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Ulster Cyclo Cross

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Date: Sunday 12 April 2015
Event: Ulster Series Round 2
Location: Colebrooke Estate, Co. Fermanagh
Host club: Caldwell Cycles

Caldwell Cycles's usual venue of Ballykelly Forest was unavailable this year due to tree felling which left event organiser Clive Caldwell the task of finding another venue to host a cross-country mountain bike event.  Thankfully Lord Alan Brookeborough of Colebrooke Estate in Brookeborough County Fermanagh was happy to accommodate another race on his estate using more or less the same course as Lakeland CC had back in January of this year.  Despite being April the morning of the race felt like winter again with a big drop in the temperatures we had in the week leading up to the race.  The reading was 1oC with snow around 8:30 am which turned to rain around 9:00 am.  However, by 10:00 am the sun had come out and the estate was bathed in spring sunshine and the temperature moved back up to double figures.  The wild deer on the estate were out to greet the cars arriving from across Ulster to this second round of the Ulster Cross-country series.  Sign on took place inside the large shed which contained a toilet block, electrical points, catering area and enough room to hold the skills competition indoors for the Under 14s and Under 16s.

The youth races were started in the trees on the hill above the sign on area.  The Under 6s got underway with their two lap race on their specific course.  Max Boyd (Apollo CT) took the win ahead of Jenson Alexander (Lakeland CC) with Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) third.  The Under 8s and Under 10s had their own course with separate races for each age category, 2 laps for the Under 8s and 5 for the Under 10s.  In the Under 8 boys race Harry Hobbs (VC Glendale) was leading until his chain came off and he lost the lead to Calum Hepburn (Island Wheelers), with Curtis McKee (Maryland Wheelers) taking another third place.  In the U8 girls race Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) continues to dominate this age category finishing well over a minute ahead of Beth Campbell (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) with Caitlin Hanna (Apollo CT) in third.  In the Under 10 boys race riders from Island Wheelers took all 3 podium spots with Shane Scullion first, Oisin Ferrity second and Adam Rafferty third.  In the U10 girls race riders from VC Glendale took all 3 podium spots with Aine Doherty first, Clodagh Doherty second and Lily Brown third.

The Under 12s had an extended coursed to the Under 8/10s and had to complete 5 laps.  It was a very close battle in the boys race between Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers) and Dean Harvey (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) with Darren leading until the final corner when Dean snuck past to take the win.  Scott Roberts took third.  In the girls U12 race Katie Neill (Carn Wheelers) and Lauren Hanna (Apollo CT) were never far apart but it finished in this order with Eva Gordon (Carn Wheelers) taking third.

The race starts then moved back down the hill to the road for the Under 16s, Under 14s, Senior 4 men and Senior 3 women.  The Under 14s had their own course which they had to do 3 laps of with the other categories having to complete 2 laps of the full course of just over 3 miles.  Conditions were very muddy and slippery from the overnight rain but the riders seemed to be relishing the challenge.  In the Under 16 males race Adam Duff (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) continues to impress with a great win ahead of John Buller (Banbridge CC) with Thomas Creighton (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) taking third.  In the U16 females race Niamh Skelly (Carn Wheelers) was the only finisher with club mate Emma Elder suffering a puncture.  In the Under 14 males race Drew Armstrong (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) took the win ahead of Lee Harvey, also from Xmtb, with Mark Buller (Banbridge CC) taking third.  In the U14 females race Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers) was no match for her stronger club mate Sarah Elder.  In the Senior 4 men's race Johnny Comac (Square Wheels CC) took a comfortable win which moves him up into Senior 3 for the rest of the season.  Geoff Maitland (Killinchy CC) finished second with Kieron Egerton (Omagh Wheelers) taking third.  In the Senior 3 women's race Janice Hepburn (Island Wheelers) took the top step on the podium ahead of Hilary Henderson (Phoenix CC).

The final set of races for the day started at 2 pm.  Senior 1 men had 5 laps to do, Juniors, Senior 1 women and Senior 2 men had 4 laps, Senior 3 men and Senior 2 women had 3 laps of the full course to complete.  Gareth McKee (Banbridge CC) was on a real charge in the Senior 1 men's race until a puncture slowed him down on lap 3 and he had to walk back to the finish to get a spare wheel.  This left him 6th in this category but he managed to hunt down two of the other riders to finish 4th overall.  Meanwhile at the front of the race Graham Boyd (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) had to keep his focus to remain ahead of Lindsay Watson (PlushMTB) to finish 1st and 2nd overall with Tomasz Michalski (Xmtb MCConvey Cycles) finishing off the podium.  Claire Oakley (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) was the only entrant in the Senior 1 women's race but had to retire half way through her 4 laps.  In the Junior race James Curry (Banbridge CC) was putting in lap times that would have seen him compete highly in the Senior 1 men's race to finish well ahead of Calvin Moore (Caldwell Cycles). 

In the Senior 2 men's race there was close competition between Raymond Kerr (Lakeland CC) and Mark Harvey (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) with only seconds between them the whole race as Raymond took the win.  Damien Duggan (ChainReaction Cycles) was third with Thomas Hepburn (Island Wheelers) fourth.  In the Senior 3 men's race Aaron Parks took the win ahead of Tomas McElwee (Carn Wheelers) with Scott Maitland (Killinchy CC) taking the final place on the podium.  In the Senior 2 women's race junior rider Shannon Buller (Banbridge CC) finished well ahead of Lisa Millar (Dromara Cycling Club).

Once the races were over the riders were able to enjoy a great spread of food laid on by the club inside the large shed with seating and a blow heater on, it made for a very comfortable finish to the day.  Many thanks to the hardworking volunteers from Caldwell Cycles for running the event and to the landowner for the use of the estate.  The next Ulster round will take place on 31 May 2015 at Lady Dixon Park in Belfast.  The Irish cross-country National Point Series (NPS) begins on Sunday 19 April 2015 at Djouce Woods, County Wicklow.  For more details about the NPS click here.

Commissaire: Martin Grimley

Full results here

Photographs
Steven Lindsay (Facebook) here
Eymard Brennan (Facebook) here
Paul Warriner (Facebook) here

Report by Martin Grimley