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Report - Round 8 - 2016

Date: Sunday 27 November 2016
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 8
Location: The Jungle NI, Moneymore
Host club: Carn Wheelers

Round 8 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series was hosted by Carn Wheelers at a new venue of The Jungle NI, based just outside Moneymore.  This outdoor adventure site boasts activities like paint balling, zorbing, llama treking, clay pigeon shooting, tree top walks etc.  With a car park on the opposite side of the road and a tunnel to the site, there was lots of room for the large gathering of riders.  The event headquarters was inside the main building which has two floors, the bottom floor for used for registrations whereas the top floor had a café, sofas, large screen TV and the podium set up.  The start line for all race categories was beside the zorping run.  Race day was mild with a cool breeze and thankfully it stayed dry.

First up was the Under 6s race which was one loop around the llama enclosure past the glamping accommodation, up the hill and back to the start.  At the finish the 11 young riders received a bag of sweets for their effort.  Next up were the Under 8s.  They used the same course but had to complete 3 laps.  In the boys race there was no surprise when Rhys Hepburn (Island Wheelers) crossed the line first as he has won every race this season.  He was joined on the podium by the usual faces when Ethan Casey (Trail Demons CC) had another great second place and Jonathan Warnock (Shimna Wheelers) third.  In the girls race Emer Heverin (Castlereagh CC) had her 7th win of the series finishing ahead of series leader Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) with Emma Daly (Island Wheelers) completing the podium.

The Under 10s race was next and it attracted a field of 26 riders to complete 6 laps of the same course as the Under 8s.  Just like in the boys Under 8s race, there was no surprise in the girls Under 10s race when Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) crossed the line first.  Aisling Smyth (Apollo CT) was on the podium again in second place with Tori Moffitt (Phoenix CC) taking third.  In the boys race the podium was the same as Round 7 with Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) taking a clear win over Harry Hobbs (VC Glendale) with Calum Hepburn (Island Wheelers) finishing third.

The Under 12s had their own circuit which headed out of the main event field, past the deep ponds and up the hill before going through the pit area and then taking in the sweeping descent back to the finish line.  The 12 boys and 12 girls both had 4 laps to complete.  Shane Scullion (Island Wheelers) took the win ahead of club mate Adam Rafferty with Travis Harkness (Carn Wheelers) finishing third.  In the girls race Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) had her 7th win of the season with Hannah Mullin (Trail Demons CC) finishing strongly in second place and Keela Smyth (Apollo CT) rounding off the podium.

After the podiums for the youth races it was time for the B' race men and the mountain bike men's support race.  The riders lined up at the foot of the hill with the gridded riders hugging the right hand side as this was where the longer grass was and therefore more grip for the tyres.  At the whistle the riders shot off up the steep hill before cresting the top and sweeping round to the left along the off-camber, into a right hand sweep down past the start line and down onto the gravel lane.  It was a tight right hand turn onto the gravel path before a fast accelaration past the timing tent and out onto the main course.  The mountain bike men started one minute later.  The main course took in some of the features of the park including the hay bales obstacle area, a steep climb up the hill before passing more large ponds, the steep sweeping left hand descent past the tractor tyres, gravel path climb which lead onto a long fire road climb up to the trees.  Through the trees and then drop back down through the fields past the pit area and back to the main event field.  In the men's B race Kevin McKinney (Armagh City Cyclists) set an early lead and pulled away from the chasing pack.  Colm Quinn (Newry Wheelers CC) was his closest rival who had a good lead over Robbie Smyth (Apollo CT).  These top 3 are now obliged to ride the A' race for the remainder of the series.  In the MTB support race Calvin Moore (Caldwell Cycles Omagh) again proved his strength when he managed to charge past almost all of the cyclo-cross riders to finish 3rd overall.  Second place went to Dean Lockhart (Carn Wheelers) who finished around a minute ahead of Johnny Comac (Square Wheels CC).

Next up were the cyclo-cross women, MTB women, Under 16s and Under 14s.  In a slight change to the start order, the Under 16s boys went first but this time the Under 14 boys started just a few seconds later with the CX women starting one minute back.  The MTB women, U16 girls and U14 girls all started a few seconds after each other.  This kept the racing tight over the 5 laps.  This was the first cyclo-cross race of the season for Ciara Macmanus (Summit Mountainbiking) but she showed that she is still well capable as she took the win in the cyclo-cross women's race finishing ahead of the close rivals Trudy Brown (VC Glendale) and Gill Smith (Phoenix CC).  Lee Harvey (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) and Cathir Doyle (Carn Wheelers) kept swapping the lead in the Under 16 boys race but eventually Lee pulled away to take a comfortable win.

Drew Armstrong (Killinchy CC) completed the podium.  In the Under 16 girls race Méabh Flannagan (Ballymoney CC) was in the mix with the CX women as she finished well clear of her nearest rival Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers) with Niamh McKivergan (Powerhouse Sport) rounding off the podium.  In the women's mountain bike support race Angie Smyth (Apollo CT) took her 8th win of the series with Alison McMullan (North Down CC) finishing second and Andra Ungureanu (Dromara Cycling Club) third.  The Under 14s completed 3 laps with Odhran Doogan (Errigal Cycling Club) taking gold in the boys race, Adam McGeever (AAA Cycling Team) the silver and Somhairle Owens Fisher (Omagh Wheelers) bronze.  The girls podium had Katie Neill (Carn Wheelers) on the top step with Maria McAllister (Island Wheelers) second and Lauren Hanna (Apollo CT) third.

The final race of the day was the men's cyclo-cross A' race.  This turned out to be a 7 lap race.  All the big names had made the journey up to this event.  The riders had been watching the earlier races and those gridded early were hugging the right hand side of the start line for the climb.  At the whistle the riders took off at a terrific pace with Junior rider Craig McCarthy (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) leading the pack down the hill to head past the timing tent and out onto the main course.  At the end of lap 1 Roger Aiken (Team Asea) had pulled out a gap of 11 seconds on Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) with Darnell Moore (Caldwell Cycles Omagh) in 3rd place and David Montgomery (ChainReaction Cycles) in fourth.  Unfortunately David had a mechnical towards the end of lap 2 and had to retire.  Craig McCarthy had dropped back to 8th with Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles) 11th.  By the end of lap 2 Roger Aiken had shown that he was on a mission as he had built up a lead of 41 seconds on Barry.  Darnell Moore was still 3rd but Glenn Kinning had now got himself up to 4th.  By the end of lap 3 Roger was almost a minute and a half ahead of Barry.  Glenn Kinning had moved up to second place at the end of lap 4 but Roger was now 1 minute 47 seconds ahead of him.  At the end of lap 5 Glenn and Darnell were side by side with Roger over 2 minutes ahead.  The race came down to the battle for second place.  At the finish Roger was 2 minutes 47 seconds ahead, Glenn had got the gap on Darnell, Barry finished 4th, Jason Henry was 5th and the first unplaced M40 rider, Graham Boyd (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) was 6th.  First unplaced Junior was Thomas Creighton (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) who finished 11th, Des Woods (Newry Wheelers CC) was the first unplaced M50 rider on his last race before heading over to the World Masters Cyclo-cross championships.  The team prize went was a close battle between Carn Wheelers, Dromara Cycling Club and Island Wheelers with Richard Cowan securing the prize for Dromara as he finished ahead of Nigel Gibson (Carn Wheelers) and John Scott (Island Wheelers).

Once the races were over the riders headed to the main building for hot food, tea, coffee.  The prize giving was then conducted.  Many thanks to Joe McCrory and his team at Carn Wheelers for hosting this round.  Many thanks to the management at Jungle NI for allowing us to use their site and to the staff who provided a warm welcome and assistance throughout the day.  Hopefully we will be back to this excellent venue.

Commissaires: Martin Grimley, Lisa Millar

Report by Martin Grimley

Results here

Photos

Belgium project (FlickR) - here
Toby Watson (Facebook) - here, here, here, here, here and here
Richard Cowan (Facebook) - here
Sean McIntyre (Facebook) - here
Jim Halferty (Facebook) - here