Round 3 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series took place on Sunday 5 November 2023 at Castle Saunderson in County Cavan. This was the second year that host club Breffni Wheelers had been given permission to use the site and it was easy to spot the improvements they had made on an already great setup from last year. Thanks to Cavan County Council for the use of the site. The abandoned castle looked splendid in the warm winter sunshine. The day was mostly dry with just a couple of short showers in the afternoon. The race village had been expanded on the upper tier of the castle garden. The finish line had been moved down to the second tier. The youth riders (U6 to U12) started on this second tier with the rest of the races starting from the car park behind the castle as per last year. This allowed a fast start up the tarmac before entering the grass sections in front of the castle.

There were over 190 registered for the race. Entries were boosted as there was no Leinster league race today as their latest race had taken place on Saturday 4 November at the McCrystal’s track in County Louth. Some of the riders from that race were back racing again today. The racing started with the Under 6s who had one lap of a short course to complete. Well done to the 11 young riders who picked up a goodie bag at the finish.

The Under 8s used the same course as the Under 6s but they had 3 laps to complete. In the boys’ race Daithi Hughes (Square Wheels) lead the race from start to finish. James Kavanagh (Lakeland) finished second with Séan McGahan (Square Wheels) third. James remains at the top of the series table. Ríonach Campbell (Square Wheels) made it three wins from three rounds in the girls’ race. Sarah McKeegan (Team Madigan C.C.) was second with Sally Mowbray (Belfast City BMX Club) third.

The Under 10s had a longer course than the Under 8s and had 4 laps to complete. Fresh from his win yesterday at the race at the McCrystal track, Benjamin Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) took the win in the Under 10 boys’ race today. Lewis Bell (Lisburn BMX Club) was second and leads the series. Conor McGahan (Square Wheels) was third. Ruby Millar (Square Wheels) won the Under 8 girls’ race. This was Ruby’s third win from three. Sophia Campbell (Phoenix CC) was second with Fiadh Craig (VC Glendale) completing the podium in third place.

The Under 12s course was longer than the Under 8s. The riders had 5 laps to complete. Putting on another impressive race was Daragh Quigley (Foyle CC) who took the top step in the boys’ race. Jack McGahan (Square Wheels) was second with William Sunderland (Lisburn BMX Club) picking up third and remains series leader. Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) won the girls’ race in style, catching all bar one of the boys, Daragh Quigley. Lilly McDermott (TC Racing) finished second with Amelia Finnegan (Square Wheels) third.

After a break for podium presentations and course practice it was the turn of the Under 14s, Under 16s and Women to race. The riders gathered in the car park behind the castle. The women set off first followed by the Under 16 boys two minutes later. Behind them went the Under 14 boys, the Under 16 girls and finally the Under 14 girls.

In the Under 14 boys’ race Eoin Davis (Bohermeen CC) managed to get the better of James Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club). The finish positions were reversed yesterday at the McCrystal track with James beating Eoin. Taking the bronze medal was Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels) who remains the series leader. In the Under 14 girls’ race Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) finished ahead of series leader Ava Baker (Breffni Wheelers), with Ciara O’Connor (Drogheda Wheelers) finishing third.

The Under 16 boys’ race had the usual names at the front of the bunch. Curtis McKee (Scott Bright Motor Group) took his second win of the series. Series leader Caleb McGreevy (VC Glendale) finished second. James Armstrong (VC Glendale) was third with Rian McCrystal (Bellurgan Wheelers) picking up fourth despite having the run to the pits with his bike in two pieces. In the Under 16 girls race Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) completed her hat-trick of wins in the series. Aisha Gannon (Breffni Wheelers) was second with Cara Suckling (VC Glendale) third.

Elena Wallace (Harps CC) was third at McCrystal’s track yesterday but took the win at Castle Saunderson in the women’s 4 lap race. Niamh Stephens (Team Giant Dublin) was second with Trudy Brown (VC Glendale) third. Caroline Martinez (Chain Reaction Cycles) was fourth and picked up the first unplaced masters prize.

The A race started next with 40 riders racing over 5 laps of the course. Curtis Neill (Team Caldwell Cycles) lead the race from start to finish. Cameron Henry (Inspired Cycling) was lying second for the first two laps but Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) caught up with Cameron and passed him to take second place. A good weekend of racing for Glenn who finished fourth the day before at the McCrystal track. Cameron finished third with Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) fourth. Cameron’s dad, Jason Henry (Inspired Cycling) was fifth and picked up the first unplaced M50 prize. Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) was sixth and picked up first unplaced M40 as well as now leading the series. David O’Neill (Inspired Cycling) was seventh and then joined Cameron and Jason on the podium to pick up the team prize. Derek Patterson picked up the first unplaced M60 prize

The last race of the day was for the B race and mountain bike support race. Both had 3 laps to complete. Having been training hard for the Hyrox in Dublin, Dariusz Buchowicz (Team Caldwell Cycles) easily won the B race. Niall James Murphy (Lakeland) was second with Aidan Reihill (Lakeland) third. These three are now obliged to compete in the A race for the remainder of the season. Peter Campbell (Phoenix CC) finished fourth with Colm Mitchell (Square Wheels) fifth.

In the mountain bike support race Gerard Curran (Tir Chonaill Gap CC) took with win ahead of Colin Smith (Cuchulainn CC) with series leader Calum McMonagle (Foyle CC) third and Liam Higgins (Sheelin Flyers Cycling Club) fourth.

A huge thanks to all the members of Breffni Wheelers who helped put on this event. It all went like clockwork today. Thanks again the the council and to all the photographers who help show off this great sport.

More photos can be found on of this event

Sunday 12 November 2023 – Round 4 of the National Cyclo-cross Series will take place in the grounds of the Technological University of the Shannon in Thurles, County Tipperary hosted by Upperchurch Drombane. Link to register is given here >> <<

Round 4 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series will take place at CyclocrossNI in Portadown, County Armagh on Sunday 19 November 2023. Details can be found here >> << Commissaires: Jim Adams, Liz Roche and Martin Grimley Race results here >> << Overall series results here >> <<
Report by Martin Grimley