Sunday 12 January 2020 was day two of the Cycling Ireland National Cyclo-cross Championships hosted by Ballina Cycling Club at Enniscrone in County Sligo. A fine day with clear blue skies and winter sun. Conditions were still very muddy underfoot with lots of running required to get around the course.
There were four races today:
Race 1 was for the Junior men
Race 2 was for the Masters men (M40, M50 and M60)
Race 3 was for the Women (Seniors and Masters)
Race 4 was for the Senior men
There was a period of practice time before each race and an award ceremony immediately after each race.
The first race of the day was for the Junior men. There were 9 riders lined up to complete 5 laps of the course. Setting the fastest lap and then finishing over 2 minutes clear was Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers). Fionn Desmond (MBCC) was second with Dean Harvey (VC Glendale) working hard to take third place from Ruairi Coghlan (Scott Quanta Racing). Ciaran Dixon (Team Type 1 Junior Team) put in some very consistent laps to take fifth.
The largest race of the day was for the Masters. On the first whistle went the 52 riders in the Masters M40 race, setting off two minutes later were the 26 riders in the Masters M50 race and then, one minute later, the 9 riders in the Masters M60 race started. As per the Junior men’s race, they all had 5 laps to complete.
In the M40s race last year’s winner, Alan Bingham (Newry Wheelers CC), knew he had to work hard to fend off the king of off-road, Robin Seymour (Team WORC). Alan etched out 24 seconds over Robin over the first 3 laps but Robin started closing in on laps 4 and 5 but couldn’t close the gap leaving Alan with back-to-back wins. Behind the front two was Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) who had to work to hold onto the bronze medal position. Finishing 4th was Evan Ryan (Team WORC) with Kevin Keane (St. Tiernans Cycling Club) 5th and Ronan O’Flynn (Quanta Scott Orwell Wheelers Cyclin) 6th. Team WORC won the M40 team prize when Peter O’Farrell joined Robin and Evan at the finish.
Last year’s winner, Brendan Doherty managed to injure himself the week before at the Ulster Cyclo-cross championships which ruled him out of competing at the nationals. The 2018 winner Des Woods (Newry Wheelers CC) hasn’t been racing much this season but was expected to do well. Once the race got underway it was another Woods, Trevor Woods (STRATA3/VeloRevolution Racing Tea) who took up the charge and lead from start to finish. Des finished second with John Doris (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) third and Michael Jordan (CSS Tallaght Wheelers) fourth. Peter McConville (Newry Wheelers CC) and Paul Birchall (Verge Sport PI Cycles) finished 5th and 6th respectively.
Johnny McCabe (Cuchulainn CC) won the M60 nationals in 2019 and he was expected to do the same again in 2020. Johnny didn’t disappoint setting lap times that would be the envy of many of the younger riders. Christopher McCann (Banbridge CC) took second with Terence O’Neill (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) third. Michael Barton (Dromara Cycling Club) and Fred Macsorley (Apollo Cycling Team) took 4th and 5th respectively.
For the Women’s race this year, a Masters Women demonstration race was added to the programme. This attracted 7 entries with 6 riders taking to the start line. It is expected that the Masters Women will become a national championship category for 2021.
The Senior Women’s race included Junior women. With last year’s winner Lara Gillespie (UCD Cycling Club) concentrating on track this left the race wide open. Chicago based rider, Maria Larkin (Donkey Label Racing p/b FK Law), has been travelling over to race the national championships since 2015 with her best result being second place which happened at three of the championships. However, 2020 was finally her year and she lead from start to finish. Michelle Geoghegan (Un-Attached Munster) took second place and the silver medal with Junior rider Lucy O’Donnell (Verge Sport PI Cycles) taking third. Grace Young (STRATA3/VeloRevolution Racing Tea) finished fourth with Roisin Lally (Scott Quanta Racing) picking up the first unplaced Junior women prize.
In the Masters Women race it was Ulster rider Judith Russell (Phoenix CC) who set the pace over the 4 laps to take a comfortable win. Despite the Masters starting one minute behind the Seniors, Judith finished 6th place overall. Second Masters Women went to Helen White (Stamullen RC) with Sasha Gannon (Breffni Wheelers) getting third.
The final race of the day was for the Senior men. The course, at this point in the day, was very muddy indeed. A real challenge for all competitors. Leading the 7 lap race over the first 4 laps was Christopher McGlinchey (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brothers UK) with last year’s winner David Conroy (Scott Quanta Racing) keeping close behind. David, who has been based over in Belgium and racing lots of top quality cyclo-cross races, took over the lead on lap 5 and pulled away from Christopher to take the win. Espoir rider Thomas Creighton (McConvey Cycles) finished third with the 2018 winner Darnell Moore (Vitus Pro Cycling P/b Brother UK) 4th. Richard Barry (St. Finbarrs CC) was 5th with Jack Bernard Murphy (Arabay Team) collecting the first unplaced Espoir (Under 23) prize when he finished 6th. There weren’t enough teams entered to have a team prize for the Senior men.
After the races the riders could enjoy the hot food available on site. Well done to all riders. Many thanks to all the volunteers from the host club involved in putting on this great race. Thanks to the local council and to the sponsors.
Report by Martin Grimley
Commissaires: Gary McIlroy, Lisa Millar, Jim Adams, Loch Miwa and Martin Grimley