Ulster Cycling News

Ulster Top 5 at Sainsburys School Games.

The team.The Cycling Ulster team, who had won their first ever Sainsbury School Games cycling medal on day 1 of the 2013 event, continued their impressive performance on days 2 and 3 claiming five more medals and 5th place in the competition.

Day 2 saw the riders take to the open roads for the TT day in a challenging part of Yorkshire just outside Sheffield on roads the Tour de France will use next July.

The morning saw the riders tackle a hilly 2.5km individual TT.  The girls went first and each Ulster rider put in a time which was right to the top of the leader board as they finished.  But with some big hitters going off towards the end of the event some of their times slipped down the leader board a few places, except for one.  Ciara Doogan's time of 04:34.825 stood at the top of the leader board until the second last rider, Grace Garner touted as one of Team GB's next big stars, snatched the top spot.

Ciara held on to take the silver medal in the event and Ulster's second medal at the games.  Christine Russell put in a great performance to finish in 15th place only 17 seconds off the medals while Amy Harkin and Shenna McKiverigan put in strong rides against the best Britain has to offer and scored good points for Team Ulster.

The competition in the boy's event was intense with very small time gaps among the riders.  Declan Mulholland was Ulster's best placed rider when dust settled with an impressive 10th place, only 7 seconds off the medals and Cathal Clarke wasn't far behind him in 13th place only 8 seconds off the medals.  Ryan Orr and Aaron Swann also put in very strong rides to score good points for the team against the best of GB.

Amy warming upUlster Individual TT Placings.

2nd Ciara Doogan - sliver medal.
18th Christine Russell
37th Amy Harkin
44 Shenna McKiverigan



Cathal on the start line.Boys
10 Declan Mulholland
13 Cathal Clarke
21 Ryan Orr
30 Aaron Swan Ulster

Full results can be downloaded from the British Cycling website here.

In the afternoon the event was the team TT.  Each team had four rides who rode a demanding 12km course which had long drags, steep climbs, sharp descents, challenging road surfaces and tight corners.

This event is a real challenge for any rider as you have to use both your legs and your head to work as a team as best as you can.

The girls on the start line of the TTTAgain the girl's were off first and the Ulster team produced a strong performance to clock a time of 24:49.196 and take good points in eighth place.

The boy's rode in the final event of the day and some of the early teams put in very strong rides, but it was the latter teams who were to dominate the top of the leader board, including the Ulster team.

The four riders stuck together around the course and each rider gave it their all.  As they came across the line the clock stopped with a time of 19:34.638 which was good enough for second place and four silver medals, only 1.1 seconds off the gold.


The boys on the TTT podium

Day 3.

Shenna in the RR

Day 3 was road race day.  The girls were off  after the tandem race.  They raced around virtually the same circuit as the Team TT the previous day covering 40km in 8 laps which saw them climb 3000 feet, the equivalent of Mt Snowden.

The weather had threatened to be foul and so it proved, particularly on the back section of the course which was open to the gale force winds coming off the top of the Pennines and the famous cycling climbs of Holme Moss and Snake Pass.  With the weather and the extremely tough course the race was set to be a war of attrition, and so it proved to be.

From the first lap riders were struggling to keep the pace and towards the end of the race the large field of girls was split into many small groups of twos and threes, staying together as much for warmth as slipstreaming.  All the riders bravely fought on to gain as many points for their teams as they could.  Ciara Doogan again showed her strength by taking fourth in the race and gained many points for Ulster in the process.

Ryan in the RRThe boy's race followed the pattern of the girl's race with riders struggling from the first lap of their 11 (60km) with 5000ft of climbing, the equivalent of climbing Ben Nevis.

Declan Mulholland was the first to loose contact with the bunch due to a bike problem which unfortunately saw him effectively out of the race.

Ryan Orr fought bravely through the wind and rain to gain points for Ulster.

As the race split to pieces Cathal Clarke forged his way into the third group on the road and in the end took 18th place, while Aaron Swan got into the lead group and stayed there until the last lap when that group split to pieces too.

Ulster Girl's RR Results. Ulster Boy's RR Results.
4  Ciara Doogan 13 Aaron Swan
27 Christine Russell 18 Cathal Clarke
39 Shenna McKiverigan 42 Ryan Orr
47 Amy Harkin 43 Declan Mulholland

For full results of the road races on the British Cycling website please click here.

After all the points from all the events were calculated Ulster had taken 5th place in the final team rankings, an all time best.  A team had to be selected by the organisers to carry the flag for cycling at the closing ceremony and, so impressed by the performance, the organisers gave that honour to Ulster.  The riders drew lots and Shenna McKiverigan was the lucky rider who was given the honour.

Team manager Nicola Oldham said the following:

8 riders, 4 days, 5 races, 5 Silver Medals, 1 Bronze medal, 1 team and 1 event the Sainsbury School Games. What a weekend! Ulster cementing their position as the most improved team. This event is a fantastic stepping stone for talented young athletes, giving them the chance to experience just what it's like to be part of a major sporting event and it proved to be the ultimate test of mind, body and soul. I couldn't have asked for any more from the team - they gave it 110% and this showed in the results.  They where a pleasure to work with and a real credit to their parents, clubs and country. I would like to thank Gary McKeegan and Colin Hughes for all their help over the weekend. It was a great team effort.

Nicola Oldham., Team Manager.

Declan Mulholland, one of the riders, had this to say about the event:

Team Ulster's experience at the 2013 Sainsbury School games was a memorable experience in every aspect.  From the moment we first set foot in the athlete's village we could feel the serious attitude towards the competition and the effort that the athletes were prepared to put in.

Every member of the Cycling Ulster team put a hundred and ten percent into every competition no matter how tired they felt from the previous race, this effort really shone throughout the weekend. This effort brought not only the first ever Cycling Ulster School Games cycling medal, but also achieved an amazing tally of five silver medals and a bronze.  However, despite this brilliant achievement from an athletes point of view the experience of a competition of the sheer magnitude of the Sainsbury School Games was fantastic. On behalf of all the cyclists I would like to give a big thank you to Nicola Oldham, Gary McKeegan and Colin Hughes for the amount of patience and guidance they showed us throughout this incredible, once in a life time opportunity.

Declan Mulholland

Ulster team rider.

The team would also like to thank the David McCall Foundation for providing hoodies for the team.

Cycling Ulster would like to congratulate all the riders, Amy, Christine, Ciara, Shenna, Aaron, Cathal, Declan and Ryan, manager Nicola Oldham and coach Gary McKeegan for their success and thank them for representing Cycling Ulster so well against top quality riders.

Colin Hughes Youth Commission Officer


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