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Report - Round 3 - 2016

Date: Sunday 16 October 2016
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 3
Location: Lady Dixon Park, Belfast 
Host club: Phoenix CC

Round 3 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross Series 2016 took place on Sunday 16 October at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in Belfast.  Hosted by Phoenix Cycling Club this is the sixth year that the club has run a CX race at this venue.  Many thanks to Belfast City Council for supporting the event.  With a big pre-enter for this round the car parks were expected to get full very quickly.  There had been heavy rain on the Saturday night which eased off by early morning allowing the volunteers to get the course set up.  Just before the sign on opened the heavy rain returned and was prolonged enough to create puddles and mud everywhere.  The sign on tent was under pressure with those inside having to move tables around to avoid the drips.  Before the first rider signed on there were puddles inside the tent!

Cornering while walking or cycling was difficult after the rain.  However, this is cyclo-cross racing and mud is to be expected.  Welly boots recommended!

The rain eased off before the start of the youth races with the Under 6s kicking off the day at 10:15.  A great turn out of 18 young riders who completed one lap of the muddy course and then headed off for some sweet treats.  Next up were the Under 8s who were patiently waiting off to the side of the course.  They were gridded based on the current Ulster league standings.  They had to complete 3 laps of their course.  Rhys Hepburn (Island Wheelers) continued his dominant form by crossing the line well ahead of his nearest rival Ethan Casey (Trail Demons CC) and Jamie Rockett (Ards CC) who finished second and third respectively.  Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) was the first girl across the line ahead of Emer Heverin (Castlereagh CC) and Emma Daly (Island Wheelers).

The Under 10s course took in the Under 8s course but also crossed the tarmac road to the section of track on the far side.  The riders had to complete 4 laps.  The boys race had a very close finish with Harry Hobbs (VC Glendale) just finishing ahead of Calum Hepburn (Island Wheelers).  Thomas McAlinden (Apollo CT) took the bronze medal.  In the girls race Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) continued to impress as she finished 5th overall well ahead of her closest rivals Sarah Sloan and Aisling Smyth, both from Apollo Cycling Team.

The Under 12s used the same course as the Under 10s but they had 6 laps to complete.  It was an Island Wheelers one-two in the boys race with Adam Rafferty taking gold and Oisin Ferrity taking the silver.  Travis Harkness (Carn Wheelers) completed the podium.  Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) had another strong ride as she finished 4th overall, first girl.  Hannah Mullin (Trail Demons CC) was the strongest of the chasing pack taking silver with Keela Smyth (Apollo CT) taking bronze.

There was a break in the racing which allowed for the prize giving for the Under 8s, 10s and 12s as well as allowing practice time on the main course.  At noon the Cyclo-cross B' race men and mens mountain bike support race were gridded and lined up.  They had to complete 4 laps of the main course with the mtb support racers starting two minutes behind the cx riders.  There were 86 riders in the B' race with 15 mtb riders.  It was quite a day for birthday boy Gerard Craig (VC Glendale) who took the win in the CX B' race and having his two club mates fill the podium with Chris Lawlor and Sean Maguire taking second and third respectively.  All three riders are now obliged to ride the A' race for the rest of the season.  In the mountain bike support race Dean Lockhart (Carn Wheelers) took his second win of the series as he finished ahead of Michael Nelson and Sean Lyness, both riders from Apollo CT.

Next up were the Cyclo-cross women, women's mountain bike support riders, Under 16s and Under 14s.  The Under 14s had to complete 3 laps while the rest had to complete 4 laps.  Lined up first were the Under 16 boys with the Under 14 boys going one minute later.  The Cyclo-cross women were then gridded and lined up with the MTB women behind them, the Under 16 girls and then the Under 14 girls.  The starting whisle was sounded for each of the categories in rapid succession.  In the Women's Cyclo-cross race Beth McCluskey (Scott Orwell Wheelers) took the chequered flag, her second of the weekend as she had also won at the Fixx Series Round 2 in Kilternan the night before.  Chasing Beth was Gill Smith from the host club with Michelle Geoghegan (DTC Orwell Wheelers) taking third out of the 18 starters.  In the women's mountain bike support race Angie Smyth (Apollo CT) completed her hat-trick of wins in the Ulster series with Nicola Nelson (Apollo CT) taking second and Rachel Irvine (Powerhouse Sport) taking third.  In the Under 16 boys race Lee Harvey (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) took his third win out of three as he finished ahead of Drew Armstrong (Killinchy CC) with Jake Rushby (North Down) taking third.  In the U16 girls race Clodagh Gallagher (AAA Cycling Team) crossed the line ahead of Niamh McKiverigan (Powerhouse Sport) with Ellie Kelso (East Tyrone CC) taking the final slot on the podium.  In the Under 14 boys race Island Wheelers star rider Darren Rafferty had an easier time at this race with his closest rival Dean Harvey not racing.  Darren powered around the course finishing well ahead of Ryan Skelly (Carn Wheelers) and Adam McGeever (AAA Cycling Team).  In the girls U14 race Katie Neill (Carn Wheelers) took the gold ahead of Maria McAllister (Island Wheelers) with Lauren Hanna (Apollo CT) taking bronze.

The Cyclo-cross Men's A' race was the final event of the day and had attracted 80 riders from across Ireland.  The course, by this stage, was well churned up.  After the initial rain in the morning the day had remained dry but the mud had started to become very sticky.  The pit crews were kept very busy cleaning and preparing bikes for the riders.  As expected Roger Aiken (Team Asea) took the early lead and kep the pressure on the chasing riders.  Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles) was the strongest of the chasers, despite racing the night before in Kilternan, he managed to keep ahead of Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club).  Finishing fourth was Graham Boyd (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) with the first Espoir (Under 23) rider Darnell Moore (Caldwell Cycles) finishing fifth.  In form Dominic McCartan (Apollo CT) was sixth with the first unplaced M40 rider Brendan Doherty (VC Glendale) 7th.  Making his return to cyclo-cross racing at this round, Christopher McGlinchey (ChainReaction Cycles) showed that he was still a mayor contender as he finished 8th.  First unplaced M50 rider was Des Woods (Newry Wheelers) who finished 11th overall.  For the third race in a row Newry Wheelers won the team prize when Peter McConville and Conor Campbell crossed the line.

The podium ceremonies then took place.  Riders and supporters were able to enjoy the huge spread of food and hot drinks that the catering team had provided.

A big thank you to John Bogues and Stephen Moffitt as well as all the volunteers from Phoenix CC who contributed to the hosting of this event.

Round 4 takes place on Sunday 30 October at St. Colomb's Park in Londonderry, hosted by Foyle CC.  For more details see www.ulstercyclocross.com.
Next Sunday is Round 2 of the Kinning Cycles series which takes place at the Ice Bowl in Dundonald.

Commissaires: Martin Grimley, Lisa Millar

Report by Martin Grimley

Results here

Photos

Belgium Project (FlickR) - here
Steven Lindsay (Facebook) - here, here and here
Richard Cowan (Facebook) - here and here
Toby Watson (Facebook) - here, here and here