The 2022 Ulster Cyclo-cross Championship took place on Sunday 18 December. This was one week later than originally planned in order to accommodate the World Cup in Dublin. This date also clashed with the final of the football World Cup between Argentina and France in Qatar. In the lead up to the race there had been a lot of frost with temperatures struggling to get over zero degrees. However, race day morning did turn out milder, as forecast, with much of the ice now melted. The venue for the event was Belfast Playing Fields in Mallusk on the outskirts of Belfast. The site is wide open and exposed and there was a cold wind all day. This wind was very gusty at times stressing gazebos, barriers and course tape. Host club Kinning Cycles put in a tremendous job of setting up the course and maintaining it throughout the day. The course had incorporated some new features, no doubt inspired by the World Cup course last weekend.

The first races of the day were the youth non-championship support events. First up were the Under 6s who had 2 laps of their short course. There were 6 riders in this race, 3 boys and 3 girls.

The next race was the Under 8s and they also had a 2 lap race. Jaxon Jennings (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) had made his way up from Dublin to compete in this race and managed to come away with a win. Conor McGahan (Square Wheels) was second with Daithi Hughes (Square Wheels) third. Among the girls the podium places were all filled with Square Wheels’ riders. Eabha Connolly took the top step with Ríonach Campbell second and Ciara McCool third.

The Under 10s race was held over 3 laps. Jack McGahan (Square Wheels) had already won 7 out of 8 rounds of the series this year so he was expected to win today, and did so. Cahir Hughes (Square Wheels) was second boy with Leo Gallagher (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) third. Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) was the first girl across, but second rider overall in the race. Amelia Finnegan (Apollo Cycling Team)and Fiadh Craig (VC Glendale) finished second and third respectively.

The Under 12 boys’ race was dominated by Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels) who finished well clear of his rivals in this 7 lap race. Rory McCool (Square Wheels) and Daragh Quigley (Foyle CC) had a sprint finish for second place with Rory getting the better of Daragh. In the girls’ race Ava Baker (Breffni Wheelers) took the chequered flag ahead of Skye Spence (Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club) and Carmen Buchowicz (Team Caldwell Cycles).

The podium presentations were carried out for the Under 8s, 10s and 12s and the series prizes were also handed out (personalised cups with treats inside!).

The first of the championship races then took place with the Under 14s and Under 16s lining up. In the Under 14 boys’ race Caleb McGreevy (VC Glendale) continued his great season taking another win. Josh McClune (Team Madigan C.C.) was second and Jamie Rockett (Ards CC) was third. Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) put on another powerful display to take the win in the Under 14 girls’ race. Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) was second with Clodagh Quigley (Foyle CC) third.

Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) had just returned from winning the Under 16 boys’ race at the National Trophy Series Round 5 in Nottingham. He then went onto win today at the Ulster championships. What a great weekend he has had! Cameron Henry (Inspired Cycling) finished second with Curtis McKee (Scott Bright Motor Group) rounding off the Under 16 boys’ podium. There were only two riders in the Under 16 girls’ race with Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) taking the win over Elisa Sunderland (Lisburn BMX Club).

The next race was for the Junior men, Women, M50s and M60s – starting in this order. In the Junior men’s race Seth Dunwoody (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) took the win, despite only competing twice in the series this year. Oisin Ferrity (Island Wheelers) took second place with Curtis Neill (Carn Wheelers) third. The Women’s race was combined on the start line but up for graps were medals for juniors, seniors and masters. There were no senior women in the race. Junior rider Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) took the overall win with Elena Wallace (Harps CC), another Junior, taking second. Caroline Martinez (Chain Reaction Cycles) was third over the line and took the first masters prize. Zoe Lindsay (TC Racing) was fourth over the line but picked up the bronze medal for junior women. Carly Connolly (Square Wheels) was fifth and picked up the silver medal for masters women.

The M50s race was held over 5 laps and for four of these Des Woods (Inspired Cycling) was leading. Jason Henry (Inspired Cycling) was never too far behind but Jason did manage to get in front on the final lap to take the win. Des had to settle for second with Declan McEntee (Emyvale CC) finishing off a great season taking third. James Wilson (Velocity Road Club) and Peter McConville (Newry Wheelers CC) had a good battle for fourth with James crossing the line ahead of Peter.

In the M60s race Fred Macsorley (Apollo Cycling Team) lead from start to finish. Lloyd Moore (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) was second with Derek King (Apollo Cycling Team) third.

The final race of the day was for the Senior men and M40 men. The Senior men completed 7 laps with the M40 men completing 6 laps. The M40s race was a carbon copy of the support race at the World Cup with Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) and Alan Bingham (Newry Wheelers CC) battling it out. As per the World Cup, Glenn managed to pull away from Alan to finish first and second respectively. Barry Convery (Newry Wheelers CC) was fourth with Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) fifth and David O’Neill (Inspired Cycling) sixth.

The Senior men’s race saw three riders who had competed at the Elite Men’s race at the World Cup in Dublin the previous weekend,
Dean Harvey (Spellman-Dublin Port), Christopher Dawson (Dawson Racing) and Darnell Moore (Team Caldwell Cycles). These three gapped the rest of the field very quickly. At the front it was a good battle between Dean and Christopher. The gap between them varied on each lap but it was Dean who went on to take the win. Christopher was second with Darnell untroubled in third place. Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) was fourth with Lee Harvey (VC Glendale) fifth.

Many thanks to Glenn Kinning and his band of helpers for putting on a great race. The next race in Ulster will be on Saturday 7 January 2023 at CyclocrossNI in Portadown. This will be the final round of the National Cyclo-cross Series.

Commissaires: Jim Adams, Martin Grimley

Results here

Race report Martin Grimley

Belgium Project (Facebook) – here