Day 2 of the National XC Championships

The 2023 National Cross-country Mountain Bike Championships took place on Sunday 23 July at Bellurgan Park in County Louth. On Saturday we had the youth non-championship races but Sunday was for the championship races for the Under 14s up to adults. Heavy overnight rain and drizzle for most of the day had turned the track into a slippery, muddy challenge. The large event field held the car park, registration, coffee van, podium and the start and finish lines. With Paul Joyce on the microphone we had running commentary and music throughout the day.

The course remained largely the same as last year with some additional overtaking points added in. The lap times, however, given the condition were longer than last year.

Race 1 of the day was for the Under 14s who had to complete 3 laps of a reduced length course. The boys’ race was particularly exciting when Rian McCrystal (Bellurgan Wheelers) and Caleb McGreevy (VC Glendale) came through at the end of lap 2 side-by-side. All eyes were on the entrance to the event field when they next appeared. Again they were close together but after the final turn onto the finish line straight it was Rian who had the legs to keep ahead of Caleb. A great sprint finish. Taking the third spot on the podium was Fionn Crinion (IMBRC). In the girls’ race Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) finished well clear of Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) with Maeve McCool (Square Wheels) third and Lacey Aicken-Johnson (North Down CC) fourth.

Race 2 was for the Under 16s, Junior men, Women and an M60 men’s demonstration race. All riders were using the full course. The Under 16 boys had 3 laps to complete. Curtis McKee (Scott Bright Motor Group) took the chequered flag ahead of Ryan Daly (Scott Bright Motor Group) with Oliver Hylén O’Shaughnessy (Cuchulainn CC) finishing third. The Under 16 girls completed 2 laps. Faith Robinson (Bray Wheelers) finished well ahead of Cara Suckling (VC Glendale) with Aisha Gannon (Breffni Wheelers) third. The Junior men had 4 laps to complete. Travis Harkness (Scott Bright Motor Group) was well out in front for the first two lap but a mechanical issue let Curtis Neill (Team Caldwell Cycles) take over the lead which he held to the line. Travis finished second with Jake White (IMBRC) third. In the Women’s race Caoimhe May (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) crossed the line in first place. Junior riders Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) and Hannah McClorey (RFDA) finished second and third respectively. Leah McCarthy (K Capital Rocky Mountain) was fourth. In the M60 demonstration race David Lawless (Team WORC) took a comfortable win ahead of Gary Ringland (IMBRC) with Terence O’Neill (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles) finishing third.

Race 3 was for the M40 men and M50 men. The M40 men’s race was held over 4 laps. Brian Melia (Team WORC) lead the race from start to finish. There was a good battle for second place between Alfie Wallace (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles) and Raymond O’Shaughnessy (Cuchulainn CC) with Alfie taking the silver medal and Raymond lifting bronze. Pj Hynes (Cuchulainn CC) finished fourth with Oisin Boydell (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles) fifth. In the 3 lap M50 men’s race everyone knew that Robin Seymour (Team WORC) was going to take the win. With over 50 national titles to his name, Robin knows how to get himself to the finish line first and in 2023 he did it again. John Doris (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles) finished second with Colm McGarvey (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles) third. Vinnie Fitzsimon (Team WORC) was fourth with Aiden McDonald (Cuchulainn CC) fifth.

Race 4 was for the Senior men and M30 men. Both races were held over 4 laps. In the M30s race Lindsay Watson (Powerhouse Sport) lead from start to finish. Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) did get close to Lindsay at one point but his efforts weren’t enough to take the lead and he had to settle for second. Last year’s winner Lee Clarke (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) finished third with Robert McKenna (Bray Wheelers) recovering from a bad start to finish fourth just ahead of Michael Maher (Team WORC). In the Senior men’s race last year’s champion Christopher Dawson (Dawson Racing) returned to the top step of the podium despite having to stop for 40 seconds at the end of lap 1 for a mechanical and survive with a front wheel puncture on the last lap. Dean Harvey (Trinity Racing) finished second with Darnell Moore (Team Caldwell Cycles) taking third. David Montgomery (Spellman-Dublin Port) was fourth with Daniel Brickenden (Team WORC) fifth and Gareth McKee (Cycleology Racing Team) sixth.

Well done to all the competitors and thanks to all the pit crews and spectators. A huge congratulations to Bryan McCrystal and his team of helpers from Bellurgan Wheelers, Cuchulainn CC and others for hosting the championships again. Thanks to the landowner for the use of the site and to the sponsor Wheelworx Bike & Tri Shop. Thanks to Caroline Martinez, Cycling Ireland Off-road Commission’s Cross-country rep, for all her work with cross-country this season.

Commissaires: Maurice Mayne and Martin Grimley

Results here.

Cycling Ireland (Facebook) – here
Fran Hollywood (Facebook) – here

Day 1 youth non-championship results – here

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