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

SEYMOUR AND AIKEN TO BATTLE FOR CYCLO-CROSS HONOURS TODAY
By Shane Stokes
7 Jan 2012,

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Seventeen-time champion Robin Seymour will square up against double title winner Roger Aiken in the Irish cyclocross national championships today, the duo going head to head in a race which seems destined to go to one of them.

Seymour and Aiken have clearly been at a higher level than their competitors this year, with the Team WORC rider winning the Supercross league and his Banbridge CC rival dominating the Ulster series. Aiken won every round in the latter, and also took two races in the Supercross league.

He won the nationals in 2005 and 2008 and will try to take a third win today in St. Anne's Park, Raheny.

Seymour, now 40 years of age, believes that the race could be a very tight one. “I don’t know how it will go for me, it is very hard to say. I hope to be in the mix anyway,” he said this week. “Myself and Roger have been battling it out this season. I won the second round of the Supercross league in Swords but felt terrible in the race. Roger punctured…I don’t think I would have beaten him otherwise.

“I had a good day in Corcaigh Park after that, but crashed. He didn’t turn up in St. Anne’s for round four, so I didn’t have a chance to see how we would have compared there.”

Riding that circuit in November should give him one advantage in today’s race. “It is the same course, or similar course to what we used,” he said. “There’s not so much grassland, it is all very loamy…very weather proof. There are lots of little bridges and a crossover and tunnels. It is quite interesting. There are also a flight of steps in it, and also a bit of a runup.

“I think the course will be good to race on. There are lots of ins and out and it will be quite slippy, which could favour me a bit.”

When pressed on what the likely result would be, he wouldn’t give a prediction. “I don’t know, it is very hard to say,” he answered. “Roger has been riding strongly all season, and looks very motivated. I do hope to be in the mix anyway. Training went okay until this hectic week, I haven’t been sick or anything so no excuses. That said, I am working now so I don’t really have the time I had before [when he was a full-time bike rider].

“The big challenge for me is looking after myself in the morning of the race. I will be running around setting up the course. That can leave you a little bit jaded.”

Course designer Greg May confirmed that the circuit was very similar to the fourth round of the Supercross league in November. “It’s going to be 95 percent the same,” he told Irishcycling.com. “We will just change one or two of the corners. It is such a good course for the spectators that we didn’t want to really modify it.

“The main thing about the course is speed…it is probably the fastest course on the Irish circuit, but it does take in muddy sections, it takes in steps, it takes in a crossover bridge and it takes in some steep descents. We tried to make it like a euro course, although in a more condensed form.”

Seymour and Aiken will be first and second on the grid, ahead of Evan Ryan and Matt Adair, and so the battle will be on from the drop of the flag. May said that if the course was in the dry, that he expected Aiken to try to use his speed to get a gap on Seymour. The latter has much less of a background in road racing than the Banbridge rider, although he may have an advantage if the course is wet.

Neither of the two competed in the championships held there in January 2010. May suggests that it wouldn’t have been much of an advantage if one of them had.

“It’s very different,” he explained. “That was much more a mountainbike course, whereas this one has moved more towards an open style Euro circuit. The course takes the best bits the roadies can do, then put in some challenges that will suit the mountainbike guys, such as the large drop-off we have.”

There will be two races held today; at 11.30am an event for underage, women and non-championship men will be held. At 1pm, the main championship race will begin, with senior, junior and veteran men taking part in this. Irishcycling.com will report from the event today, so come back later for details of how things turned out.

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