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Report - Round 9 - 2016

Date: Sunday 4 December 2016
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 9
Location: Donard Park, Newcastle
Host club: Shimna Wheelers

Shimna Wheelers expressed an interest in hosting a round of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series this year.  They took on Round 9 of the series and held it in the stunning venue of Donard Park in Newcastle with the looming Mourne Mountains as the backdrop.  The weather was mild and the ground was fast, firm and dry.  Very unusual conditions for a race taking place in the first week of December.  Sign on took place in O'Hare's pub with amble parking in the main public car park outside.  The race itself took place in the main green spaces just beyond the car park, making great use of the rising nature of the grass areas.  The main finish line was beside the gravel path near the football pitch and from this flat area the spectators had a great view of the whole course.  The youth courses were based in the first field which was flat and only had the short climb up into the trees.  The main races incorporated the youth course but also included a set of steps within the trees, great use of the largest field with its long straights and sweeping corners and then out onto the tarmac road to take in the highest placed field which lies close to the entrance of the local YMCA.  The 'top field' had some very twisty sections which involved lots of short sharp sprints.  The exit from the top field was over a round log, back onto the tarmac road and then diving back into the trees.

The Under 6s had 9 young competitors who had just one lap to complete.  The climb up into the woods was tricky for this age group but all made it back safely, rewarded with a goodie bag.  Next up were the Under 8s.  Their course took in the Under 6s course but then headed back into the trees towards the youth dismount section and back round past the spectators and through the finish line.  They had 3 laps to complete.  In the girls race Emer Heverin (Castlereagh CC) had her 7th win of the series with Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) finishing second and Poppy Magee (Trail Demons CC) third.  In the boys race Ethan Casey (Trail Demons CC) made it to the top step of the podium with Jonathan Warnock (Shimna Wheelers) second and Jamie Rockett (Ards CC) third.

The Under 10s used the same course as the Under 8s but had twice the number of laps to complete.  There was a pile up shortly after the start of the boys race which held up the girls who were following just a few seconds behind the boys.  Harry Hobbs (VC Glendale) had been beaten by Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) on the last 2 rounds but was out to reestablish his dominance and took the win with Conor second and Fionn McCloskey (Roe Valley CC) coming in third.  Tori Moffitt (Phoenix CC) took gold in the U10 girls race with Aisling Smyth and Caitlin Hanna, both with Apollo CT, taking second and third respectively.

The Under 12s course took in the Under 10s course but then headed out past the main finish line, through the gate, sharp right and up the grass hill to the trees, through a narrow pedestrian entrance and back into the trees again.  They had 4½ laps to complete and this included heading through the sand pit.  In the girls race Áine Doherty (VC Glendale) had another impressive win finishing fourth overall.  Hannah Mullin (Trail Demons CC) battled hard as usual to take second with Keela Smyth (Apollo CT) back on the podium again in third place.  In the U12 boys race the lads from Island Wheelers were having their usual close battle with Shane Scullion getting the better of Oisin Ferrity.  Travis Harkness (Carn Wheelers) took third.

After a short break, when the podiums presentations for the Under 8s, 10s and 12s took place, it was back to the racing, this time with the Mens Cyclo-cross B' race and Mens Mountain Bike support race.  The start was beside the football pitch which meant a long run toward the gate where the riders turned left on the first lap, past the finish line.  The riders had to complete 5 laps.  In the cyclo-cross B' race Glyn O'Brien (ChainReaction Cycles) took the early lead and went on to cross the line first.  He was, however, disqualified for riding a non-cyclo-cross specific bike.  Liam Dolan (Cuchulainn CC) was awarded the win. Nathan McComb (ChainReaction Cycles), known for his enduro racing results and bike handling skills, was competing in his first CX race this season and finished an impressive second place.  Adam Cunningham (Velo Club Mourne) was third.  In the mountain bike support race John Scott (Island Wheelers) finished well clear of the race for second place which was a close one between Dean Lockhart and Nigel Gibson, both from Carn Wheelers, with Dean getting the better of Nigel.

Next to race were the Cyclo-cross women, women's mountain bike support race, Under 16s and Under 14s.  The Under 14s had 3 laps to complete while the rest had 5 laps.  The Under 16 boys set off first with the Under 14 boys a few seconds later.  The women started one minute later in the order of CX women, MTB women, U16 women and U14 women.  The the women's CX race Irish champion Beth McCluskey (Scott Orwell Wheelers) put on another fine display of racing to finish well clear of Michelle Geoghegan (DTC Orwell Wheelers) with Gill Smith (Phoenix CC) finishing third.  In the women's MTB support race Alison McMullan (North Down CC) took the win ahead of newcomer to the series Bronagh McInerney (Shimna Wheelers) with Debbie Boyd (Apollo CT) finishing third.  Drew Armstrong (Killinchy CC) took the win in the Under 16s race with Jake Rushby (North Down CC) second and Ciaran Dixon (Phoenix CC) third.  In the U16 girls race Niamh McKiverigan (Powerhouse Sport) took the win as she finished ahead of Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers) with Sarah Elder (Carn Wheelers) just pipping Summer McGibbon (Trail Demons CC) to take third place.  Ryan Skelly (Carn Wheelers) took his second win of the series in the U14 boys race with Somhairle Owens Fisher (Omagh Wheelers) second and Odhran Doogan (Errigal Cycling Club) third.  Maria McAllister (Island Wheelers) took her first win of the series when she crossed the line ahead of Katie Neill (Carn Wheelers) with Lily McGibbon (Trail Demons CC) third.

The last race of the day was for the mens Cyclo-cross A' race.  This was held over 7 laps. As per the last round, Roger Aiken (Team Asea) set off very quickly from the start and had pulled out a 20 second lead over Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) at the end of the first lap.  Roger continued to pull away from the field, increasing his lead by around 30 seconds each lap to finish the race 3 minutes 16 seconds ahead of Barry.  This despite a big crash on the sand in front of the cameras!  Barry had a closer race with Graham Boyd (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) and Gareth McKee (Banbridge CC) just behind keeping him motivated.  This is how the top four finished.  Crossing the line in 5th place was the first unplaced Junior rider John Buller (Banbridge CC).  The first unplaced M40 rider was Brendan Doherty (VC Glendale) who finished 6th.  The first unplaced M50 rider was Peter McConville (Newry Wheelers CC) and the first unplaced Espoir was Peter Davison (Dromara Cycling Club).  Newry Wheelers took the team prize when Gary Sheils and Sean Featherstone crossed the line.  Sean had a great battle with David Broome (Dromara Cycling Club) to give Newry Wheelers the win.

A big thanks to Shimna Wheelers for putting on a super event.  Thanks also to the volunteers from other clubs who came along to provide assistance and to the many sponsors that the club had attracted for this event.  Thanks to the Newry, Mourne and Down Council for the use of the park and to O'Hare's pub for registration.

The 10th and final round of the series will take place next Sunday at Castle Park in Bangor.  See www.ulstercyclocross.com for details.

Commissaires: Martin Grimley, Lisa Millar

Report by Martin Grimley

Results here

Photos

Belgium project (FlickR) - here
Toby Watson (Facebook) - here, here, here, here, here, here and here
Richard Cowan (Facebook) - here