The penultimate Ulster CX (rd4) was held yesterday (Sun 19th Nov) in Portadown (CyclocrossNI Venue) hosted by Apollo CT from Co-Armagh in perfect muddy conditions which provided great entertainment for the supporters!! Here a indept report, and full results (incl. standings) from Martin Grimley, chief commissaire, with photos from the Belgian Project Media Team (Jerome-Dany B)
Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 4 – 2023 – Apollo CT – Report Martin Grimley
Round 4 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series took place on Sunday 19 November 2023 at CyclocrossNI in Portadown, a permanent cyclo-cross track owned by James Wilson. Host club for the event was Apollo Cycling Team, spearheaded by Chris Corey. Chris had worked with James to reconfigure the course so that the race went in reverse. Instead of whizzing down the dual slalom section at the far end of the course, the riders had to race up this section. A new take on the course and it seems to have gone down well. There had been a fair amount of rain in the lead up to the race with the course muddy in places. Throughout the race day there were occasional showers, not heavy, but enough to increase the amount of mud on the course. A challenge for riders of all ages. Starting off the day was the Under 6s race. The 12 young riders lined up for two laps of the mini course. The riders started on the gravel section before heading around their course on the grass, taking in two loops before heading to the finish line. This was a tricky course with those on strider bikes making it look easier than those using pedals. All riders managed to get round, with some parental assistance, and were rewarded with a nice goodie bag.
The Under 8s also started on the gravel section but their course took them into the upper field. They had 2 laps to complete. Daithi Hughes (Square Wheels) got his third win of the series in the boys’ race. James Kavanagh (Lakeland) was second – keeping him at the top of the series, with Séan McGahan (Square Wheels) just beating Jack Corey (Apollo Cycling Team) into third place. Ríonach Campbell (Square Wheels) continues to impress, finishing as first girl, second rider overall. Chloe Eagleson-McKenna (Un-Attached Ulster) was second with Elianna Logan (Omagh Wheelers Cycling Club) third.
The Under 10s started in the same location as the Under 8s but their course was longer and they had 4 laps to complete. In the boys’ race Lewis Bell (Lisburn BMX Club) got his second win of the series which keeps him top of the series table. Leo Gallagher (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) was second with Conor McGahan (Square Wheels) third. Ruby Millar (Square Wheels) finished as 4th rider overall, first girl. Eabha Connolly (Square Wheels) was second with Sophia Campbell (Phoenix CC) just getting ahead of Fiadh Craig (VC Glendale) to finish third and fourth respectively.
The Under 12s started along the edge of the field looking up to the dual slalom downhill section which they were going to be racing up. The Under 12s had 3 laps to complete. Jack McGahan (Square Wheels) was undaunted by the challenge and powered around the course to the finish line. Billy Lord (Breffni Wheelers) finally made it to the podium with a respectable second place. William Sunderland (Lisburn BMX Club) completed the podium in third place. As expected Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) took the win in the girls’ race, passing all but the winning boy. Amelia Finnegan (Square Wheels) was second with Erin Corey (Apollo Cycling Team) third.
After the usual break for podium presentations and course practice it was the turn of the Women, Under 16s and Under 14s. They started from the same location as the Under 12s but they used the full course. In the 3 lap Under 14 boys’ race Corran McCourt (VC Glendale) lead from start to finish keeping him at the top of the series table. Rory McCool (Square Wheels) was second with Kealan Doherty (Foyle CC) picking up third place.
In the Under 14 girls’ race Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) crossed the finish line first, after 3 laps, ahead of Ava Baker (Breffni Wheelers) who now leads the series. Aoife Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) was third and Skye Spence (Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club) was fourth.
Curtis McKee (Scott Bright Motor Group) took the expected win the 4 lap Under 16 boys’ race. Series leader Caleb McGreevy (VC Glendale) was second with Elliott McKeegan (Team Madigan C.C.) third and Kyle Stevenson (Strabane Lifford Cycling Club) fourth. Riley Smith (Banbridge CC) had a crash on the bridge on his first lap. Wishing him a speedy recovery. In the Under 16 girls’ race Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) got her fourth win from 4 rounds. Aisha Gannon (Breffni Wheelers) was second with Cara Suckling (VC Glendale) third.
In the 5 lap Women’s race Junior rider Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) lead from start to finish.
She was chased by another junior rider, Aine Doherty (VC Glendale), who finished second. Elena Wallace (Harps CC) was third with Darcey Harkness (VC Glendale) fourth. Heather Foley (Yeats Country Cycling Club) had her first cyclo-cross race of the season and managed to finish fifth and collect the first unplaced Masters prize.
The next race was the Cyclo-cross A’ race. This was held over 6 laps. From the starting whistle Darnell Moore (Team Caldwell Cycles) took to the front and never looked back. He finished over 3 and a half minutes ahead of his nearest rival.
For most of the race his nearest rival was Junior rider Cameron Henry (Inspired Cycling). Cameron and his father Jason had been struck by a car while out cycling on the roads just over a week ago. Thankfully both are well and Cameron was looking strong throughout the race. However, the more experienced Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) managed to close the gap to Cameron on the last lap and pass him to take second place. This moved Graham to the top of the series table. Cameron had to settle for third place. There was a close battle between Aaron Parks (Banbridge CC), Alan Bingham (Inspired Cycling) and Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) for fourth place. Aaron dropped out of the battle leaving Barry and Alan to contest this position. At the end it was Barry who finished fourth (picking up first unplaced M40) with Alan finishing fifth and collecting the first unplaced M50 prize. Barry Convery (Newry Wheelers CC) managed to make it up to sixth with Aaron finishing in 7th place. First unplaced Junior was Ashton Moore (Strabane Lifford Cycling Club) with the first unplaced M60 prize going to Derek Patterson.
The final race of the day was for the Cyclo-cross B’ race and the Mountain bike support race both having to do 4 laps. Gary McClune (Team Madigan C.C.) lead the pack for the first two laps but it was Peter Campbell (Phoenix CC) who took the win. Kevin McDowell (Un-Attached Ulster) was second with Gary picking up third place. All three are now obliged to ride the A’ race for the final round of the series. Bernard Mackle (Square Wheels) was fourth with William Larmour (East Antrim CC) fifth.
In the Mountain bike support race Gavin Thompson (Un-Attached Ulster) finished well clear of Gerard Curran (Tir Chonaill Gap CC) with series leader Calum McMonagle (Foyle CC) finishing third.
Many thanks to all those from Apollo Cycling Team for putting on a great event. Thanks to James Wilson for the use of the site and to the Belgian Project for providing the photographs and race commentary.
The final round of the series will take place on Sunday 3 December 2023 at Palace Demesne in Armagh hosted by Square Wheels. Next weekend we have the World Cup in Dublin to look forward to. Commissaires: Jim Adams and Martin Grimley
Thank you to APOLLO CT for having us at their CX, and appreciated the donation to our work, it keeps us going, regards, Dany & Jerome