Report by Martin Grimley
Day 2 of the UCI C2 Cross Clonmel cyclo-cross race took place on Sunday 17 October 2021 at Powerstown Park Racecourse, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, hosted by Clonmel Cycling Club. Sunday's events included the Masters, Junior Men, Women and Elite Men’s races. With overnight wind the organisers were on site early to fix course tape, blown over barriers and one gazebo. Thankfully it didn’t take long before the course was ready for riders. The riders were queueing up early to get their race numbers with the M60 men first in line. The day started overcast but as racing got underway the clouds parted and the site was blessed with warm autumn sunshine. Suncream wasn’t high on the packing list for the event but it was needed. Cyclo-cross is traditionally a winter sport but today’s racing provided warm, dry and fast racing.
The racing started at 9 am with the Masters M50 and M60 races. There were 17 riders in the M50 race and 7 riders in the M60s with both having to complete 5 laps with the M60s starting after a short time delay behind the M50s. In the M50s race it was no surprise to see the national cyclo-cross champion Trevor Woods (All human/VeloRevolution Racing Team) taking the lead and holding it to the line. Chasing hard was John Doris (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles) with Fearghal Regan (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) third. David Lawless (Team WORC) was fourth with Declan Hanrahan (Panduit Carrick Wheelers) fifth. As per Day 1 there were trophies for the top 5 finishers. In the M60s race it was another national cyclo-cross champion, Johnny McCabe (Cuchulainn CC), who set off after the M50s and managed to finish third overall, first M60. Paul Birchall (Verge Sport PI Cycles) was second in the M60s with Christopher McCann (Banbridge CC) third, Eamon McConvey (McConvey Cycles) fourth and Raymond Beers (East Antrim CC) fifth.
At 10:30 the M40s took to the start line. The 26 riders had 6 laps to complete. There was some intense racing at the front of the bunch with Mark Pinfield (Blarney Cycling Club) taking the chequered flag. Patrick Clifford (Killarney Cycling Club) was second with Marcus Flavin (Panduit Carrick Wheelers) third. Completing the podium was Don Lapierre (Blarney Cycling Club) and Redmond O’Toole (Team WORC) who finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Just after noon the first of the UCI races took place for the Junior Men. The race attracted two of the top riders from the British National Trophy Series – Nathan Smith and Oliver Akers both from Garden Shed-Ribble- Verge Sport. Once the whistle blew the visitors took off streching out a comfortable lead over the other 12 racers. Nathan Smith was in a class of his own leading from start to finish. Oliver Akers was going well until a bad lap 3 dropped him back to his nearest rival Liam O’Brien (Fermoy Cycling Club). Oliver recovered to keep ahead of Liam to finish second. Travis Harkness (VC Glendale) also put on a strong race to finish fourth the Curtis Neill (Carn Wheelers) fifth.
With not enough numbers to run a separate Junior Women’s race the three Junior women were combined with the 12 Elite Women into one race. The race was held over 6 laps. Like the Junior Men’s race, there were visitors from outside Ireland in this race and they were setting the pace to beat. Amira Mellor (Team Spectra Wiggle P/B vitus) took the win by over a minute on her teammate Xan Crees. Libby Bell (Garden Shed-Ribble- Verge Sport) finished third with Audrey De Keersmaeker (Star Casino CX Team) fourth and Beth Crumpton (Team Spectra Wiggle P/B vitus) fitth. US rider Rebecca Gross (Zero D Racing) was sixth with the first of the Irish riders, Roisin Lally (Scott Quanta Racing) and Darcey Harkness (VC Glendale), taking 7th and 8th respectively.
The final race of the day, and of the weekend, was the Elite Men who had 8 laps, of the now very dry, course. Forty-two riders started the race in a cloud of dust along the wide stone start. By the end of lap one there was a small bunch off the front of the race. In that bunch there were three visiting riders – Ben Chilton (Team Spectra Wiggle P/B vitus), Dan Barnes (Team Spectra Wiggle P/B vitus) and Cyprien Gilles (Fima Cyrpeo Alian). This bunch stayed together until Lap 6 when the two British riders, Dan and Ben, pulled away from French rider Cyprien. At the finish it was Dan Barnes who took the win ahead of Ben with Cyprien finishing third. First Irish rider was Chris McGlinchey (Team Spectra Wiggle P/B vitus) who finished fourth with Espoir rider Dean Harvey (VC Glendale) finishing fifth. Winner of Day 1’s Support race, Alex Ryan (Ibis Off Road p/b Eliel Cycling Team) from the USA, finished sixth. Darnell Moore (Team Caldwell Cycles) won his mini battle with Darragh McCarter (Spellman-Dublin Port) to take 7th and 8th respectively.
Many thanks to John Dempsey and the army of volunteers from Clonmel Cycling Club for hosting the race. It was a great showcase of Irish Cyclo-cross and everyone is encouraged by the possibility of a return next year. Thanks to all the riders for supporting the race and to the spectators who came along to support them. Thanks to all the sponsors for the event and to the crew from Cycling Ireland for supporting the event.
Images by Sean Rowe (Facebook)