished second with Ross Galway (Killinchy CC) third.  All three riders are then compelled to race in the A' race for the remainder of the season.  In the mountain bike support race, Dean Lockhart (Carn Wheelers) took the win ahead of Sean Lyness (Apollo CT) with Oleksii Kolbasko (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) taking the third step on the podium.

Next up were the Cyclo-cross women, mountain bike women, Under 16s and Under 14s.  They were gridded with the Under 16 boys going first, followed one minute later by the Under 14 boys with the rest going one minute later.  The women were set up in their race categories, Cyclo-cross women at the front, followed by mountain bike support women, then Under 16 girls then Under 14 girls.  Unfortunately there was a clash of handlebars shortly after the start with Niamh McKiverigan (Powerhouse Sport) crashing hard and not able to continue.

Trudy Brown, from the host club, took the win in the Women's Cyclo-cross race finishing ahead of Claire McIlwaine (Phoenix CC) with Emma Casey (Trail Demons CC) third.  First unplaced junior woman was Emma Elder (Carn Wheelers).  In the women's mountain bike support race, Angie Smyth (Apollo CT) finished first ahead of Rachel Irvine (Powerhouse Sport) with Wannita Broome (Dromara CC) third.  Lee Harvey (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) took the win in the boys Under 16s race with Drew Armstrong (Killinchy CC) second and Ben Wilson (Dromara CC) third.  In the Under 16 girls race Meabh Flannagan (Ballymoney CC) finished first with Ellie Kelso (East Tyrone CC) second and Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers) third.  In the Under 14 boys race Dean Harvey (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) just finished ahead of close rival Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers) with Ryan Skelly (Carn Wheelers) third.  In the Under 14 girls race Caoimhe May (Scott Orwell Wheelers) finished well ahead of Maia Simmons (North Down CC) with Maria McAllister (Island Wheelers) third.

The final race of the day was for the cyclo-cross A' race men who had to complete 7 laps of the course.  Again there was a minute silence for Richie Byrne before the whistle was blown.  Leading from the start was the in-form Roger Aiken (Team Asea) who was setting some blisteringly quick lap times to pull away from his nearest rivals.  Graham Boyd (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) finised second with Barry Kellett (Dromara CC) third.  All three riders having been on the podium at Round 1.  Darnell Moore (Caldwell Cycles) finished fourth overall but was the first unplaced Espoir rider.  Conor Campbell (Newry Wheelers) was fifth with Peter McConville, also from the Newry club, finishing sixth, the first unplaced M50 rider.  Finishing 7th overall was the Race Director Brendan Doherty who also took the unplaced M40 rider award.  As per Round 1, the first unplaced Junior was Craig McCarthy (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) and the team prize went to Newry Wheelers when Conor, Peter and then Des Woods crossed the line.

The podium ceremony then took place with Roger receiving the Teresa Smyth Memorial Cup.  After the races the riders could use the showers before heading in to the main hall of the pavilion where there was hot soup, tea & coffee and a large spread of sandwiches.

A big thank you to all the volunteers from VC Glendale who contributed to the hosting of this event.

Round 3 takes place on Sunday 16 October at Lady Dixon Park in Belfast, hosted by Phoenix CC.  For more details see www.ulstercyclocross.com.

Commissaires: Martin Grimley, Lisa Millar

Report by Martin Grimley

Results here

Photos

Belgium Project (FlickR) - here
Bronagh Kirk (own website) - here
Steven Lindsay (Facebook) - here
Richard Cowan (FlickR) - here, here and here