NPS Round 5 (2023) Report

The fifth and final round of the 2023 Cross-country Mountain Biking National Point Series took place on Sunday 2 July at Bree Hill, County Wexford. For host club Bree MTB, this was the second year they had used this venue for a cross-country race. It is more widely known as a downhill/enduro venue. The trails there are challenging with a good mix of climbing, technical sections and fun berms. The whole track was in great condition and the weather on the day was dry with a cool breeze. As before, the main car park acted as the race village where the registration, coffee van and podium were based. The youth races (U8 to U12) passed along the side of the race village to continue their circuits. This year the Under 10s used the circuit the Under 12s used last year and the Under 12s had the long climb up the fire road to their sharp turn down a swooping single track.

The first race of the day was for the Under 6s. They had a short circuit in the trees near the event village. There wasn’t enough room to have all 6 young riders start side by side on the circuit so instead they had a Le Mon style start. All 6 rider lined up about 20 metres away for a short run to their bikes. They then jumped on their bikes and started riding anti-clockwise around the short circuit. Great fun. They were rewarded with some sweets at the end.

The Under 8s lined up for their race, on their bikes. They faced 4 laps of their circuit. In the boys’ race Jaxon Jennings (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) took the win, his second win of the series. Conor McGahan (Square Wheels) was second with Evan McTavish (Western Lakes CC) third. In the girls’ race Ciara McCool (Square Wheels) finished ahead of Marian Mulvaney (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club).

The Under 10s also had 4 laps to complete but on their longer circuit. As expected Benjamin Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) lead the boys’ race from start to finish, taking his fourth win of the series. Fabian Drwal (Un-Attached Connacht) finished second with Jack McGahan (Square Wheels) third. In the girls’ race there was no surprise to see Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) finishing well up among the boys, second overall rider. This meant that Aoife had won all 5 rounds. Unfortunately Julia Piorek (Limerick Mountain Biking Club) and Erica Sheridan (Fermoy Cycling Club) both crashed and had to retire from the race.

The Under 12s faced 4 laps of their daunting course. James Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) completed his full sweep of wins in the series in the boys’ race. Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels) finished second with Rory McCool (Square Wheels) third. In the girls’ race Ava Baker (Breffni Wheelers) had been leading for the first 2 laps but Ciara O’Connor (Drogheda Wheelers) managed to get to the line first. Ava finished second with Aoife Killeen (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) completing the podium.

The next races took place at 12 noon. Lined up were the Under 14s, Under 16s, Senior 2 women and Senior 4 men. There were no entries for the Senior 3 women’s race. The Under 14s used the shorter loop off the main course while all other riders used the full course. First to appear at the finish line at the top of the hill were the Under 14s. Caleb McGreevy (VC Glendale) collected maximum points from the series with his fifth win in the boys’ race. Rian McCrystal (Bellurgan Wheelers) was second with Fionn Crinion (IMBRC) third. There was only one entry in the Under 14 girls’ race with Lacey Aicken-Johnson (North Down CC) enjoying the racing. In the Under 16 boys’ race Ryan Daly (Scott Bright Motor Group) got his first win of the series. Fionn Killeen (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) was second with Ben O’Keeffe (Killarney Cycling Club) third. Faith Robinson (Bray Wheelers) was delighted to take her first win of the series in the Under 14 girls’ race. Mia Geary (Fermoy Cycling Club) finished second with Cara Suckling (VC Glendale) finishing third.

In the Senior 4 men’s race Karl Ryan (Bray Wheelers) led after lap 1 but Pierce O’Leary (Lucan Cycling Road Club) took over the lead and took the chequered flag. Karl finished second with Sean O’Leary (Lucan Cycling Road Club), Pierce’s twin brother, completing the podium. The Senior 2 women’s race was won by junior rider Tara Brennan (Team Giant Dublin). This was Tara’s fourth win of the series. Niamh Stephens (Team Giant Dublin) was second, Melissa Anderson (IMBRC) was third and Aine Mac Carthy (Sorrento CC) was fourth.

The final set of races took place at 2 pm. Lined up at the bottom of the hill were the Senior 1 men (with 5 laps to complete), Junior men (3 laps), Senior 2 men (4 laps), Senior 1 women (4 laps), Senior 3 men (3 laps).

Cameron McFarland (Team Caldwell Cycles) won the Senior 3 men’s race, his first win of the series. Jaroslaw Kinal (Shannonside Cycling Club) finished second with Ryan Dunne (Lucan Cycling Road Club) third. Series leader Jean Sergio Cambruzzi (Team WORC) was fourth with Damien McCarthy (MBCC) fifth.

In the Senior 2 men’s race Eric Downey (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) crossed the line first ahead of Michael Maher (Team WORC) with John Doris (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles) finishing third. Conor Verbruggen (Bray Wheelers) was fourth with Kevin Moran (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles) fifth. This was Eric’s second time on the podium but first win.

In the Junior men’s race Jake White (IMBRC) finished well clear of Donagh O’Connor (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club). Ciara Macmanus (Un-Attached Ulster) put in a great performance in the Senior 1 women’s race which bagged her second win of the series. Joanna Bula (Team WORC) was second with Leah McCarthy (K Capital Rocky Mountain) third.

The Senior 1 men’s race was a close affair between series leader Robin Seymour (Team WORC) and club mate Daniel Brickenden (Team WORC). On the finish Robin beckoned Daniel to ride alongside him, they both linked hands and headed towards the finish line together. A beautiful sight, a shared moment and a rare joint winner, however, just before the line Robin pulled on his brake and pushed Daniel over the line. Robin crossed a few moments later with a large smile on his face. Robin won the series and this was a great gesture for the hard working Daniel to take the win.

Behind this cosy moment in history there was a change of fortune for the other riders. Gareth McKee (Cycleology Racing Team) was expected to be on the podium but his race was effectively over on the first lap when his chain broke. David Montgomery (Spellman-Dublin Port) was also expected on the podium, and was in second place on lap 2, but a rogue contact lense played havoc with his race setting him back to ninth and having to work back to 6th overall. Working his way up from 6th on lap 1 to third at the finish was Geoffrey Robinson (Bray Wheelers). His first podium of the series. Robert McKenna (Bray Wheelers) finished 4th with Lee Clarke (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) taking 5th.

A huge thanks to all at Bree MTB for hosting the race at this great venue. Many thanks to Scott Cycles for sponsoring the series. The overall series prizes were handed out as well today. This concludes the series with the next cross-country race being the national cross-country championships on the weekend of 22-23 July 2023 at Bellurgan Park, hosted by Bellurgan Wheelers. This is the same venue as last year’s national championships. Look for details on Entries will close one week in advance.

Commissaire: Martin Grimley

Results – here

Series table after five rounds – here

Race report by Martin Grimley

Cycling Ireland (Facebook) – here and here (own site) – here

Gareth Gibbons (own site) – here