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Shane Stokes
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OFF-ROAD EVENTS : Shane Stokes Last Updated: 2 Apr 2018 - 8:45:17 PM

By Shane Stokes
6 Jan 2008,

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Roger Aiken today stormed to a second national cyclo cross championship title in Tymon Park, beating 15-time winner Robin Seymour by a clear margin.

Seymour has dominated cyclo-cross and mountainbike cross country events for well over a decade, but Aiken interrupted his stranglehold on off road-racing in January 2005 when he won the cross title for the first time. Although Seymour bounced back to take the next two championships, Banbridge CC rider Aiken was clearly man of the moment today.

He set a furious pace from the drop of the flag and had already built an eight-second lead over his main rival by the end of the first of nine laps. He then continued to pull clear as the race went on and, despite easing back on the final lap in order to enjoy his success, hit the line a very comfortable 28 seconds ahead.

Joe McCall (K Capital Rocky Mountain) got the better of Seymour’s WORC team-mate Philip Roche to take the bronze medal. WORC took the team prize by virtue of the combined performances of Seymour, Roche and tenth-placed Evan Ryan.

In the other categories, Tarja Owens (Team WORC) beat Sarah Piner (Lakeside) and Heather Boyd (Ravens) to win the women’s title, Robert Lamont (XMTB) was best veteran ahead of Aiden McDonald (Apollo CT) and Gerry McCabe (Cuchailinn CC), and Liam McGreevey finished a fine seventh en route to the best junior prize. Graham Boyd (XMTB) was second in that classification.

A number of other races were run off earlier in the day. Andrew Adair (Banbridge) took the under 16 race while his brother and team-mate Matt beat Mantis Spirgius (Team Juice – Orchard Wheelers) and Seam Barr (Team Juice – Orchard Wheelers) in the under 14 category.

XMTB’s Chris Oakley (XMTB) was best of the under 12s, leading home Dan Runciman (Banbridge) and Zak Hanna (Dromara CC). James Curry (Banbridge) was quickest of the under 10s, finishing over two minutes clear of Joseph Boyd (Banbridge) and Elis Keogh (Epic).

The under 8 event saw three riders from the same family and club fight it out. Banbridge’s John Buller beat his sister Shannon and brother Mar in the race.

Main championship:

Aiken’s win in the senior race was due mainly to a very fast first half. Deciding this was the best tactic to put Seymour and his other rivals under pressure, he went flat out from the gun and immediately posted what would be the fastest lap time (6 minutes 38 seconds) by anyone in the race. This was eight seconds quicker than his main rival, ensuring a commanding lead by the end of lap one plus a panicked reaction behind. He then added a further eight seconds to his advantage when he covered the second lap in a time of 6 minutes 39 seconds.

Lap three of nine was where the biggest gain was made over Seymour, namely 29 seconds. He then took a further seven seconds out of the WORC rider, and while the latter was quicker from lap five onwards [with the exception of lap eight, covered in the same time], his gains were too low to haul back the Banbridge competitor.

It was, Aiken said afterwards, a deliberate tactic. “The plan was to go [flat-out] from the start. I wanted to give it everything, not to finish with anything left in the tank.

“I was riding tubs today, they make a big difference. I haven’t raced on them before…it was good. Things went pretty smooth in the race – I had a few little slips but nothing major. Once I got the gap it was okay. It went up to 53 seconds with four laps to go, so I knew then there was no need to keep pushing on so hard.”

Like Seymour, Aiken competed in Belgium last week. He finished behind the Wicklow man in one of the events, something which those looking at the results suggested that he would be off the winning pace today. However he said there was more to it than the finishing order suggested.

“It was a bit of a disaster. I got lapped in the first race [by the winner] and broke a bike in the second. It is just a different league over there, but I wanted to get a few races in before the champs.

“I was in and around at the same pace as Robin there but then the bike broke. I hadn’t really had a proper race with Robin this year, apart from those two in Belgium – I had done all the races up north but none in the south, and he did the opposite. But I knew I wouldn’t be far away. He is not getting any younger and so he’ll be starting to slow down.”

Robin Seymour was in an optimistic frame of mind before the race, reporting himself happy with his performances in Belgium the week before. He was chasing his sixteenth win in the championships and appeared to think it was possible to add to that formidable record. However, it was not to be; he was caught out by Aiken’s lightning pace at the start and only seemed to get going in the second half of the race.

“It was just one of those days, it took a long time to get into it,” he said after the finish. “It took me three or four laps. I changed bikes because the tyres were a bit harder on the first one and I didn’t want to stop and let them down. I kind of got into my stride a little bit then, but I wasn’t great today. It took me a long time to get away from Joe [McCall] and Philip [Roche], so it was not ideal. And Roger was riding well, of course.

“I don’t think I was over-trained or anything like that. I am riding well enough, and I haven't been doing that much training anyway. I have basically been riding well in spite of that. It is just one of those things, some days you're just not on top form.”

He finished with a trickle of blood running down from one knee, prompting a question about whether he’d had a bad fall. “No, I just slid off on one of the corners,” he answered. “I suppose I was pulling him back a little bit towards the end, but it was not a lot.”

One rider who was very happy with his medal was Joe McCall. He wouldn’t be in the running for the win, but he came into the race believing that bronze was very possible. The K-Capital/Rocky Mountain rider spent the early part of the contest tussling with Philip Roche (Team WORC) for third place, then pulled clear and eventually finished a comfortable two minutes ahead. He was happy with how things went.

“It was very good, the course lent itself to splitting all the riders up. There weren’t many bunches. The positions were defined early on.

“It was partly down to Roger’s fast pace, but it was also because the course was pretty technical in places. You’d come out of the forest with gaps of a couple of seconds here and there and that was hard to close. With a fast course you would find perhaps six riders riding around together, the odd attack. That didn’t really happen today, after two or three laps the positions were more or less defined. The race was very good.”

As the opening laps unfolded it was clear that Philip Roche would be his big rival for the bronze medal. McCall bided his time, working out where was best to attack and then pushing hard to get a gap. “The first lap is always pretty intense, everybody is just flat out,” he said, when asked about his tactics. “So once it settled down after that I let Philip ride through in the lead on the second lap…I just observed him, seeing his weaknesses.

“I picked a place where I was going to attack. I came through the start/finish very hard [on the third lap], putting him under pressure, and going across the flat field I really dug deep. I got 15 seconds. Then it was just a case of keeping going, putting the head down.”

Women and veterans:

Tarja Owens was the clear winner of the women’s category, netting what she believes is her fifth cross title over the years. Her main rivals from the MTB circuit did not take part in the race today. Sarah Piner (Lakeside), Heather Boyle (Ravens) and Louise Harlwich (McNally Swords) were also competing and took places two through to four.

“The race was good,” said Owens just before the prize presentation. “It was very enjoyable, actually. It was pretty muddy so that meant it was a bit slower, which was great. I think I got a gap straight away [on the other women]. We all started together and you are just focussed on getting into a good position for the singletrack, so you don’t actually notice where the other riders were.

“There were a couple of crashes ahead of me but I was fine. That actually happened on a run-up so it was slow enough that you could get around it.”

Owens is planning on moving to Italy in May and setting up a MTB training base near Lake Garda. She’ll be able to combine work and exercise as a result of her job, and plans to keep on competing. “I think I will race this year,” she said. “The national championship title means a lot to me. I lost it for the first time in twelve years last year, so I would like to get that back. That would be nice.

“I will definitely still race – I think that once it is in your blood, you can’t stop. When I’m over in Italy I’ll compete there, but I will do some races here in the early season.

“It would be great to diversify a bit, maybe do some more mountainbike marathons.”

Piner usually focuses on road racing but says she is happy with her new discipline. “It was very, very enjoyable,” she said. “This is my second cross race, I did one last week. I will definitely do more next year. I didn’t have any falls or anything, just some nasty cramp on lap five!”

The veteran’s title went to Robert Lamont, once again proving he is the best in this age group. He finished well clear of the next two home in that category, namely Aiden McDonald (Apollo CT) and Gerry McCabe (Cuchailinn CC). He was also a very solid ninth overall.

“I got away in a wee group due to a good start,” he said. “I tried to stay there but then the old age started to creep in and the group went away from me.

“I basically rode the whole race on my own. I tried to stay with other wee groups but it is just getting too hard now.

“The course was quick in the singletrack second, and you needed to be riding well there to be able to come out of it fast. Then it was just about trying to sit in the groups. It was a good, hard course – it was testing for everybody.” didn’t get to speak to Liam McGreevey after the finish, but the young rider pulled out a great ride in finishing seventh overall. He beat Graham Boyd (XMTB) to take the prize for first junior.

One of the most determined performances of the day went to a rider who finished well out of the hunt for medals. Don Travers (Banbridge) has been in the scrap for the top honours in the past but this time round, he completed nearly half the race on foot. He was forced to run when his derailleur broke three or four laps from the end. He wasn’t aiming for a team prize; the effort he put out was to finish the race. “I’ve done quite a few of these and didn’t want to drop out,” he said after placing 40th. It was yet another notable performance during what was a very well run IMBRC-organised national championships.

What else was said:

Roger Aiken, gold medal: “The plan this year was to do everything right…I wanted to win the championships again. Last year I wasn’t that fussed, and the time before in Tymon Park (2006) I followed him [Robin Seymour] about…it just wasn’t a very good tactic.

“The plan now is that I will go to Majorca in February for ten days on the road bike. I will just race at home this year, do some mountainbike events, and do the Rás again. And the road champs, I’d like to do that too.”

Robin Seymour, silver:

“I will take a week or two off now. Obviously the K Capital Cups are coming up now in March, so I have to train, put my head down for that. But I will need to take a bit of a break [beforehand], I have been racing quite a bit over the last few months.”

Joe McCall, bronze:

“I was sure it was possible to aim for bronze today. I had that in my mind over Christmas, I wanted to keep in shape and prepare well for it. I have got two seconds and a first so far [in races this season] – I had beaten everybody apart from Roger and Robin. So I knew a medal was on the cards.

“As regards those results, I was second in the Ulster championships behind Roger…more or less everybody was there apart from Robin, so I knew that things were good coming out of that. The other second place was in Corcagh Park, where Robin won. I beat Philip [Roche] in that. And I won last week, although the guys were racing in Belgium [Roger and Robin], so there wasn’t the top competition there.

“I knew I had to stay fit over Christmas, take care of myself and if everything stayed the same, I was in with a shout. The race today went fine…there were no problems [as regards crashes]. It was very straightforward. I kept it easy, I didn’t push myself too hard around corners.

“My aim now is to have a good 2008. I am doing a Marathon in Grand Canaria in March so I will miss the first K Capital cup. I will do that series, maybe the Master’s world championships again, the usual Roc d’Azur, a couple of races away and then the Irish series and the championships.

“The K Capital/Rocky Mountain team is still going ahead this year, so that gives me a bit of motivation to perform well. When you have a team behind you, you have to ride well!”


Irish national cyclo cross championships, Tymon Park, Dublin (promoted by IMBRC):

1, Roger Aiken (Banbridge) 1 hour 1 min 32 secs
2, Robin Seymour (Team WORC) at 28 secs
3, Joe McCall (K Capital Rocky Mountain) at 4 mins 9 secs
4, Philip Roche (Team WORC) at 6 mins 9 secs
5, Lewis Ferguson (Dave Kane Northern) at 6 mins 45 secs
6, Mark Allen (Swords CC) at 7 mins 35 secs
7, Liam McGreevey (Banbridge) at 7 mins 55 secs (1st junior)
8, Graham Boyd (XMTB) at 1 lap
9, Robert Lamont (XMTB) at 1 lap (1st vet)
10, Evan Ryan (Team WORC) at 1 lap

Team: Team WORC

Other results:

11, Richard Felle, at 1 lap
12, Aiden McDonald
13, Gerry McCabe
14, Rory Walsh
15, Ryan Sherlock
16, Peter McConville
17, Mick Jordan
18, Alan Clogher
19, Padraig Marrey
20, Keith Meghen
21, Colm Ahearn
22, Michael Cowan
23, William Mulligan
24, Ken Farrar
25, David O'Neill
26, Barry Donnelly
27, Cormac Keogh, all at 1 lap
28, Tarja Owens (first woman), at 2 laps
29, Stewart Galloway
30, Fred McSorley
31, Tony Brennan
32, Will Byrne
33, Frank O'Leary
34, Luke Manning
35, Steven Franzoni
36, Dave Askin
37, Curry Simon
38, Patrick O'Hare
39, Barry Keogh
40, Don Travers
41, John Runciman
42, Sarah Piner, all at 2 laps
43, Maurice Mayne, at 3 laps
44, John Walker
45, Mark Conway
46, Greg May
47, Heather Boyle
48, Louise Harlwich
49, William Boyd

DNF David Gill
DNF Conor Campbell
DNF Paddy Daly
DNF Noel McGlynn
DNF Mark Kenny
DNF Gar Maguire


1, Robert Lamont (XMTB)
2, Aiden McDonald (Apollo CT)
3, Gerry McCabe (Cuchailinn CC)


1, Liam McGreevey (Banbridge)
2, Graham Boyd (XMTB)


1, Tarja Owens (Team WORC) 1 hour 50 secs
2, Sarah Piner (Lakeside) at 10 mins 33 secs
3, Heather Boyle (Ravens) at 1 lap
4, Louise Harlwich (McNally Swords) same

Mountainbike event :


1, Johnny McCabe (Cuchulainn CC) 57 mins 51 secs
2, Fegal Kilkenny (MAD) at 2 mins 2 secs
3, Paul Keogh (EPIC) at 4 mins 9 secs
4, Derek Hanna (Dromara CC) at 5 mins 46 secs
5, Declan McCabe (Cuchulainn CC) at 5 mins 53 secs


1, Mel Spath (MAD) 44 mins 15 secs
2, Rachael Wisdom (unattached) at 6 mins 31 secs
3, Pauline Griffin (DCU) at 9 mins 38 secs


Under 16: Andrew Adair (Banbridge)

Under 14:

1, Matt Adair (Banbridge) 13 mins 16 secs
2, Mantis Spirgius (Team Juice – Orchard Wheelers) at 40 secs
3, Seam Barr (Team Juice – Orchard Wheelers) at 3 mins 21 secs
4, Clare Oakley (XMTB) at 3 mins 28 secs
5, Ben Gregory (unattached) at 3 mins 55 secs

Under 12:

1, Chris Oakley (XMTB)
2, Dan Runciman (Banbridge)
3, Zak Hanna (Dromara CC)
4, Rachel Mayne (Banbridge)

Under 10:

1, James Curry (Banbridge) 10 mins 51 secs
2, Joseph Boyd (Banbridge) at 2 mins 14 secs
3, Elis Keogh (Epic) at 3 mins 23 secs

Under 8:

1, John Buller (Banbridge CC)
2, Shannon Buller (Banbridge CC)
3, Mar Buller (Banbridge CC)
4, Shenna McKiverigan (Banbridge CC)
5, Ben Hanna (Dromara CC)

(No results for MTB race available as yet)

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