National CX Series 2023 Round 5 – report

The fifth round of the 2023 National Cyclo-cross Series took place on Saturday 30 December 2023 at the McCrystal Track in Jenkinstown, County Louth. Track owner Bryan McCrystal continues to develop this site and experiment with race direction. For this race the riders passed the finish hut from right to left. The biggest challenge for the riders was the weather. As expected, given the time of year, there had been a lot of rain in the lead up to the race including a storm (Gerrit). Race morning saw heavy rain and wind which made for challenging driving conditions. The forecast had said that the rain would pass by 11 am and the forecast was correct. While the Under 12s were racing the wind dropped, the rain stopped and the clouds started to part allowing the sun through to light up the track. Missing from the event was our usual race commentator Paul Joyce who is having a well earned vacation state side.

The first race of the day was for the Under 6s. There were just 3 riders who raced around the short triangle course near the main start/finish area.

The Under 8s were the first to use the main start area with the grid lines. They had 2 laps to complete. Making his first appearance in the national series this year was Bobby Campbell (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) who took the win in the boys’ race. James Kavanagh (Lakeland) finished second with Evan McTavish (Western Lakes CC) third. Ríonach Campbell (Square Wheels) won the girls’ race. Marian Mulvaney (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club) was second with twins Ava Mowbray (Belfast City BMX Club) and Sally Mowbray (Belfast City BMX Club) finishing third and fourth respectively.

The Under 10s then lined up for their race. There was some confusion in this race as the riders were meant to turn left at the end of the gravel straight but instead all headed up the steep grass climb. A big test for these young riders. This was rectified before they came round for lap 2 hence the difference in the lap times on the results sheet. As expected it was Benjamin Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) who crossed the line first winning the boys’ race. Lewis Bell (Lisburn BMX Club) was second with Jaxon Jennings (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) third. Caroline Collins (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club) won the girls’ race with Molly Turner (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) second and Ruby Millar (Square Wheels) third.

The Under 12s did have to race up the grass hill, in fact they had to do this 5 times. Just before the start of their race there was another heavy burst of rain then the rains passed. In the boys’ race Daragh Quigley (Foyle CC) took over the lead on lap two and held it to the finish. Jack McGahan (Square Wheels) was second with a sprint finish between William Hance (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) and Diarmuid O’Sullivan (Greenmount CA) for third place. In the girls’ race Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) took the win, finishing just behind Jack McGahan. Lilly McDermott (TC Racing) was second.

Next up was the races for Under 14s, Under 16s and Women. They used the full track. The Women had 5 laps to complete, the Under 16 boys had 4 laps and the rest had 3 laps to do. In the Under 14 boys’ race James Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) got the win ahead of Eoin Davis (Bohermeen CC) with Josh McClune (Team Madigan C.C.) completing the podium in third place. Kieran Mulvaney (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club) finished fourth and remains at the top of the series table. Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) won the Under 14 girls’ race. Katie Turner (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) was second keeping her at the top of the series table. Ava Baker (Breffni Wheelers) was third.

In the Under 16 boys’ race it was Curtis McKee who took the win in his new team colours for Spellman-Dublin Port. James Armstrong (VC Glendale) was second which put him to the top of the series table. Caleb McGreevy (VC Glendale) was third, Rian McCrystal (Bellurgan Wheelers) fourth and Hugh Og Mulhearne (Verge Sport PI Cycles) fifth. Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) won the Under 16 girls’ race. Mia Geary (Fermoy Cycling Club) was second with Cara Suckling (VC Glendale) third.

In the Women’s race it was Junior rider Aliyah Rafferty who took the win. Aliyah was sporting her new team colours – Tofauti Everyone Active. Second place went to another Junior rider, Greta Lawless (Team WORC). Doireann Killeen (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) overtook Caoimhe May (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) to take third as Caoimhe was having some mechanical issues resulting in her running with the bike for long sections of the course. Elena Wallace (Harps CC) finished fifth and was third senior. Jean Wilson (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club), Hazel Murphy (Yellow Furze Road Club) and Emma Convey (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles) picked up the top 3 places for the Women’s Masters podium.

The next race lining up was for the Junior men, M50s, M60s and support race. The Juniors had 4 laps to complete, the support race had 3 laps with the M50s and M60s completing 5 laps.

In the Junior race Joseph Mullen, riding for his new team (Zappi Racing Team), took the win. David Gaffney also with a new team – Villeneuve Cycliste, finished second and continues to lead the overall series. Michael Collins (Newcastle West Cycling Club) finished third. The M50s race saw a close early battle between Alan Bingham (Inspired Cycling), Colm McGarvey (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles), Declan McEntee (Emyvale CC) and Jason Henry (Inspired Cycling). Jason Henry managed to get himself to the front of this bunch and kept the others behind him to the line. Declan McEntree crossed the line in second place with Colm McGarvey third and Alan Bingham fourth. Fearghal Regan (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) finished fifth and continues to lead the series.

In the M60s race it was the current World Champion (65+), Johnny McCabe (Cuchulainn CC) who took the win. This was his fifth win from 5 rounds which no one else has achieved in any other category this season. Paul Birchall (Verge Sport PI Cycles) was second with Lloyd Moore (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) third. In the support race, which is meant for non-cyclo-cross bikes, Keith Colville (Panduit Carrick Wheelers) surprised himself with a win. Brendan Hennessy (Midleton CTC) was second with Kevin Ryan (Gorey Cycling Club) third.

The final race of the day was for the Seniors and M40s. The sun had disappeared behind the clouds again and it was getting cold standing around. In the Senior men’s race Kevin McCambridge (Trinity Racing), the current Ulster champion, took the win over 6 laps. Tadhg Killeen (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) was second putting him at the top of the national series table. Sean O’Leary (Lucan Cycling Road Club) was third, Ian O’Connell (Team WORC) fourth and Eoghan McGuigan (Dromara Cycling Club) fifth. In the M40s race Ronan O’Flynn (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) took the chequered flag. Marcus Flavin (Dungarvan CC) was second keeping him at the top of the series table. Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) worked his way up from fifth place to finish third. Barry Convery (Newry Wheelers CC) was fourth with Evan Ryan (Team WORC) fifth.

A massive thanks to Bryan McCrystal, Bellurgan Wheelers and to his squad of helpers from other clubs who pull together to run this event at this excellent facility. Thanks to the sponsors and to the photographers. Round 6 will be held at a new venue in Kilgobbin, Stepaside in County Dublin hosted by Team WORC on Sunday 7 January 2024. Also to note, the entries for the National Cyclo-cross Championships will close on Sunday 7 January 2024. The nationals are being held at Limerick Racecourse, Greenmount Park, Patrickswell, Co.Limerick by Greenmount Cycling Academy over the weekend of 13-14 January 2024.

Commissaires: Ronan Fox, Jim Adams, Liz Roche, Martin Grimley

Results here

Series table after five rounds here

Report by Martin Grimley

Cycling Ireland (Facebook) – here and here
Toby Watson (Facebook) – here
The Belgian Project (Facebook) – here