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Irish Cyclo-cross Championships - CN
Tymon Park, Dublin, Ireland, January 6, 2008
Aiken Triumphs, denies Seymour a 16th title
By Shane Stokes
As expected, the battle for the Irish cyclo-cross championship came down to two riders in Tymon Park on Sunday. Robin Seymour was aiming for his 16th title but, just as he did three years ago, Banbridge CC rider Roger Aiken vanquished the Wicklow man and took gold.
This time his victory was much more impressive than in 2005. Aiken set a furious pace from the drop of the flag and had already built a ten-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.
"The plan was to go from the start," he said after the race. "I wanted to give it everything, not to finish with anything left in the tank.
"This season I was determined to do everything right - I wanted to win the championships again. Last year I wasnt that fussed, then the time before in Tymon Park (2006) I followed Robin about and it just wasnt a very good tactic."
Seymour was disappointed not to add to his already formidable record and said he felt he was on an off-day. "It was just one of those days, it took a long time to get into it," he said.
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.
In the other categories, Tarja Owens (Team WORC) beat Sarah Piner (Lakeside) and Heather Boyd (Ravens) to win the women's title, her fifth thus far. Robert Lamont (XMTB) was best veteran and Liam McGreevey (Banbridge) dominated the junior contest.
How it unfolded
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 (six 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 six 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. He wanted to hammer it from the start, and it clearly worked out. He said that his choice of equipment also helped by giving him a boost.
"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."
Robin Seymour was in an optimistic frame of mind before the race. 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.
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."
Tarja Owens was the clear winner of the women's category, netting what she said is her fifth cross title over the years. Her main rivals from the mountain bike 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."
Piner usually focuses on road racing but said 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."
Overall 1 Roger Aiken (Banbridge) 1.01.32 2 Robin Seymour (Team WORC) 0.28 3 Joe McCall (K Capital Rocky Mountain) 4.09 4 Philip Roche (Team WORC) 6.09 5 Lewis Ferguson (Dave Kane Northern) 6.45 6 Mark Allen (Swords CC) 7.35 7 Liam McGreevey (Banbridge) (first junior finisher) 7.55 Behind one lap 8 Graham Boyd (XMTB) 9 Robert Lamont (XMTB) (first veteran finisher) 10 Evan Ryan (Team WORC) 11 Richard Felle 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 Behind two laps 28 Tarja Owens (first female finisher) 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 Behind three laps 43 Maurice Mayne 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 Team 1 Team WORC Women 1 Tarja Owens (Team WORC) 1.00.50 2 Sarah Piner (Lakeside) 10.33 Behind one lap 3 Heather Boyle (Ravens) 4 Louise Harlwich (McNally Swords) Veterans 1 Robert Lamont (XMTB) 2 Aiden McDonald (Apollo CT) 3 Gerry McCabe (Cuchailinn CC) Junior 1 Liam McGreevey (Banbridge) 2 Graham Boyd (XMTB) Under 16 1 Andrew Adair (Banbridge) Under 14 1 Matt Adair (Banbridge) 13.16 2 Mantis Spirgius (Team Juice) 0.40 3 Seam Barr (Team Juice) 3.21 4 Clare Oakley (XMTB) 3.28 5 Ben Gregory (unattached) 3.55 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) 10.51 2 Joseph Boyd (Banbridge) 2.14 3 Elis Keogh (Epic) 3.23 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)
2007 Robin Seymour (Team WORC)