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National CX Championships 2017

Date: Sunday 8 January 2017
Event: Irish National Cyclo-cross Championships 2017
Location: Tollymore Forest Park, County Down
Host club: Dromara Cycling Club

Tollymore Forest Park, near Newcastle County Down, was the venue for the 2017 Irish National Cyclo-cross Championships for the second year in a row.  Dromara Cycling Club stepped up to host the event again after great reviews from the year before.  In contrast to the 2016 event, which was a bitterly cold day with snow on the Mournes adding to the icy wind, this year the temperature was into double figures, with light winds and even outbreaks of sunshine.  It felt almost like a spring day rather than the second Sunday in January, the traditional date for the Cyclo-cross Championships.  Cyclo-cross is growing across Ireland both in participants and in the number of events.  Entries for this year's championships were up overall with 176 pre-entered.

As per last year, the course was spread across four fields with the start/finish in the monument field.  The riders then raced towards the scout hut, turning sharply left into field 2.  Between Field 2 and 3 was a short wooded section which exits into the pit area in Field 3.  Exiting the pit the riders then turned left and headed up the slope before sweeping anti-clockwise around the curve, rising up the slope again before heading along the fast section close to the boundary fence. Entry and exit into Field 4 is at the same gap in the fence.  The course in Field 4 does a straight out-and-back section before heading towards the drop off slope where there is a W-shape section then a U-shape  section.  Exiting back into Field 3 the riders swing round and head back towards the pits, going over the plank obstacles and through the short spiral.  Exiting the pits the riders then exit Field 3 onto the tarmac climb up towards the scout hut.  They turn left and head over the log, then up the newly created steps before returning to Field 1.  For this year there was a T-shape section half-way along the slope to bring the riders up near the commentator.  The riders then drop down the slope again, through a short chicane, head into the lower corner of field before turning right and heading towards the finish line.  A deceptively tough course at 2.9 km with 37 metres of elevation.

The first race of the day was for the M40 and M50 men. Together there were over 80 riders on the course and they had to complete 6 laps.  In the M40 race the top riders remained close together at the end of lap 1 with a tight group of 8 riders crossing the line together. This dropped to a leading group of 6 at the end of lap 2 but by the end of lap 3 there were just two riders out front - living legend of cyclo-cross Robin Seymour (Team WORC) and newcomer to cyclo-cross Alan Bingham (Cuchulainn CC).  Alan is one of the top riders on the road and has got stronger and stronger each race over the season as he converted his road racing fitness to cyclo-cross racing.  By the end of lap 4 Robin had pulled out a 12 second lead over Alan with Brendan Doherty (VC Glendale) on his own in third place.  Robin had extended his lead to 34 seconds at the end of lap 5 and now Alan and Brendan were battling it out for second place. Robin kept his lead to the finish line and Alan managed to shake off Brendan.  Colm McGarvey (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) finished fourth with Jason Henry fifth and Anthony 'Zippy' Doyle (STRATA3/VeloRevolution Racing Team) sixth.

The M50 mens race was expected to be another battle between the Newry Wheelers riders Des Woods and Peter McConville as per the Ulster Championships which was a few weeks previous.  At the end of lap one Des and Peter crossed the line together but Des proved that it was going to be his day as he pulled out a gap on Peter by the end of lap 2 and extended that gap to almost 2 minutes by the end of the 6 laps.  John Doris (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) was in third place on lap 1 and remained there on his own to the finish line.  Michael Jordan (Team Cycle SuperStore) took fourth with David Lawless (Team WORC) fifth and  Aiden McDonald (Cuchulainn CC) sixth.

Next up were the Juniors, Women and M60s.  The six junior riders set off first following one minute later by a field of 17 women then the six riders in the men's M60 category.  In the Junior race JB Murphy (Murphy Surveys Kilcullen CC), John Buller (Banbridge CC) and Thomas Creighton (McConvey Cycles) came through together at the end of lap 1 but by lap 2 JB had pulled away from the chasing pack.  John Buller and Thomas Creighton remained close at the end of lap 2 but John then increased the gap on Thomas to complete the podium in that order.

In the women's race, last year's winner Beth McCluskey (Team Jadan-Weldtite) pulled away early from the others leaving the race for second place between Fiona Meade (Blarney Cycling Club) and Maria Larkin (Chicago Cutting Crew).  Maria held second place with less than 15 seconds gap to Fiona over the first 3 laps. On lap 4 Fiona was ahead of Maria but Maria fought back to regain second place which is how it finished, McCluskey, Larkin then Meade.

The M60s race was run for the first time this year and had 6 riders on the line.  Terence O'Neill (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) lead from start to finish with Raymond Beers (East Antrim CC) out on his own in second.  Fred Macsorley (Apollo Cycling Team) was holding onto third place until lap 5 when a mistake allowed Michael Barton from the host club to take the bronze position.

The final race of the day was for the Senior men which was held over 7 laps.  Last year's winner Roger Aiken was expected to run away with the race but a fall on the tree trunk obstacle on the first lap, in front of all the cameras, kept him within the bunch as he crossed the line with Gareth McKee (Banbridge CC) to complete lap 1.  By lap 2 Roger had pulled away with Christopher McGlinchey (Chain Reaction Cycles), Paul O'Reilly (UCD Cycling Club) and Gareth McKee battling it out for second place.  By the end of lap 3 Paul O'Reilly had dropped back with Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles) now in the mix with Christopher and Gareth for the race for second place.  By lap 4 the race had settled down into a race for second between Christopher and Glenn which went all the way to the chequered flag.  Roger Aiken took the win with 1 minute 20 seconds to spare ahead of Glenn Kinning who just crossed the line 2 seconds ahead of Christopher McGlinchy.  Fourth place went to Paul O'Reilly with Gareth McKee fifth and Barry Kellett from the host club in sixth place.  The team prize went to Team WORC.

A huge thanks to the volunteers from Dromara Cycling Club as well as friends from other clubs for putting on the race.

Commissaires:
Paul Watson, Gary McIlroy, Maurice Mayne and Maciej Staroniewicz

Report by Martin Grimley

Technical Guide - here
Spectator Guide - here
Results here

Photos
Belgium Project - FlickR - here
Richard Cowan - Facebook - Senior men, Women, Juniors, M60, Other photos
Sean Rowe - Facebook - Senior men, Women, Juniors, M40, M50, M60
Toby Watson - Facebook - Senior men, Senior men2, Women, M40/M50
Fran Hollywood - Facebook - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Bronagh Kirk - own site - M40/M50, Junior-Women-M60, Senior men

Videos
Aerial photography - Race day
Aerial photography - Practice day
Contenders video