Ulster Cycling News

Podiums for Banbridge riders at Castlewellan

Castlewellan Forest Park in County Down played hosted to Round 4 of the Ulster Cross-Country Mountain Bike Series. This event doubled up as the 5th and final round of the Irish National Points Series (NPS). Hosted by Banbridge Cycling Club under the guidance of event director William Mulligan, the team of volunteers had prepared a course which started in front of the castle and used the adjoining forest utilizing natural trails, fire roads and official trail centre trails. In the lead up to the race there had been a mixture of dry and wet days which made the natural trail sections quite slippery. The morning of the race also had rain with conditions drying up for the afternoon.

The youth races started in the forest with the first race of the day for the Under 6s. Fifteen riders lined up for 2 laps of a short course close to the lake. The top 3 riders were: Eoghan Sanders, Aoife Craig and Max Boyd but all riders in this 'fun' category received a medal.

The Under 8s were started half way up a fire road climb and had to complete 2 laps of their circuit. Darragh Saunders (Team Giant Dublin) took the win in the boys race with Conor Murphy (Zero Gravity) second and Harry Hobbs (VC Glendale) third. In the girls race Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) took a comfortable win ahead of Faith Robinson (Bray Wheelers) and Aisling Smyth (Apollo CT).

The Under 10s started at the end of the fire road with the climb looming up ahead of them. They had to complete 3 laps of their circuit. As usual there was a close battle between the Island Wheelers trio with Oisin Ferrity taking the win ahead of Shane Scullion and Adam Rafferty making for a full podium for the Wheelers. In the girls race Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) continues to dominate finishing well up about the boys. Hannah Mullin (Trail Demons CC) was second with Clodagh Doherty (VC Glendale) third.

The Under 12s started from the same location as the Under 10s and had the same number of laps, but they had their own circuit including the 'bomb hole'. Dean Harvey (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) took the win in the boys' race ahead of Brendan Conroy (Epic MTB / Expert Cycles) with Ryan Skelly (Carn Wheelers) third. In the girls' race Katie Neill (Carn Wheelers) finished well clear of Cara McKee (VC Glendale) and Lauren Hanna (Apollo CT).

The racing then moved out to the open grass ahead in front of the castle. The 12 noon races were delayed as the course had to be changed in one place at the top of the hill as a wasp's nest had been disturbed with some of the angry wasps stinging some of the riders out practicing the course. The races got underway around 12:30 and consisted of the Under 16s, Under 14s, Senior 4 men and Senior 3 women in that order. All categories had to complete 2 laps with the Under 14s using a shorter version of the main course. All races started down on the level ground near the lake before heading up through the start/finish across the front of the castle, down a series of stone steps and then into the main course. The Under 14s race saw a great battle between Adam McGarr (IMBRC) and Drew Armstrong (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) with Drew on Adam's wheel right up to the final corner before the finishing straight. Drew tried to take Adam on the inside line but the wet conditions had made the grass slippy and he crashed leaving Adam to take the win. Drew had plenty of time to pick himself up to cross the line before Lee Harvey (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) came home to take third place. In the girls' race Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers) finished ahead of Summer McGibbon (Trail Demons CC) who had unfortuately gone off-course and lost a lot of time.

In the Under 16s race John Buller (Banbridge CC) finished well clear of his nearest rival Adam Duff (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) who in turn finished well clear of third place Thomas Creighton (Xmtb McConvey Cycles). Niall Brown (Ards CC) finished well ahead of his nearest rival in the Senior 4 men's race proving that he will have no problem with the Senior 3 men's race now that he is automatically upgraded. Second place went to Campbell Stewart with Winston Johnston third, both riders from Maryland Wheelers. In the Senior 3 women's race Niamh McGreen (MAD MTB) finished strongly ahead of Ruth Aiken (Banbridge CC) who moved up from third to second ahead of Janice Hepburn (Island Wheelers).

The next set of races started just after 2 pm in drier conditions. First away were the Senior 1 men who had 5 laps to complete. Behind them the Juniors, Senior 1 women and Senior 2 men who all had 4 laps to complete. The Senior 3 men and Senior 2 women had 3 laps to complete.

There was only two entries in the Senior 2 woman's race with early leader Shannon Buller (Banbridge CC) losing out to Erica Grant (Epic MTB / Expert Cycles). In the Senior 3 men's race, Anthony Finn (Killarney Cycling Club) crossed the line first ahead of David Broome (Dromara Cycling Club) with Nigel Glynn (Naas Cycling Club) completing the podium.

Gavin O'Connell (Team Worc) finished over 4 minutes ahead of Brendan Doherty (VC Glendale) in the Senior 2 race. Damian Duggan (ChainReaction Cycles) made his way up to third on his final lap. In the Junior race James Curry (Banbridge CC) lead from start to finish as he caught up with the Senior 1 men. Sean Bradley (Carn Wheelers) was going well until he punctured. Peter Davison (Dromara Cycling Club) finished second with Richard Baird (Banbridge CC) third. Ciara MacManus was the only Senior 1 women to finish the race after Claire Oakley (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) pulled out on her first lap.

Gareth McKee (Banbridge CC) stormed the Senior 1 race with a massive gap over his fellow competitors from lap one onwards. The big race of the day was for second place with Lindsay Watson (Plush MTB) holding this position for 3 laps with Daniel Brickenden (Epic MTB/Expert Cycles) and Graham Boyd (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) fighting over third. By lap 4 Daniel had moved up to second with Lindsay dropping to third. On the final lap Graham and Daniel came into the field together with Graham on Daniel's wheel. As they rounded the final corner towards the climb for the finish line Daniel went wide while Graham surged up the inside to finish a bike length clear of Daniel to secure second and third respectively. Lindsay finished fourth with Sean Feeney(Scott Donnybrook Landscape Co) fifth.

Many thanks to the hardworking team at Banbridge Cycling Club for putting on the event. This concludes the NPS series however, the Ulster series has one more event to go which will take place on Sunday 6 September 2015 at Craigavon Lakes. The Ulster MTB Championships are taking place on Sunday 23 August 2015 at Colebrooke Estate in Fermanagh. More details on www.ulsterxc.com

Commissaire: Martin Grimley

Full results here

David McVeigh, Belgium Project - (FlickR) - here
Steven Lindsay - (Google) - here

Report by Martin Grimley

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