Cycling: Carn Wheelers host final CX round at Cookstown

Joe McCrory in A race
Joe McCrory in A race

Carn Wheelers recently hosted the final round of the Ulster CX (cyclocross) series in Drum Manor Forest Park outside Cookstown, as with last year this CX round was the Ulster Championship race.

In its second year at Drum Manor, the course was shorter but flowed better, and was faster than the previous course.

Racing began at 10.30am with the youth support races.

It was the Under 6s who got proceedings underway. In this race Carn were represented by brother and sister Padrig and Eibhlin Doyle. Both enjoyed a great race with Padrig finishing in 2nd. The Under 8s who had four laps of the circuit, Eimer Skelly rode well in a tough race.

For the Under 10s and 12s the course was modified slightly each completing four and six laps respectively. Ryan Skelly took part for Carn in the under 10s finishing 3rd.

In the under 12s, Sarah Elder took 1st place, while in the boys race, Cathir Doyle took gold, while Niall Skelly came in 5th.

In the under 14s the club again tasted success with Emma Elder and Niamh Skelly taking 2nd and 3rd place.

Marc Heaney and Sean Bradley lined up in the under 16 race and acquitted themselves well with great finishes in a demanding race on a fast course.

In the MTB support race, the Mulholland brothers took their positions along side Eunan McAleese and Nigel Gibson. On approach to the finish line two riders tussled for 5th position, Carn Wheelers own Steven Mulholland along with Clive Caldwell of Caldwell Cycles Omagh.

Through the last turn Steven checked his shoulder to see Clive starting to make a pass on his opposite side, both men sprinted hard to the chequered flag with Clive taking it by half a wheel.

Darren finished his race well within the top 10 taking a well earned 9th position. Eunan finished strongly in 11th with Nigel taking 16th.

At 1pm the heavens opened just as the main event got underway, the men’s ‘A’ and woman’s Ulster championship races. The course through forest was very fast with long stretch’s of fire road broken up by technical sections woven between the trees to test competitors bike handling skills.

Series leader and national CX champion Roger Aiken of Banbridge CC was at the fore of a 32 man field. Chasing Aiken was East Antrim’s Glenn Kinning who struggled to close the gap. Lurking was junior rider David Montgomery.

On the opening lap Aiken was 19 seconds ahead of Montgomery, with Kinning a further 9 seconds back. The splits over the next few laps only increased for those chasing Aiken as he extended his lead to 59 seconds between laps 2 to 5.

With the Ulster title secured Aiken coasted for the remaining three laps, to avoid any misfortune with the defense of his national title on his mind.Ronan McLaughlin of An Post was fourth overall in the championship race, claiming a bronze Ulster Senior medal as North Down’s James McMaster rounded off the top 5.

With four riders competing, Carn’s goal was to claim the team prize. This aspiration suffered an early blow when Paddy Kelly was forced to retire early.

The remaining riders battled hard and finished well. Stephen Walsh took 18th, Joe McCrory 22nd and Johnny Taylor 25th. Phoenix CC claimed the team prize when Rory Maguire, John Bogues and Alex Donald crossed the line in 6th, 16th and 19th.

In the women’s race Mairead McGurk rode well in a race that included world XC racer Claire Oakley.

In the ‘B’ race Martin Bradley and Carl McWilliams lined up for the green and black both looking to finish the series on a high. Unfortunately Carl suffered a mechanical and was forced to retire.

Martin had a great race, staying in the mix throughout the 7-lap race eventually finishing in 6th place.The race was won by East Tyrone star Gary Jeffers, Sean Scullion from Island Wheelers and Lakeland CC’s Raymond Kerr took the other podium places.

With the days business closed all cyclists were able to enjoy hot soup and rolls, tea and coffee biscuits served up by Carn Wheelers catering volunteers.

Carn Wheelers wish to extend their sincere thanks to the Forestry Service for allowing the use of the venue and facilities at Drum Manor Forest Park. Thanks also to race organizer Cathal Doyle and the small army of club members who sacrificed their weekend to ensure this event went off without a hitch. Finally thanks to chief commissaire Maurice McAllisterand assistant commissaire Martin Grimley for making sure the event passed off incident free.

The next Ulster cyclo-cross race will be the National Championships which will be held on Sunday 12th January in Lady Dixon Park, hosted by Phoenix CC.

Results: Cyclo-cross A’ race- 1st Roger Aiken; 2nd Glenn Kinning; 3rd David Montgomery; Unplaced veteran- Jason Henry; Unplaced junior- Rory Maguire; Unplaced supervet- John Bogues. Cyclo-cross Females- 1st Claire Oakley; 2nd Lisa Millar; 3rd Shenna McKiverigan. Cyclo-cross B’ race- 1st Gary Jeffers; 2nd Sean Scullion; 3rd Raymond Kerr.

Ulster results: Ulster Senior Men- 1st Roger Aiken; 2nd Glenn Kinning; 3rd Ronan McLaughlin. Ulster Women- 1st Claire Oakley; 2nd Lisa Millar; 3rd Shenna McKiverigan. Ulster Juniors- 1st David Montgomery; 2nd Rory Maguire; 3rd Darnell Moore. Ulster Veterans- 1st Jason Henry; 2nd Des Woods; 3rd Sam Craig.