Round 3 of the 2022 Irish Cross-country Mountain Bike National Point Series (NPS) took place on Sunday 5 June at Union Wood which is 7 km from the town of Sligo. The host club was Northwest MTB who last hosted a round of the series back on 9 July 2017. This time round the club had redesigned the course with the race headquarters just 400 metres from the car park. The HQ had registration, podium and catering from Gg’s Foodtruck. The youth races started from the race HQ with the Under 6s doing a short loop through the first triangle of trees and the Under 8s and 10s doing both this triangle and another short section through the trees on the other side of Race HQ. The main course took in a figure 8 with the centre going through Race HQ – so there was lots of action to watch for the many spectators. The event attracted 165 entries and all were rewarded with a dry weekend both for Saturday’s practice and all day Sunday. The trails were in great shape with a variety of terrain on offer. All riders appreciated the work that Northwest MTB had put into the site to get it ready for racing.
Starting off the day were the Under 6s who had 2 laps to complete of their course. Next to line up were the Under 8s. As expected Benjamin Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) road strongly to take the win in the boys’ race. Nicholas McCarthy (MBCC) was second with Logan McAreavey (Cuchulainn CC), the current series leader, taking third place. Ríonach Campbell (Square Wheels), the current series leader for the Under 8 girls, finished the 4 lap race first with Fiadh Craig (VC Glendale) taking second and Ciara McCool (Square Wheels) taking third.
The Under 10s used the same course as the Under 8s but had an extension up the fire road for a sharp turn and back down the same fire road towards the finish line. Jake McKee (VC Glendale) took a comfortable win in the 6 lap race ahead of Rían Watkins (Un-Attached Munster) with Fabian Drwal (Un-Attached Connacht) completing the podium for the boys’ race. Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) completed her third win of the series when she finished ahead of Julia Piorek (Limerick Mountain Biking Club) in the girls’ race.
The Under 12s had a much longer course, heading up the main fire road then bearing right and into the wood for some technical riding, skipping over roots and avoiding the larger rocks. They then passed the race HQ before completing the short triangle wooded section and then heading up the main fire road again. In the 4 lap boys’ race Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels) and Darragh Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) had a great battle again. They are a great spectacle to watch. Eunan held onto his lead finishing just ahead of Darragh which gave Eunan his third win of the series. Adam Tansey (Yeats Country Cycling Club) took third with James Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) getting fourth. Among the girls it was Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) who took the cheqered flag ahead of Carmen Buchowicz (Team Caldwell Cycles). This was Aoife’s third win of the series.
After the usual break for podium presentations and practice time the 12 noon races got underway. This time the start and finish was on the main fire road. Setting off first were the Under 16 boys, then Under 14 boys, Under 16 girls, Under 14 girls, Senior 2 women, Senior 4 men then the only entry in the Senior 3 women’s race – Kelly Robinson, setting off last. Kelly completed 3 laps of the reduced course which was also used by the Under 14s. All other riders used the full course.
Appearing first at the finish line were the Under 14 boys with Curtis McKee (Scott Bright Motor Group) taking his third win of the series over the 4 laps of the reduced course. Ryan Daly (Scott Bright Motor Group) was second with Caleb McGreevy (Apollo Cycling Team) third. For the Under 14 girls, Cara Suckling (VC Glendale) completed her hat-trick of wins when she finished ahead of Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) and Mia Geary (Un-Attached Munster) who took second and third respectively.
Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) set a blistering pace from the start and finished well clear of nearest rival, Ryan McCarthy (Verge Sport PI Cycles), to complete his third win to date. Cameron Henry (Inspired Cycling) completed the podium for the Under 16 boys. This was the first appearance this year for Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) at the NPS but she showed her current race fitness to take the win in the Under 16 girls’ race. Faith Robinson (Bray Wheelers) took second with Aoibhe Murray (Moynalty Cycling Club) taking the bronze medal.
The Senior 4 men had 2 laps of the main course to complete. Dominik Drwal (Un-Attached Connacht) lead from start to finish. Paul Beattie, the current series leader, finished second with Steven Harold (IMBRC) third and Fergal Gilmartin from the host club getting fourth. Caroline Martinez (Chain Reaction Cycles) is leading the series and took the win in the Senior 2 women’s race. Ciara Nolan (Team Giant Dublin) finished second with Ellen Murray (TC Racing) having to pull out of the race after face planting on a tricky section. Heal fast Ellen!
After another break for podium presentations and practice, the 2 pm races got underway on the main fire road. Setting off first were the Senior 1 men, then Junior men, Senior 2 men, Senior 1 women and then the Senior 3 men. David McKee (VC Glendale) is thoroughly enjoying his cross-country season as he took the win in the 4 lap Senior 3 men’s race. Julian Kennedy Ripon (Northwest MTB) finished second with current series leader, Emmet Brien (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles) taking third. The Senior 2 men’s race was held over 5 laps with current series leader, Alexander Simon Lennon, taking his first win of the series. Robert McKenna (Bray Wheelers) finished second with Mark McGlynn (Killarney Cycling Club) third and Eric Downey (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) fourth. Kieran McKenna (Omagh Wheelers Cycling Club) had won the Senior 3 men’s race at Round 1 and voluntarily moved himself up to Senior 2 and picked up a 5th place finish.
There were only 2 Junior men in the race with Travis Harkness (VC Glendale) finishing well clear of Scott Gallagher (Northwest MTB). Caoimhe May (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) made it 3 wins from 3 rounds of the series in the Senior 1 women’s race with Joanna Bula (Un-Attached Leinster) second and Leah McCarthy (Team Giant Dublin) third. In the Senior 1 men’s race it was current National Champion, David Montgomery (Spellman-Dublin Port), who took the win in his first appearance in the NPS this year. Nathan Kurensky (Ale-Brocar) finished second. Colm Mullen (Team WORC) was holding third place comfortably up under the final lap when he allowed the stealthy Gareth McKee (Cycleology Racing Team) to catch up behind him, just before the final fire road climb up to the finish line. Gareth sped past Colm to take third which nudged Colm off the podium. Angus Fyffe (Team Caldwell Cycles) was 5th with Lee Clarke (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) taking 6th.
Well done to all riders on a tough, challenging course. Best wishes to all the riders who crashed – hoping for a speedy recovery. A huge thank you to all the volunteers from Northwest MTB for hosting a great event. Thanks to the Coillte for the use of the venue and to Scott cycles for providing more great prizes for the winners. The next round will be held at Bree Hill, County Wexford, hosted by Bree MTB on Sunday 19 June 2022.
Commissaire: Martin Grimley
Race results: here
Overall league table after 3 rounds: here
Race report by Martin Grimley