Ulster Cycling News
9May/080

MTB Juniors In Europe

This weekend Cycling Ulster’s top Junior MTB riders will be in action on two fronts in Europe. Irish Junior DH Champion Ewan Doherty (Wheelbase/Wiki Wheels) rides in the opening round of the UCI Nissan DH World Cup, while Irish Junior XC Champion Liam McGreevy (Banbridge CC) will be joined by Neil McGimpsey (XMTB) at a UCI C2 race in Belgium, one week before the pair ride in the European MTB XC Championships.

Maribor in Slovenia is the venue for the DH World Cup opener, with Ewan joining a large contingent of Irish riders in the entry which includes Irish Elite Champion Ben Reid and Ewan’s main Irish Junior rival Seanan O’Riordan.

Liam and Neil ride as part of the Irish XC Team at the GP Van Vlaanderen in Ronse in Belgium, a round of the Benelux Cup. The Ulster pair will be joined by fellow Irish Junior rider Paul O’Reilly (IMBRC) and senior riders Conor McConvey (McConvey Cycles) and Niall Davis (IMBRC).

Cycling Ulster wishes the trio all the best on their Euro adventures.

Cycling Ulster’s MTB reporter Andy Potts caught up with the trio of riders before they left, here is what they had to say:

Ewan
AP: Where will you be going on your travels during the next week? What event(s) will you be competing in?
Ewan: I'm off to Maribor in Slovenia for the first round of the DH World Cup with Stevo Beattie and Dan Wolfe. It's a bit of a camel trek having to fly from Belfast to London and then onto Ljubljana followed by a scenic 108 mile drive to our hotel!
AP: How has your year gone so far? What if any has been the highpoint of the season so far?
Ewan: The season started on a bit of a downer with a broken wrist I got practicing for the Chain Reaction Cycles Winter Series, but since then it's been good. My Maxxis Cup result in Portugal could have been better (stay on the bike Ewan) but two wins out of two in the Irish NPS and a win in the Scottish NPS has been a real boost to my confidence. The win in Scotland being an absolute high point so far. Taking part in the recent K-Capital Cup has also helped my fitness levels and that’s something I intend to do more of on any DH free weekends.
AP: Have you ridden for the Irish Team before? Where was this and what was it like riding in a major international event.
Ewan: I got picked for the Irish DH squad for the 2006 European Championships in Val di Sole, Italy, but wasn't allowed to ride as I was too young! In 2007 I was again picked for the team and rode in both the European Championships in Greece and the World Championships in Scotland. The atmosphere was something else and it was a bit unreal rubbing shoulders with the Worlds best riders. I also rode in Irish colours at a few World Cup events last year in Schladming, Austria and this helped me acclimatize to what was to come at the Championship events.
AP: When did you start mountain biking, can you remember your first race?
Ewan: I started mountainbiking about 3 years ago and my first race was at Ballycarton in the 2005 Winter Series on a hard tail, not the ideal bike for Ballycarton. It only lasted about two races before the frame cracked! It's unforgettable partly due to the look of horror on my Mum and Dads faces when they saw what I was doing.
AP: How do you relax before a major event? Have you favourite music to listen to? Have you a mtb hero, mmmmm, Andy Godfrey perhaps?
Ewan: I usually have my i pod in and I sing along to whatever’s on it. House, techno, drum and base are my usual tunes although no one in particular. Don't have an MTB hero but I admire riders like Sam Blenkensop and Sam Hill.
AP: Will you be riding in any other international events this year....what is your main target for the year?
Ewan: I've a fairly full race calender this year and apart from the Irish NPS rounds and Champs I'll be competing in at least 3 of the British NPS rounds a few more Scottish NPS rounds as well as World Cup events in Maribor, Andorra and Schladming, Austria. My main target this year is the World Championships in Italy in June. Hopefully my results are good enough for Irish Team selection and if they are I'll be totally focusing on getting it right for this event. It's a very difficult course but I hope that my recent form will continue and that I peak just at the right time.

Liam
AP: Where will you be going on your travels during the next week? What event(s) will you be competing in?

Liam: Next week the Irish XC team will be heading over to the Sean Kelly house for three days. There we will be competing in a C2 International race. After racing in Belgium we will travel (approx 3hr drive) to St Wendel in Germany for the European XC Championships.

AP: How has your year gone so far? What if any has been the highpoint of the season to date?

Liam: My season has gone according to plan so far. I had a reasonable k-Capital Cup, though I had the disappointment of crashing out of round 3. Catching the elite riders in the other rounds was pretty encouraging! Two weeks ago in Ballinastoe, I rode my 1st Elite race in order to try and get used to a longer race, this went pretty well despite having fork trouble. I was well pleased at finishing third.

AP: Have you ridden for the Irish Team before? What was it like riding in a major international event?

Liam: I rode for the Ireland team at both the Worlds and B.C.F NPS rounds last year. In the last round of the BCF NPS last September, I was in third place but retired after puncturing. The Worlds were a pretty big step up from the usual races over here. I finished 57th last year and hope to build on this in the coming season. Also, starting at the back of the grid with 100ish riders didn’t help and getting involved in a few pile-ups made the race all the more of a challenge. As Ireland sent a team last year (in 2006 the Irish XC Team missed the Worlds due to the expense of traveling to New Zealand) hopefully we will be better grided this time at the World Championships!

AP: When did you start mountain biking, can you remember your first race?

Liam: I started Mountain Biking with Banbridge CC at their Monday night Youth sessions. My 1st race was in Drumkeeragh Forest when I was riding as a 2nd year U14...! I though this was an awesome experience and I pretty much caught the mtb bug then. In the last 2 of years I have taken things a bit more serious in terms of racing. I was really pleased to win the Irish Junior title last year.

AP: How do you relax before a major event? Have you favourite music to listen to? Have you an mtb hero; Wild Willy Mulligan perhaps?
Liam: I find it hard to relax before a major event as I worry about all the things that could go wrong. I try to relax between frequent trips to the bogs and listening to Horse it into ya Cynthia...! (Apparently). I would like it put on record that I definitely do not like Abba!!! My ultimate mtb hero has to be Julian Absalom, watching him win the worlds at Fort William was nuts, the atmosphere was electric. Maybe not heroes, they are too old, but William and the Pfunkychicken have done so much for me the past few years.

AP: Will you be riding in any other international events this year....what is your main target for the year?

Liam: I will also be competing in two UCI C2 International races in Milan as preparation for the ‘worlds’. My main goal will be the worlds in Val de Sole, Italy in June. Another goal would be to defend my Irish Junior title and to perform well in the rounds of the BCF series that I am able to ride in.

Neil
AP: Where will you be going on your travels during the next week? What event(s) will you be competing in?

Neil: I will be going to Belgium to compete in the Benelux Cup and to St Wendel in Germany to compete in the European championships.

AP: How has your year gone so far? What if any has been the highpoint of the season so far?

Neil: This Year has been alright, a lot better than last year as I have finished in the top 3 in each race. The one exception being the opening round of the British NPS in Thetford where I got a puncture when lying in the top 5. The high point of my season so far has been winning round 3 of the K Capital Cup at Djouce Woods.

AP: Have you ridden for the Irish Team before? If yes- where was this and what was it like riding in a major international event.

Neil: No I have never ridden for the Irish Team before however I have ridden internationally in France which was class because of the course and competing with over 200 other riders. I have also raced in England over the last few seasons for the Cycling Ulster Squad.

AP: When did you start mountain biking, can you remember your first race?

Neil: I started mountain biking when I was seven years old my first race was in Bangor Castle Park where lots of young riders have also started their racing.

AP: How do you relax before a major event? Have you favourite music to listen to?

Neil: I relax by listening to music, no favourites, I just like something that will keep me motivated. I also talk more than usual to help stay relaxed.

AP: Will you be riding in any other international events this year....what is your main target for the year?

Neil: Hopefully I will be riding in a few more international races this year, I would like to go to the worlds, but it really depends on how I am performing. My target for this year would be to get a good position in the Europeans and the Worlds and to win the Irish National Junior XC Championship.

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