Round 1 of the Irish Cross-country National Point Series (NPS) took place on Saturday 30 April 2022 at the Leadmines in Newtownards, County Down. Hosted by Ards Cycling Club, this site has had a lot of mountain bike history with last national race being run here in September 2005. The host club did run a Winter Classic back in December 2021 which was a preparation race for this event. The event did attract over 200 entries from all across Ireland. The riders faced damp conditions on the day with overcast skies and intermittent showers.
The day kicked off with the Under 6s who had to complete one short lap. The Under 8s, 10s and 12s all shared the same circuit – the Under 8s completing two laps, the Under 10s six laps and the Under 12s ten laps.
Taking the win in the Under 8 boys’ race was Elijah McClintock (Lisburn BMX Club). Logan McAreavey (Cuchulainn CC) finished second with Aleksander Michalski (Un-Attached Leinster) crossing the line in third place. In the girls’ race the podium was filled with riders from Square Wheels with Ruby Millar taking the top step, Ríonach Campbell second and Ciara McCool third.
The Under 10 boys’ race was won by Ewan Ewart (Belfast City BMX Club) with William Sunderland (Lisburn BMX Club) second and Jake McKee (VC Glendale) third. Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) won the girls’ race with a super performance that had her cross the line just behind the top 3 boys. Emily McClintock (Lisburn BMX Club) finished second with Emily Acheson (Strabane Lifford Cycling Club) taking the final place on the podium.
The Under 12s race saw an exciting battle between Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels) and Darragh Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club). The two riders raced wheel to wheel until lap 9 when Eunan managed to pull away to take the win. Darragh finished second with Adam Tansey (Yeats Country Cycling Club) taking third. In the girls’ race Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) showed great strength to compete among the top boys which kept her well clear of her nearest rivals. Carmen Buchowicz (Team Caldwell Cycles) finished second with Skye Spence (Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club) taking third.
At noon the Under 14s, Under 16s, Senior 4 men, Senior 2 women and Senior 3 women began their races. The Under 14s and Senior 3 women used a reduced track with the other categories using the full track. As expected Curtis McKee (Scott Bright Motor Group) powered round the Under 14s course to take a comforable win in the boys’ race. Ryan Daly (Scott Bright Motor Group) finished second with Caleb McGreevy (Apollo Cycling Team) taking third. Cara Suckling (VC Glendale) finished over 4 minutes ahead of Lacey Aicken-Johnson (North Down CC) in the Under 14 girls’ race with Eabha Hughes (Un-Attached Ulster) taking third place on the podium.
Cameron Henry (Inspired Cycling) was the early leader in the Under 16 boys’ race but dropped back to 4th at the finish. Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) took the win ahead of Oisin May (Scott Bright Motor Group) with Ryan McCarthy (Verge Sport PI Cycles) finishing third. There were only two entries in the Under 16 girls’ race with Greta Lawless (Team WORC) finishing well ahead of Faith Robinson (Bray Wheelers).
There was also only two entries for the Senior 3 women’s race with Catriona Wheeler (Glens CC) taking the win ahead of Kelly Robinson (Unattached). Caroline Martinez (Chain Reaction Cycles), who is the cross-country rep on the Cycling Ireland Off-road Commission, has been working hard in the background on the series and on her own training. Caroline took the win in the Senior 2 women’s race finishing ahead of Ciara Nolan (Team Giant Dublin) and Aishling O’Connor (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club). In the Senior 4 men’s race Robert Smyth (Apollo Cycling Team) was declared the winner with Alex Bell (Unattached) second and Paul Beattie (Unattached) third.
At 2 pm the races for Senior 1, 2 and 3 men, Junior men and Senior 1 women took place. There was a close battle in the Senior 1 men’s race between Darnell Moore (Team Caldwell Cycles) and Gareth McKee (Cycleology Racing Team). After 9 laps it was Gareth who was ahead but Darnell was the one to cross the line in first place after 10 laps. Sean Nolan (Navan Road Club) finished third with Angus Fyffe (Team Caldwell Cycles) 4th, Paul McCarter (Spellman-Dublin Port) 5th and Darragh McCarter (Spellman-Dublin Port) 6th.
In the Senior 1 women’s race Caoimhe May (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) took the chequered flag when she finished just over 2 minutes ahead of Joanna Bula (Un-Attached Leinster) with Leah McCarthy (Team Giant Dublin) taking the third position. Travis Harkness (VC Glendale) lead the Junior men’s 8 lap race from start to finish. Jake White (IMBRC) finished second with Scott Gallagher (Northwest MTB) third.
The Senior 2 men’s race was held over 8 laps and was won by Geoffrey Robinson (Bray Wheelers). Simon Lennon (Unattached) finished second with David O’Neill (Inspired Cycling) third. Barry Convery (Newry Wheelers CC) was 4th, Robert McKenna (Bray Wheelers) 5th and Eric Downey (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) 6th.
The Senior 3 men’s race saw the biggest field of the day with 38 riders taking to the start line. After 7 laps it was Kieran McKenna (Omagh Wheelers Cycling Club) who crossed the line first. Oisin Mooney (Eire Og C.C.) was second with Julian Kennedy Ripon (Northwest MTB) third. Fourth place went to Emmet Brien (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles) with David McKee (VC Glendale) getting fifth and Andrew Gordon (Carn Wheelers) sixth.
The podium places were awarded medals with the Under 14s, Under 16s and adults also receiving wonderful gifts from series sponsor Scott Bikes.
A big thanks to all the volunteers from Ards Cycling Club for hosting the event. Thanks to North Down & Ards Borough Council for the use of the site and The Belgian Project for photographs and race commentary.
Commissaire: Martin Grimley
Results can be found here.
Report by Martin Grimley