Superb racing at World Cup Dublin cyclo-cross
The sports campus at Abbotstown in Dublin was the venue for Round 9 of the 2022 World Cup Cyclo-cross series. This was the first time that Ireland had hosted such a prestigious event and it had sparked the interest of all the cycling community. Flanders Classic were in charge of the course design and the schedule for the weekend. On Saturday 10 December there were two support races. The first race was for the Under 14s and Under 16s. The second race was a support races for adults. Both races were restricted to 180 riders by the Flanders organisers. All support races had to take place between 11:30 am and 2 pm. This was to allow for the course inspection by the UCI in the morning and then the official practice for the World Cup in the afternoon. On Sunday 11 December there was the Junior men and Junior women’s races. These were Category 2 (C2) races and not part of the World Cup. The World Cup had two races – Elite Women and then the Elite Men. On Sunday it was a ticket only affair for spectators. Over 4,000 tickets had been sold. The crowds around the course were huge and very vocal providing support to all riders, but particularly the Irish riders.
In the lead up to the race the temperature started to drop. On the Friday evening there was snow. Riders and spectators arrived to frosty conditions at Abbotstown on Saturday morning. No riders were allowed onto the course until 11:30. There was a window of 20 minutes before the Under 14s and Under 16s lined up. They had 3 laps to complete of the 3 km course. The course had been frozen but the mud underneath soon came through. The course had a sand section through the equestrian centre and then over the sharp hills at the far end of the course. This was a challenging course for all riders. In the Under 16 boys’ race, Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) took the win ahead of Curtis McKee (Scott Bright Motor Group) with David Gaffney (Dungarvan CC) taking third. The Under 14 boys’ had started 30 seconds behind the Under 16 boys. Rian McCrystal (Bellurgan Wheelers) crossed the line first with Caleb McGreevy (VC Glendale) second and Josh McClune (Team Madigan C.C.) third. There was a close battle between Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) and Greta Lawless (Team WORC) in the Under 16 girls’ race with Aliyah taking the flag. Rhiannon Dolan (Cuchulainn CC) was third. Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) comfortably won the Under 14 girls’ race. British rider Aisling Charleworth (Fibrax Wrexham Roads Club) finished second with Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) taking the third spot on the podium.
In the adult support races, the riders were lined up as follows – Senior men, M40 men, M50 men, M60 men then Women and they had 4 laps to complete. With the top local riders competing in the Elite men’s race the next day, the Senior men’s race was wide open. Eoin Ahern (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) took the opportunity and got himself a great victory finishing almost two minutes ahead of club mate Eric Downey. Frank Doherty (Killarney Cycling Club) took third. The M40s race seen a close battle between Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) and Alan Bingham (Newry Wheelers CC). They were riding close together for the first two laps but then Glenn managed to get a gap and extended that gap on the final lap. Alan had to settle for second place with Marc Flavin (Dungarvan CC) taking third. Des Woods (Newry Wheelers CC) put on a strong performance in the M50 race to take the win ahead of Jason Henry (Inspired Cycling) and Fearghal Regan (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial). There were only 4 riders in the M60 race. As expected Johnny McCabe (Cuchulainn CC) powered around the course to take the win. Paul Birchall (Verge Sport PI Cycles) was second, Eamonn Byrd (Dublin Wheelers) was third with Terence O’Neill (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles) fourth. In the Women’s race, Aoife Reilly (Dunboyne Cycling Club) lead from start to finish and was well ahead of nearest rival, Doireann Killeen (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club). Jean Wilson (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) completed the podium.
Support race results from Saturday 10 December 2022 – here
With the support races over, the spectators got to enjoy watching the international riders practice the course. Many of the top Elite men and women were also happy to pose for selfies and provide autographs. Practice was over by 4 pm with everyone looking forward to the next day’s racing.
Commissaires: Jim Adams, Ronan Fox and Martin Grimley
Sunday morning was also a cold one with issues with snow and ice across the country. It was an early start for the volunteers who had to meet on site at 6:30 am!! Course practice opened at 8:30 am after the salt was put down to melt the ice on the start line. The first race of the day was the Category 2 (C2) race for Junior Women. This race attracted 6 riders. Early leader Lucy Brown (Phoenix CC) crashed while on lap 1 and had to retire from the race. Katie Reilly (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) took the win ahead of Elena Wallace (Harps CC) with Zoe Lindsay (TC Racing) finishing third.
Junior women (C2) – here
Next up were the Junior men with saw 27 riders take to the line. They had 5 laps to complete. It was a repeat of the race at the UCI C2 race in Clonmel back in October this year with Oliver Akers, Sebastian Grindley (both with Garden Shed – Ribble – Verge Sport) and Irish national champion Liam O’Brien (Fermoy Cycling Club) battling it out for the top spots. The result turned out the same with Oliver taking the win, Sebastian second and Liam third.
Junior men (C2) – here
The first of the World Cup races was the Elite women’s race which saw a field of 30 riders. This was an exciting race with a good battle at the front. Fem Van Empel (PAUWELS SAUZEN – BINGOAL) took the win after 5 laps, just two seconds ahead of Puck Pieterse (ALPECIN-DECEUNINCK). Denise Betsema (PAUWELS SAUZEN – BINGOAL) finished third. The best of the Irish riders was Maria Larkin who finished 20th.
Elite women (World Cup) – here
The final race of the day was for the Elite men which saw 37 riders taking to the start line. They had 7 laps to complete on a very muddy course. This was a big crowd pleaser. Wout Van Aert (JUMBO-VISMA) took the win, despite having a mechnical where a rival’s towel got caught up in his rear mech. Laurens Sweeck (CRELAN – FRISTADS) pushed hard to hold onto the back of Van Aert but had to settle for second. World Champion Thomas Pidcock (INEOS GRENADIERS) finished third, Lars Van der Haar (BALOISE TREK LIONS) was fourth with Michael Vanthourenhout (PAUWELS SAUZEN – BINGOAL) fifth. The best of the Irish riders was Dean Harvey (Spellman-Dublin Port).
Elite men (World Cup) – here
YouTube video here
Commissaires: Sara Rodney, Paul Watson, Gary McIlroy, Jim Adams, Loch Miwa, Henry Whitston and Martin Grimley