Ormeau Park in Belfast was the venue for Round 8 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series with host club, Xmtb providing their expertise in creating courses to suit and challenge all age groups. Xmtb is well accustomed to putting on events at this venue, especially with their popular Spring series, and thanks have to go to Belfast City council for their continued support.The weather was mild with little wind and occasional outbreaks of sunshine. The set up was similar to last year with a wide start/finish area and the course making great use of the grass banks.
The first race of the day was for the Under 6s with the 38 young riders (29 boys and 9 girls) lined up to head off for their one lap race. This is described as the ‘fun’ race with goodie bags for all finishers.
Next up was the Under 8s race which started from the main starting area which overlooks the busy Ormeau Road. With similar numbers to the Under 6s race, these riders had two laps to complete which included a short dismount section to show off their bike skills. As we have come to expect there was the usual battle for the lead between Darragh Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) and Ryan McBride (Banbridge CC) with Ryan reaching the finish line first. Brodie Hull (Trail Demons CC) was back up on the podium in the U8 boys race as he took third place. Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) made this race her 8th win out of 8 races and even managed to finish just behind the third place boy. Aoife Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) took 2nd place for her 8th time this season. Isla Doherty (Apollo Cycling Team) rounded off the podium for the U8 girls.
The Under 10s used the same course as the Under 8s but had to complete 4 laps. Curtis McKee (Maryland Wheelers) made this his 7th straight win in the series but didn’t have the luxury of cruising around as James Armstrong (Dromara Cycling Club) was only 8 seconds behind. Cormac McCartan (Phoenix CC) got his first podium this season stepping up to the third step. In the girls’ race Aisling Smyth (Apollo Cycling Team) took the win and even managed to finish 5th overall in the U10 race. Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles) finished second with Cara Suckling (Maryland Wheelers) third.
There was an extended section of the course included in the Under 12s race which provided longer lap distances and then the riders were given 5 laps to complete. Despite the girls’ race starting several seconds after the boys’ race, Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) managed to pass all the boys and lead the race after lap 3. Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) took second place with Cara Moffitt (Phoenix CC) and just outside the podium was Zoe Lindsay (Dromore CC). Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) lead the boys race from start to finish. Reuben Maitland (Killinchy Cycling Club) was lying 2nd for the first two laps until he had mechnical issues and dropped out of contention. Karl Rockett (Ards CC) had a close battle with Daniel Scott (Island Wheelers) which came down to the line with Karl just one second ahead of Daniel at the finish.
As per the race day schedule the prize presentations was conducted for the Under 8s, 10s and 12s. The course was open for practice during this time. Racing started again at 11:45 with the women’s cyclo-cross and mountain bike support race, the Under 16s and Under 14s races.
Junior rider Niamh McKiverigan (Powerhouse Sport) put in consistent laps to take the win in the Women’s Cyclo-cross race. Diane Wilson (Dromara Cycling Club) was second (first time this season on the podium) with Julie Rea (Phoenix CC) third, Rachel Irvine (The Bike House CC) 4th and Martina Hawkins (Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club) 5th. Summer McGibbon (unattached) was the unplaced junior rider in this category.
Wannita Broome (Dromara Cycling Club) lead the women’s MTB support race for the first 3 laps until Alison McMullan (unattached) took over the lead and went on to take the win. Wannita finished second with Debbie Boyd (Apollo Cycling Team) third and Karen Wynne (Foyle CC) fourth. In the Under 16 boys race Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers) had a strong race to finish one minute ahead of Ciaran Dixon (Phoenix CC) who finished second with Somhairle Owens Fisher (Omagh Wheelers Cycling Club) third. Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers) had a comfortable win in the U16 girls’ race as she finished well clear of Maria McAllister (Island Wheelers) with Katie Neill (Carn Wheelers) third. In the Under 14 boys’ race Adam McGeever (AAA Cycling) repeated his success from Round 7 with another win. Travis Harkness (Carn Wheelers) was second with Adam Rafferty (Island Wheelers) third. Hannah Mullin (Trail Demons CC) finished over 1 minute ahead of Erin Creighton (XMTB) in the U14 girls’ race with Keela Smyth (Apollo Cycling Team) third.
The men’s Cyclo-cross A’ race took place next with 56 riders lined up in rows of 8 on the start line. Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) lead the race for 5 of the 8 laps until David Montgomery (unattached) caught him and went on to win. Graham finished second. Thomas Creighton (McConvey Cycles) had been holding a top 3 position until the final lap when Lewis Ferguson (The Bike House CC) passed him to finish third leaving Thomas 4th, first unplaced Junior rider. Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) was 5th with Christian Nachtigall (Phoenix CC) 6th. Jason Henry (unattached) took the prize for the first unplaced M40 with Peter McConville (Newry Wheelers CC) the first unplaced M50 and Peter Davison (Dromara Cycling Club) the first unplaced Espoir (Under 23) rider. The team prize went to Newry Wheelers when Conor Campbell, Barry Convery and Peter McConville crossed the finish line.
The final race of the day of the day was for the men’s Cyclo-cross B’ race and the men’s mountain bike support race. The MTB men started 1 minute behind the CX B race but that didn’t seem to stop Scott Maitland (Killinchy Cycling Club) from passing all of the CXB racers to lead the overall race. Gavin Thompson (Maryland Wheelers) was second in the MTB race with Brian Mcauley (unattached) third. In the CX B race there was a close battle between Chris Cameron (Kinning Cycles) and Paul Ferguson (The Bike House CC) with Chris taking the win and Paul finishing second. Michael Mcmullan (unattached) had a close finish with Paul Hamilton (PLUSHmtb) to take 3rd and 4th respectively with Marek Pluciniczak (Portadown Cycling Club) finishing 5th and Richard Gaffikin (Killinchy Cycling Club) 6th.
Post racing, the riders were able to enjoy the food supplied on site. Many thanks to all those within Xmtb who provided their input into pulling the event together. The riders seem to have enjoyed the course design and the good weather conditions. The final race of the series takes place at Donard Park in Newcastle hosted by Shimna Wheelers. See www.ulstercyclocross.com for details.
Commissaires: Jim Adams, Lisa Millar and Martin Grimley