An educated report from Martin Grimley (commissaire and off-road secretary) Photos from David Mc Veigh, Jerry Rafferty, and yours truly, results courtesy of the Square Wheels time team and ELITE TIMING…what a battle it was in all the races with the biggest crowd witnessed since a long time…chapeau Square Wheels CC,
Day 2 of the 2022 National Cyclo-cross Championships took place on Sunday 9 January at Palace Demesne, Armagh hosted by Square Wheels. The course condition hadn’t changed much overnight but the weather on Sunday was better than on Saturday with less rain and more winter sunshine. The main course was modified slightly from Saturday especially for the final run into the finish line where a grass loop was removed. There wasn’t much that could be done with the muddy conditions though. There was another great turnout from the host club with lots of marshals on-site and sorting out the administration in the background. There was a large number of riders entered for the races but there were a few expected names missing due to currently having or recently recovering from Covid-19. However, it was great to be able to host the National Cyclo-cross championships which had been cancelled in January 2021 due to the pandemic.
Sunday saw much bigger crowds of spectators for all races including representatives from the Cycling Ireland and Cycling Ulster hierarchy. A new sponsor for Cycling Ulster, Philip McCallen, was onsite with a selection of e-bikes including a cyclo-cross e-bike with a demonstration lap being completed by Mitchell McLaughlin (Evo Pro Racing). It was a shame to see a nice, new bike covered in mud! This year there was a television crew on-site to cover the Women’s and Senior men’s races. This was then aired live so that people at home could watch the action. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Tb5y-yK4gs
Racing kicked off at 9:45 with the Junior men with 16 riders lined up at the start line for 4 laps of the main course. The start was on the tarmac road with a 130-meter sprint to the muddy grass section. Almost in a race of his own was Liam O’Brien (Fermoy Cycling Club) who lead from start to finish. Travis Harkness (VC Glendale) finished second with Niall McLoughlin (Westport Covey Wheelers Cycling Club) and Adam Rafferty (US Colomiers) battling for third place. Niall secured third with Adam having to settle for 4th. Sam Bolger (Killarney Cycling Club) was 5th with Curtis Neill (Carn Wheelers) 6th
Next up were the Master’s men. The biggest field of the day was for the Masters M40s which had 43 riders lined up. Starting one minute behind were the M50 men (22 riders) then, one minute later, the M60 men (8 riders). All categories had to complete 4 laps. Having broken a bone in his foot at the Ulster Cyclo-cross championships on 12 December 2021, Alan Bingham (Newry Wheelers CC) was on a mission to get fit and try to retain his M40 title. Alan put on a super display of racing and took the win ahead of Paul McCarter (Spellman-Dublin Port) with an impressive Drew McKinley (Newry Wheelers CC) taking third place. Marcus Flavin (Dungarvan CC) finished 4th with Barry Convery (Newry Wheelers CC) finishing 5th. When Barry crossed the line this secured a team prize for Newry Wheelers – 3 gold medals for Alan, Drew, and Barry.
The M50s race was led by Des Woods (Newry Wheelers CC) and Trevor Woods (All human/VeloRevolution Racing Team) in this order until the final lap when Trevor managed to gap Des to retain the M50 title he won back in 2020. Jason Henry (Inspired Cycling) finised 3rd, Michael Jordan (CSS Tallaght Wheelers) was 4th and Fearghal Regan (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) was 5th.
Johnny McCabe (Cuchulainn CC) was tipped as the favourite for retaining his M60 title from 2020. Johnny did lead the race but had Paul Birchall (Verge Sport PI Cycles) tucked in behind him for the first 2 laps. By lap 3 Johnny had pulled clear of Paul and stayed away to cross the finish line triumphantly. Paul finished second with Deon McNeilly (Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club) taking third place, his first cyclo-cross race this season. Christopher McCann (Banbridge CC) had another good race to finish 4th.
After a short break, the next set of riders lined up for their race. In the first group were the Women (which included Juniors and Seniors). Behind them were the Master’s Women. Both had 3 laps of the course to complete. The current titleholder of the Women’s race, Maria Larkin (Donkey Label p/b FK Law), had again flown in from her Chicago base to contest the championships. Maria took the lead early on and powered her way to the finish line. Darcey Harkness (VC Glendale) was the nearest chaser who had a strong race to finish second. Roisin Lally (Scott Quanta Racing) was third with Michelle Geoghegan (Velorevolution WPCycles), who had just flown in from Belgium, being rewarded with fourth place. Hannah McClorey (RFDA) finished 5th and took home the first unplaced Junior award.
The Master’s women race was only a demonstration race back in 2020 when the last National Cyclo-cross Championships took place. This year it was an official championship category. Judith Russell (Phoenix CC) had won the Master’s Women’s race back in 2020 and today she went and did it again with an impressive performance. Helen White (Stamullen RC) finished second with the newcomer to cyclo-cross this year, Heather Foley (Yeats Country Cycling Club), finishing third. Martina Hawkins (Dromara Cycling Club) was 4th with Julie Rea (Phoenix CC) 5th.
The final race of the day was for the Senior men. This was held over 6 laps and featured a lineup of 27 riders. Christopher McGlinchey (Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus) lead after the first two laps with Sean Nolan (Evo Pro Racing) taking over the lead for laps 3 and 4. Christopher managed to get away from Sean and lead for the remaining two laps to take the win in front of a large vocal crowd. Sean finished second with Darnell Moore (Team Caldwell Cycles) taking the third place on the podium. Dean Harvey (Spellman-Dublin Port) was fourth and picked up the first unplaced Espoir (Under 23) prize. There was a good battle for 5th place with Richard Maes (All human/VeloRevolution Racing Team) securing this slot ahead of Niall Davis (Biking.ie), Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) and Darragh McCarter (Spellman-Dublin Port) who were 6th, 7th and 8th respectively.
This concluded the 2022 National Cyclo-cross Championships. The host club got busy taking the course down, the gazebos were packed away, the banners and flags stored for the next big event. A huge thanks to all the volunteers from Square Wheels for putting on a wonderful event. Many thanks to Armagh, Banbridge, and Craigavon Council for permitting the event, to the sponsors for supporting the event, to the photographers who covered so much of the action, to Paul Joyce for providing exciting race commentary and to the crowds of people who attended. The full results are on http://www.offroadcyclingireland.ie/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Irish_National_Cyclo_cross_championships_2022_Results.htm Thanks also to the television crew for providing great coverage of our cycling discipline. Commissaires: Gary McIlroy, Jim Adams, Loch Miwa, Henry Whitston, and Martin Grimley. (author of review)