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Ulster Cyclo Cross

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Date: Sunday 31 May 2015
Event: Ulster Series Round 3
Location: Lady Dixon Park, Belfast
Host club: Xmtb McConvey Cycles

It was a return to Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in Belfast for Round 3 of the Ulster Cross-country Mountain Bike Series 2015.  Host club Xmtb McConvey Cycles has been running an off-road cycle race in the park since 2009 and has built up a great knowledge of the park and a great relationship with the park wardens.  Many thanks to Belfast City Council for continuing to support the event.  The run up to race day had seen a mixture of weather with heavy rain some of the days with overcast conditions and fairly mild all week.  This had provided added work for the course builders for their development of the track.  This year the course designers had reversed the direction of parts of the course for all race categories.  

The morning of the race was dry but cool with very windy conditions which played havoc with the gazebos exposed on the open grass area of the park overlooking the rose gardens.  Sign on opened at 9:30 with the first race underway at 10:30.  This was for the Under 6s.  A short fun loop around the trees for the big gathering of 23 young riders.  There were plenty of parents providing encouragement for the riders, some with pedals some without, as they completed their 2 laps.  Crossing the line first was Niall Coleman with Emer Heverin (Castlereagh CC) second and Sam Banford third.  All the riders got a medal and goodie bag for taking part and hopefully they enjoyed their day.

The Under 8s then lined up in the start zone for their 2 lap race.  There were 23 boys and 13 girls in this race, starting separately by race organiser Mark Harvey.  Calum Hepburn (Island Wheeler) took with win with Harry Hobbs (VC Glendale) second and Oisin May third.  In the girls race Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) crossed the line first ahead of Gracie Maitland (Killinchy CC) and Beth Campbell (Xmtb McConvey Cycles).

The Under 10s race was based on the same course but the riders had to do 5 laps instead of 2.  There was another big showing in this category with 15 boys and 11 girls lined up.  In the boys race it was another full podium for Island Wheelers with Oisin Ferrity on the top step, Adam Rafferty second and Shane Scullion third.  In the girls race Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) is still in a league of her own finishing well up among the boys and well clear of Clodagh Doherty (VC Glendale) who had another strong second place finish.  Cara Moffitt (Phoenix CC) finished third but with a mix up in the race timing she didn't get her medal on the day as it was incorrectly given to Sophie Osbourne (VC Glendale) who finished fourth.

The Under 12s had their own course to tackle for 3 laps.  In the boys race there was a very close finish between Dean Harvey (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) and Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers) with a sprint to the line, narrowly avoiding a lapped rider.  Dean took the win just ahead of Darren.  Scott Roberts (Island Wheelers) took another excellent third spot.  In the girls race Caoimhe May finished well clear of Katie Neill (Carn Wheelers) and Cara McKee (VC Glendale).  

At 12 noon the Under 16s, Under 14s, Senior 4 men and Senior 3 women lined up for their races.  All categories were doing two laps with the Under 14s having a reduced lap to match their time targets for the race.  In the Under 14s race Drew Armstrong from the host club finished well clear of fellow club member Lee Harvey with Mark Buller (Banbridge CC) taking third.  In the girls race Sarah Elder (Carn Wheelers) took the win ahead of Ellie Kelso (East Tyrone CC) and Summer McGibbon (Trail Demons CC).  In the Under 16s race Thomas Creighton from the host club was almost a minute ahead of fellow club rider Adam Duff with John Buller (Banbridge CC) a minute behind Adam.  In the girls race Niamh Skelly (Carn Wheelers) had a comfortable win over Emma Elder (Carn Wheelers) with Dáire McCartan (VC Glendale) completing the podium.  There were some issues in the Senior 4 men's race with tape blowing down due to the strong gusts of wind.  Completing the course first was Camron Burns (Trail Demons CC) with Robert Millar and Stuart Suckling, both from Maryland Wheelers taking second and third respectively.  In the Senior 3 woman's race, Janice Hepburn (Island Wheelers) took another win with Una May second and Carole McCombe (Omagh Wheelers) third.

At 2 pm the final races of the day got lined up. First off were the Senior 1 men who had to do 5 laps, followed 30 seconds later by the Junior men who had to complete 4 laps.  With an absence of Senior 1 women the next group that started were the Senior 2 men who also had to complete 4 laps.  The Senior 3 men had 3 laps to complete as had the only Senior 2 female Hannah Ormesher (DID Electrical Racing Team).  In the Senior 1 men's race Gareth McKee (Banbridge CC) took the early lead but Lindsay Watson (Plush MTB) and Graham Boyd from the host club caught up and passed Gareth to finish the podium with Lindsay on top, Graham second and Gareth third.  In the Junior race James Curry (Banbridge CC) continued his fantastic run of form to put in some great lap times finishing well clear of Peter Davison (Dromara CC).  In the Senior 2 men's race Brendan Doherty (VC Glendale) lead from start to finish staying well clear of Raymond Kerr (Lakeland CC) who had a close battle with Sean Scullion (Island Wheelers) with just 2 seconds separating these two.  In the Senior 3 men's race Scott Mailtand (Killinchy) dominated this category taking an impressive win ahead of the rising star, Nathan Sturrock (Banbridge CC) with Aaron Parks taking third.

Once the races were over the riders were able to enjoy a great spread of food laid on by the club.  Many thanks to the hardworking volunteers from Xmtb McConvey Cycles for running the event and to Belfast City Council for the use of the park.  The third round of the Irish cross-country National Point Series (NPS) takes place next Sunday 7 June 2015 at Glenalough house, County Wicklow.  For more details about the NPS click here.

Commissaire: Martin Grimley

Full results here

Photographs
Steven Lindsay - Facebook - here
Michael Armstrong - FlickR - here
Paul Anderson - Facebook - here


Video
Under 8s race here


Report by Martin Grimley