Photo by SnowyMountain Photography

Cheering crowds greeted the Irish riders at the Cyclocross World Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The support the Irish riders received was incredible adding to the already electric atmosphere. 

Sean Nolan and Dean Harvey were first to represent Ireland at the Championships in the u23 men's race. An unfortunate puncture early in the race set Dean Harvey back which meant he had to run half a lap, however the first-year u23 rider never gave up. Nolan (40) and Harvey (41) kept fighting until the end showing true heart and determination. 

Speaking after the race, Dean Harvey said:

"I got a good start, I was second last row but I think I was 25th early on and then with the heat it was hard, with breathing I started dropping back a bit. I started to feel good again and then I got the puncture and had to run half a lap which wasn't great and that was pretty much it. I'm happy that I just kept going and made the most of it."

Photo by SnowyMountain Photography

Sean Nolan commented: 

"It was a slightly disappointing day overall for me but the atmosphere was brilliant, the crowd was very energetic and there was a lot of support for the Irish. At the start after about ten pedal strokes unfortunately my foot came out of the pedal and then early on the first lap I unchipped my chain so that put me on the back foot a little bit. I worked on trying to make up a few places after losing a lap and then the dry air unfortunately played havoc with my lungs and my asthma so I lost a few places again. It was a fantastic experience and I'm really happy to be here and honoured to represent my country."

The race was won by Belgian rider Joran Wyseure who launched an attack in the second lap and maintained a strong lead right to the finish. It was an all-Belgian podium as teammates Emiel Verstrynge and Thibau Nys came home in second and third place respectively. 

Maria Larkin was next to race in the elite women's race. A race that saw Marianne Vos outsprint defending champion Lucinda Brand to claim an eighth Cyclocross World Championship title. Italian rider Silvia Persico rounded off the podium. 

Speaking about the race, Larkin (30) said:

"It was amazing. Not just my own race itself, I felt like I had a good race and I didn't make any mistakes, I had fun but the atmosphere was incredible. I'm not super happy that I was at the back or that I was in last position but when you look at the number of women that are out there, there's 30 women on the line and it's the best thirty women in the world and that's the race that it is. I couldn't be more pleased with my handling, I didn't feel like I made any mistakes. The climb was just a killer but I felt good overall. I was happy and then I kind of had mixed bag feelings just because of where I was in the field. The atmosphere was just incredible, my ears were ringing. The cheers coming up the climb, there was cheers for Ireland up the stairs, it was just incredible."

Photo by SnowyMountain Photography

Cyclocross Coordinator for the Cycling Ireland Off-Road Commission and Team Manager, Paul Birchall said:

"Sean, Dean and Maria lined up against the very best cyclocross riders in the world today, they didn't hold back for a moment and earned huge support from the very enthusiastic crowds who came out to watch the racing. All eyes will be on Liam and Travis who race the junior men's World Championships tomorrow morning." 

The championship continues today with the junior men's, u23 women's and elite men's races. Liam O'Brien and Travis Harkness will fly the flag for Ireland in the junior race which gets underway at 5pm Irish time. Watch the race live on Eurosport/GCN.