An in-dept report of Martin Grimley (comm on the day) and some photos of Paul Wharton (or otherwise stated)
The first round of the 2019 Ulster Cross-country Mountain Bike series took place on Sunday 7 April at Craigavon Lakes. Hosted by Apollo Cycling Team who, although have been running races on this site for decades, this is only the second year the club has used the Tannaghmore Gardens side of the lake to host the event. The terrain is a mixture of gravel trails, technical sections and a wide grass start/finish. The trail conditions had improved after the fine weather on Saturday with race day being overcast but dry making for some fast lap times.
The first race of the day was for the Under 6s who had their own track near the entrance to the park. There was a good turn out of 26 young riders who had to complete 2 laps. Under 8s started next using the same starting point but had 3 laps to complete. Taking the win in the boys’ race was Brodie Hull (Trail Demons CC) with Ryan McKeown (Trail Demons CC) second and Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels) third. Fastest girl was Skye Spence (Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club) with Leah Hepburn (Island Wheelers) second and Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) third. The racing then moved to the wide grass area near the lakeside. Under 10s had their own course and had to complete two laps. There was a really close race between Rhys Hepburn (Island Wheelers) and Caleb McGreevy (Apollo Cycling Team) which came down to a sprint finish with Rhys taking gold and Caleb the silver medal. Jamie Ervine (Apollo Cycling Team) completed the podium taking bronze. Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles) took the win in the girls’ race with Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) second and Maeve McCool (Square Wheels) third. The Under 12s also had their own course which was an extension of the Under 10s course. They also had 2 laps to complete. Putting in a strong performance was Curtis McKee (Maryland Wheelers) with Thomas McAlinden (Apollo Cycling Team) second and Calum Hepburn (Island Wheelers) third. Cara Suckling (Maryland Wheelers) took the win for the girls with Elisa Sunderland (Apollo Cycling Team) second and Tori Moffitt (Phoenix CC) third.
After a break for podium presentations and course practice the next set of races started around noon with the Under 14s, Under 16s, Senior 2 women, Senior 3 women and Senior 4 men. The course had a separate variable for the Under 14s and Senior 3 women. The Under 14s had to complete 2 laps. The finish in the Under 14 boys’ race was a dramatic one with a sprint finish with Shane Scullion (Island Wheelers) just doing enough to deny Travis Harkness (Carn Wheelers) the win. Third place went to Oisin Ferrity (Island Wheelers). Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) put on another fine display of racing to finish well clear of Keela Smyth (Apollo Cycling Team) with Cara Moffitt (Phoenix CC) third. The Under 16 boys’ were accidentally directed along the Under 14s course for the first lap. Leading from start to finish was Dean Harvey (VC Glendale) with James Campbell (XMTB) getting the better of James Webb (Trail Demons CC) to finish in this order. There were no Under 16 girls in today’s race.
The Senior 4 men had to complete 3 laps and it was Alan Magee (Caldwell Cycles Omagh) who finished almost 5 minutes ahead of his nearest rival, Aaron Fegan, with third place going to Jonathan Ward (Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club).Judith Russell (Phoenix CC) took part in her first cross-country MTB race and had a comfortable win in the 2 laps Senior 3 women’s race finishing ahead of Alison McMullan (Unattached) with Michelle Irvine (Unattached) third. Trudy Brown (VC Glendale) returned to her winning ways in the Senior 2 women’s race which was held over 3 laps. Andra Hamilton (Dromara Cycling Club) was second with Ruth McKee (Banbridge CC) third and Janice Hepburn (Square Wheels) fourth.
After another break for podiums and practice, the final races of the day took place at 2 pm. Lined up were the Senior 1 men, who had 7 laps to complete, Junior Men (6 laps), Senior 1 women (5 laps), Senior 2 men (6 laps) and Senior 3 men (5 laps). James McCourt (Island Wheelers) took the win in the Senior 3 men’s race with Mark Johnston (V.C. Iveagh) second, Lee Clarke (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) third and Barry Tinnelly (Newry Wheelers CC) fourth. David McKee (Maryland Wheelers) was lying second until the final lap and had to settle with fifth place. In the Senior 2 men’s race, Scott Maitland (Killinchy Cycling Club) lead from start to finish. Barry Russell (Carn Wheelers) and Chris Oakley (XMTB) had a good battle with Chris just getting ahead on the final lap. Barry wished he hadn’t competed in the Super 6 time trial earlier in the day! Brendan Doherty (VC Glendale) finished fourth with Dean Burnside (Island Wheelers) fifth and William Boyd (McConvey Cycles) sixth. Lee Harvey (VC Glendale) put on a very powerful performance in the Junior men’s race to take a clear win ahead of Andrew Gordon (Ballymoney CC) with Charlie Tinnelly (Newry Wheelers CC) third. In the Senior 1 women’s race, Niamh McKiverigan (Powerhouse Sport) and Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers) had been racing together for the first two laps until Niamh pulled away to take a clear win.
Gareth McKee (Banbridge CC) won the Senior 1 men’s race with David Montgomery (Unattached) second. Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) took third with Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) fourth. Many thanks to all the volunteers from Apollo Cycling Team for hosting the event. The next round of the series was meant to be on 28 April but host club Dromara CC is unable to secure a suitable venue. The next round will, therefore, be on 19 May hosted by Carn Wheelers at Davagh Forest.