Round 2 of the 2017 Ulster Cross-country Mountain Bike Series took place on Sunday 9 April at Craigavon Watersports Centre and hosted by Apollo Cycling Team. This venue was supposedly the location of the first cross-country MTB race in Ireland. It is due for some large scale development which may or may not hamper any further races at this site. Many thanks to Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon City Council for the use of the site and thanks to the centre staff for their support.
The weather was cloudy but dry for most of the day with some spring heat when the sun made an appearance. Sign on took place in the council marquee with the race action a few hundred metres along the path. All races started on the tarmac path and finished in the same location on a wide grassy slope. Beside the finish line there was a gazebo in which a representative from Tesco had brought along a large platter of fruit for riders and spectators.
First race of the day was, as always, the Under 6s. They had a short lap to complete before crossing the line to receive their goodie bag. The Under 8s had their own course layout and had to complete a three lap race. Top 3 in the girls’ race was Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles),
Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) and Poppy Magee (Trail Demons CC) finishing in that order. In the boys’ race the top three were Caleb McGreevy (Apollo Cycling Team), Jamie Rockett (Ards CC) and Jamie Ervine (Apollo Cycling Team) in that order.
The Under 10s then lined up. They had 3 laps to complete of an extended course to the Under 8s. Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) continued his great season taking the win ahead of Curtis McKee (Maryland Wheelers) with Harry Hobbs (VC Glendale) third. In the girls’ race Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) had another strong ride to take the win ahead of Aisling Smyth and Sarah Sloan, both from the host club.
The Under 12s course was much longer and they had just two laps to complete. Travis Harkness (Carn Wheelers) and Adam Rafferty (Island Wheelers) had a great battle for first place with Travis taking the flag. Luke Murphy (Killarney Cycling Club) rounded off the podium with third, a great result after a long journey to the race. Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) had another dominant race taking the win ahead of Hannah Mullin (Trail Demons CC) with Keela Smyth (Apollo Cycling Team) finishing third.
After a short break for prize giving, course practice and refuelling the next races started at noon. Lined up on the bridge were the Under 16 boys, Under 14 boys, Senior 4 men, Senior 2 women, Under 16 girls and the single entry in the Under 14 girls – Eva Gordon (Carn Wheelers). They were taking on the full course with the Under 16 boys completing 5 laps, Senior 4 men and Under 16 girls – 4 laps, Senior 2 women – 3 laps, Under 14s – 3 laps. In the Under 16 boys race Lee Harvey (Kinning Cycles) was charging around setting one of the fastest laps of the day. He finished well clear of the great battle for second which was between Drew Armstrong (Team Mechmonkey Mixtape) and Adam McGarr (Biking.ie). Drew was looking strong until the last lap when Adam went ahead and took second place. There were just two entries in the Under 16 girls race with Niamh McKiverigan (Powerhouse Sport) pushing hard to stay ahead of Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers). There was another close battle in the Under 14 boys race with Dean Harvey (Kinning Cycles) just managing to hold off Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers) to the line. Scott Roberts (McConvey Cycles) finished a strong third especially after competing in a road race the day before. The women’s race was just a little short for the top end women with Angie Smyth (Apollo Cycling Team) taking the win ahead of Anne Duffy (Cuchulainn CC) with Sonia McIntyre (Orchard CC) finishing third. All three looked like they could have done another lap. There was an issue with some broken course tape in the Senior 4 men’s race which had several riders taking a wrong turn. Out front Sean McIntyre (Caldwell Cycles) was returning to form as he took a comfortable win ahead of Chris McAloran (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) with James McCusker (Orchard CC) third.
After another break for prize giving, course practice and refuelling the final races of the day took place at 2pm. Again they lined up on the bridge this time with the Senior 1 men at the front, followed by the Juniors and Senior 1 women. Behind them were the Senior 2 men then finally the Senior 3 men. With such a short lap time the Senior 1 men were given 8 laps to complete, 6 laps for the Senior 1 women, Juniors and Senior 2 men with the Senior 3 men getting 5 laps. First to appear was Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) who lead the Senior 1 men’s race from start to finish. He was chased by team mate Tomasz Michalski with Scott Maitland (Killinchy Cycling Club) finishing third. In the Senior 1 women’s race Marlena Drozdziok (Scott Eurocycles.com) continued her great season of cross-country racing finishing strongly ahead of Junior team mate Klaudia Bajolek. In the Junior men’s race Jack Murphy (Killarney Cycling Club) was rewarded for his long journey to the race as he took the win ahead of Craig McCarthy (McConvey Cycles) with David Culloty (Killarney Cycling Club) taking third. John Scott (Island Wheelers) lead the Senior 2 men’s race from start to finish with Clive Caldwell (VTT) on his own in second and Conor Campbell (Newry Wheelers CC) staying clear of the chasing pack to take third. In the Senior 3 men’s race local rider David Neill (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) took the win ahead of Nigel Gibson (Carn Wheelers) with Round 1 winner Johnny Comac (Square Wheels) finishing third.
Post race, the riders were able to enjoy some hot food from the vendor in the car park. Many thanks to all the hard working volunteers from Apollo CT for hosting today’s race and welcoming us to Craigavon. The next cross-country race will be Round 3 of the Xmtb Spring Series which takes place on Sunday 23 April 2017.
Series table after 2 rounds here
Commissaires: Martin Grimley, Gary Sheils
Report by Martin Grimley