The 2017 Ulster Cyclo-cross Championships were held at Mallusk Playing Fields on the outskirts of Belfast. The venue had been used last year for the same event and thanks have to be expressed for Glenn Kinning, his club mates at Kinning Cycles and to the other friends from other clubs who helped out as well. The course threaded its way around the football pitches making great use of the banks and steps. A sand trap had been created thanks to a lorry load of sand from Quarrystone. The weather had been kind with dry conditions throughout the day, starting off mild but with temperatures dipping as the day went on.
The first race of the day contained 7 different categories – Junior men, Junior women, Senior women, Under 16 boys, Under 16 girls, Under 14 boys, Under 14 girls. Each group started 30 seconds apart. The race was lead by the Junior men with Thomas Creighton (McConvey Cycles) putting in solid times in the 5 lap race to cross the line first. Sean Nolan (Navan Road Club) finished strongly in second place with Breandán Flannagan (Powerhouse Sport) third and Lee Harvey (Kinning Cycles) fourth. The Ulster medals went to Thomas, Breandán and Lee.
A new category for this year, the Junior women, had initially 4 entries, with just 2 completing the course. Well out in front was Niamh McKiverigan (Powerhouse Sport) who finished off a great cyclo-cross season taking gold with Rachel McBride (Omagh Wheelers Cycling Club) taking the silver medal.
Trudy Brown (VC Glendale) put on a great performance in the Senior Women’s race finishing over 2½ minutes ahead of Rachel Irvine (The Bike House CC), who has improved all season, with Julie Rea (Phoenix CC) third and Diane Wilson (Dromara Cycling Club) fourth.
One of the best battles of the day was in the Under 16 boys race between Ciaran Dixon (Phoenix CC) and Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers) which was wheel to wheel for the first 2 laps until Ciaran managed to get a gap on Darren to finish in this order. Somhairle Owens Fisher (Omagh Wheelers Cycling Club) finished third with Donal Walsh (AAA Cycling) fourth.
Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers) continued her form which she has shown through the season to finish comfortably ahead of Maria McAllister (Island Wheelers) with Méabh Flannagan (Ballymoney CC) taking the bronze medal.
In the Under 14 boys’ race Adam Rafferty (Island Wheelers) finished first with fellow club mate Shane Scullion second and Conor Gallagher (Errigal Cycling Club) third.
The Under 14 girls’ race was another exciting battle of the day this time between Erin Creighton (XMTB) and Hannah Mullin (Trail Demons CC) who were side by side for the first 2 laps. This race came down to the wire with Erin just getting ahead by 3 seconds over Hannah. Rachel White (North Down CC) finished third with Sophie Watson (VC Glendale) fourth.
The next races of the day were for the M40 and M50 men. Both races were missing some of the top riders who were racing at the World Masters Championships this weekend. Nonetheless there was some great racing in both races with Colm McGarvey (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) taking the win in the M40 men’s race as he finished ahead of Conor Campbell (Newry Wheelers CC) with Bob Talbot (Harps CC) taking third. Jason Henry (unattached) was fourth with Barry Convery (Newry Wheelers CC) fifth. The Team Prize in the M40 race went to Newry Wheelers when Drew McKinley crossed the line.
In the M50 race Aiden McDonald (Cuchulainn CC) had to work hard to stay ahead of John Bogues (Phoenix CC) with Peter McConville (Newry Wheelers CC) only a short distance behind John at the finish. Christopher McCann (Banbridge CC) finished fourth with Damien McGrane (Team Madigan C.C.) fifth. The Ulster medals went to John, Peter and Christopher.
The final race of the day was for the Senior men. This was held over 6 laps of the course. Course designer and event organiser Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles) even managed to get to race and what a race he had. By the end of lap one he had already pulled out a gap on the chasing group and continued to build this gap until the chequered flag. The real race was for second place with a tight battle between 2017 Ulster Cyclo-cross series winner David Montgomery (unattached), Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) and Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles). Barry managed to get himself into second place and held that until the end. Graham managed to pull away from David to finish 3rd and 4th respectively. Espoir rider Darnell Moore (Caldwell Cycles Omagh) was 5th with enduro legend Niall Davis (Biking.ie), making the long journey up from Dublin, finishing 6th. The team prize in the Senior race went to Dromara Cycling Club with Barry Kellett, Jack Ferguson and Graham Smyth taking to the podium.
Prize giving took place after each race with the top riders receiving Championship winner’s jerseys designed by Victory Chimp and supplied by Bio-Racer. Medals were presented by Rudy De Bie the National Belgium Cyclo-cross Coach who was over visiting.
Many thanks to Belfast City Council for the use of the site. Unfortunately with the strict catering arrangements at the location the club was restricted to using one approved supplier who did not turn up on the day as arranged. Hot drinks and hot food would have turned the great day into a perfect day.
Racing would now take a break for Christmas but look out for another Kinning Cycles event which is pencilled in for Sunday 7 January 2018. Keep an eye out on www.ulstercyclocross.com for details.
Commissaires: Martin Grimley, Lisa Millar, Jim Adams
Report by Martin Grimley
Kinning Cycles video (YouTube) – here