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Date: Sunday 12 January 2014
Event: Irish National Cyclo-cross Championships 2014
Location: Lady Dixon Park, Belfast
Host club: Phoenix CC

The 2014 Irish National Cyclo-cross Championships took place on the second Sunday in January in Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in Belfast.  Host club Phoenix CC, in association with McConvey Cycles, had been on site over the weekend preparing the course which was based on their round of the 2013 Ulster Cyclo-cross series but with new sections included.  Still in place were the steps (newly constructed again with sand but moved to a different location), the wooded section at the boundary of the park and the infamous "Carnage Corner".  This off-camber left hand turn was very tricky to negotiate and attracted a large contingent of spectators ready to watch the fallers.  Hay bales had been well placed to prevent riders hitting the trees.   

The morning of race day was cool but dry with some sunshine peaking through the clouds.  Sign on for the event opened at 09:30 with over 100 riders pre-entering.  For this year riders had to have their 2014 licence in place with the organisers having to extend the cut off time to allow licencing administration.  The first race of the day was at 11 am with the Support race for seniors and Under 16s, all completing 5 laps.  Cameron McIntyre (Banbridge CC) won the Under 16s race finishing ahead of David Conroy.  First of the male support riders was Chris Grieve with Diarmuid Clancy and Murt Rice finishing 2nd and 3rd.

At 11:15 the Veterans, Women and Junior races started.  They had to complete 7 laps of the course.  When the whistle blew there was a pile up at the rear of the veteran field, thankfully all riders continued with the race.  Avoiding the crash was John Bogues, one of the main event organisers, who was reluctant to take part in this race as he had been so busy sorting out the event.  John had a great race and was overjoyed when he finished first to take the Veteran Title, ahead of Jason Henry and Aiden McDonald (Cuchulainn CC).  Last year's champion, Peter McConville (Newry Wheelers), had some unfortunate crashes and bike issues but still managed to finish 4th overall ahead of Gary Shiels (Cuchulainn CC).  Cuchulainn CC won the Veteran Team prize when Johnny McCabe crossed the line.  

The women's race started at the same time as the Veteran men which hampered the top female riders as they had to weave through the slower veterans men.  Once they got going there was the expected battle between Mel Spath and Fran Meehan with Mel getting the early lead.  Fran eventually caught and passed Mel and pushed on to take the win.  Third place went to Maeve O'Grady.

The Juniors also started at the same time as the Women and Veterans.  Rory Maguire (Phoenix CC) continued his strong form from the Ulster CX series to take the win comfortably ahead of James Curry (Banbridge CC) and Darnell Moore (Caldwell Cycles).

The big race that the spectators were looking for was the 1:45 event, senior race for both Elite and Under 23 men.  To add to the challenge for these riders was the rain which was coming on heavy since the end of the previous race.  This race was expected to be dominated by two great names in Irish Cyclo-cross history, Robin Seymour (Team WORC) and Roger Aiken (Banbrige CC).  Their battle in the 2013 championship will go down as one of the most exciting seen as both riders were locked together until the final lap when Roger broke away and took the win.  The 2014 showdown was expected to follow the same pattern but Roger had other ideas and went off very quickly at the start to get to the first left hand corner at the end of the tarmac.  Robin was leading the field in the chase after Roger and behind him was one of the strongest field of riders to date chasing for 3rd place.  These included Tim O'Regan, Ray O'Shaughnessey, Glenn Kinning, Ronan McLaughlin, Sean O'Tauthail and Anthony 'Zippy' Doyle.  At the end of lap one Roger had a small lead of around 5 seconds on Robin with a gap forming behind Robin to 3rd place which was Glenn Kinning.  At the end of lap 2 Roger was now 15 seconds clear.  The gap was around 25 seconds at the end of lap 3 with the gap also extending between Robin and Glenn and between Glenn and the rest of the pack.  Roger continued to stretch out the gap and by the end of the 9 laps he finished 1 minute 42 seconds ahead of Robin with Glenn almost 3½ minutes behind Robin.  The Under 23 prize went to Matthew Adair (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) who finished ahead of David Montgomery and Chris Oakley (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) .  The Senior Team prize went to Team WORC (Robin, Evan Ryan and Stuart Galloway).

After the races the riders were able to enjoy hot drinks, hot dogs, stew, buns and more thanks to the great hospitality of the host club.  Many thanks to the organisers John Bogues and Stephen Moffet and to the large cast of Phoenix members who helped make a superb event.  That is the cyclo-cross season now at a close.  It is expected to resume in September 2014.

Commissaires:
Paul Watson, Jack Watson and Aidan Higgins.

Report by Martin Grimley

Results here
(with lap times)

Report on StickyBottle - here and here
Report on Cycling Ulster - here

Photos
Eric Blayney (FlickR) - here
Kinning Cycles (Facebook) - here
Tody Watson (Facebook) - here
The Belgium Project (Facebook) - here
The Velo Man (Facebook) - here
David McVeigh (FlickR) - here
Eva Stolz (Facebook) - here and here
IrishCycling - here
Gareth Gibbons (Facebook) - here
Paul Toner (FlickR) - here
Bronagh Kirk - here
Sean Rowe (Facebook) - here

Video
Cycling Ulster (youtube) - here