The 4th and final round of the inaugural National Cyclo-cross Series took place on Saturday 7 January 2023 at the permanent track – CyclocrossNI in Portadown. James Wilson, the site owner, had been busy since the last race on this site back in November with a café setup, wider pits and a new sand mound feature at the top of the hill. The weather was mild but with a strong, cold wind. Overnight heavy rain had left the site muddy with the ‘going’ heavy. Over 170 riders had registered to take part.
The first race of the day was for the Under 6s with 3 young riders taking on two laps of a short course.
The Under 8s then lined up for their race. They had their own course and had to complete 3 laps. Conor McGahan (Square Wheels) lead from start to finish in the boys’ race. Daithi Hughes (Square Wheels) was second with Jack Corey (Apollo Cycling Team) third. Eabha Connolly (Square Wheels) was leading the girls’ race for the first two laps but was then passed by Ríonach Campbell (Square Wheels) who took the win. Eabha was second with Marian Mulvaney (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club) third and Ciara McCool (Square Wheels) fourth.
The Under 10 riders started over near the pits. They had 4 laps of their course to complete. The top 3 boys was decided after the first lap. It finished Benjamin Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) first, Jack McGahan (Square Wheels) second and Cahir Hughes (Square Wheels) third. Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) had another marvellous race, passing all the boys apart from Benjamin Cunningham to take the win in the girls’ race. Amelia Finnegan (Square Wheels) was second with Lucy Reynolds (Un-Attached Ulster) third.
The Under 12s started at the same location as the Under 10s and their course took in about half of the main course. They had 3 laps to complete. Well out in front were James Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) and Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels). These riders were wheel to wheel with only 3 seconds separating them at the finish. Rory McCool (Square Wheels) finished third, well clear of the other riders. Ava Baker (Breffni Wheelers) was leading the girls’ race after lap 1 but Laoise Crinion (IMBRC) got to the front and held her position to the line. Ava was second with Eire McCrystal (Bellurgan Wheelers) third and Carmen Buchowicz (Team Caldwell Cycles) fourth.
Next up was the first of the national series category races with the Under 14s and Under 16s lining up. In the Under 16 boys’ race Cameron Henry (Inspired Cycling) was leading after lap 1 but Curtis McKee (Scott Bright Motor Group) got ahead of him and went on to take the chequered flag after 3 laps. Cameron was second with Jack Woods (Carlow RCC) third and Hugh Og Mulhearne (Panduit Carrick Wheelers) fourth. Curtis McKee was the overall series winner in this category.
Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) lead from start to finish in the Under 16 girls’ race. Faith Robinson (Bray Wheelers) was second with Kate Murphy (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club) third and Aisha Gannon (Breffni Wheelers) fourth. Kate Murphy won the overall series.
Caleb McGreevy (VC Glendale) was delighted to take the win in the Under 14 boys’ race ahead of his nearest rival Rian McCrystal (Bellurgan Wheelers) who was second. This left Caleb and Rian as joint winners of the series. Fionn Crinion (IMBRC) was third on the day with Shane O’Brien (Fermoy Cycling Club) fourth.
There were only two entries in the Under 14 girls’ race with Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) the only one to complete the race.
The next race was for the Junior men, Women, M50s, M60 and the B’ race. The Junior men’s race was an exciting one. Joseph Mullen (Navan Road Club) lead after lap 1. Curtis Neill (Team Caldwell Cycles) took over the lead for laps 2 to 4 but an issue on the final lap allowed Seth Dunwoody (Shelbourne/Orchard CC), who was lying in third place for the first 4 laps, to get ahead of both Curtis and Joseph to take the win. Joseph was second with Curtis third. Oisin Ferrity (Team Caldwell Cycles) was fourth with Samuel Coleman (Villeneuve Cycliste) fifth. Joseph Mullen took the overall series win.
In the Women’s race Junior rider Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) lead the race from the whistle. Stephanie Roche (Scott Bright Motor Group) was always chasing in second place with Grace Young (All human/VeloRevolution Racing Team) third. First unplaced Junior was Elena Wallace (Harps CC) with first unplaced master going to Helen White (Stamullen RC). Stephanie Roche won the overall series.
The M50s race was another exciting one. Jason Henry (Inspired Cycling) lead after lap 1 but Colm McGarvey (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles) came through and managed to hold onto the lead to the finish. Jason then had a battle with club mate Des Woods for second place. Jason had dropped back to third after lap 3 and 4 but managed to get second place back from Des at the finish. There was only a few seconds between them at the end. Fearghal Regan (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) finished fourth today but won the overall series.
Johnny McCabe (Cuchulainn CC) was expected to dominate the M60s race and he didn’t disappoint. Paul Birchall (Verge Sport PI Cycles) finished second with Christopher McCann (Banbridge CC) third. Paul won the overall series.
There were just 2 entries in the support race (B’ race). Kenneth Mulvaney (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club) finished ahead of Alan Carroll (Clontarf Cycling Club).
The final race of the day was for the Senior men and the M40 men. On form Dean Harvey was expected to win the Senior men’s race but Darren Rafferty wasn’t going to let Dean have it easy. Darren clung on to Dean’s wheel for the whole race, actually taking over the lead at the end of lap 4 but Dean was the stronger rider at the finish. Darren was second. These two were in a race on their own as there was almost 6 minutes until third placed rider Kevin McCambridge (Un-Attached Ulster) crossed the line. Jamie Meehan (Spellman-Dublin Port) was fourth with Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) fifth.
The M40s race saw another great battle between Alan Bingham (Newry Wheelers CC) and Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club).
These two have met three other times in an M40 race this season with Glenn getting the win in all 3 encounters. At this event, however, it was Alan who took the win. Glenn had to settle for second. David O’Neill (Inspired Cycling) was third, Aaron Parks (Banbridge CC) was fourth and Stephen McKenna (Omagh Wheelers Cycling Club) was fifth. Alan Bingham won the overall series.
A huge thanks to Velocity Road Club for hosting the event and to James Wilson for all his work on the site. The national cyclo-cross championships take place over the weekend of 14/15 January 2023 at McCrystal’s Track in County Louth. The next race at CyclocrossNI in Portadown will be the charity event ‘Ride for Raymie’ which takes place on Sunday 22 January 2023.
Commissaires: Jim Adams, trainee Liz Roche and Martin Grimley
National Series table after 4 rounds here
Race report by Martin Grimley
James Wilson (Facebook) – here