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Ireland , July 20-21, 2002
More titles for Seymour, Owens
Story by Shane Stokes
Robin Seymour and Tarja Owens today added to their impressive tally of national titles when they won the Elite men and women's races at the cross-country mountainbike championships in Kilruddery Estate, Bray.
Italian-based Seymour was in dominant form, easily fending off the challenge of 31 others to take a ninth consecutive title. The Mapei rider finished over seven minutes clear of his closest challenger, Phil Cooper of the Blueskycycles.com team, who had travelled over from the UK in the search for some of the world ranking points on offer.
Cooper, who finished fourth last year, started fast and opened up a slight lead over Seymour by the halfway point of the first lap but this slight advantage was surrendered by the time they crossed the finish line. Pedalling smoothly, Seymour steadily opened up a lead over Cooper, with his advantage jumping from twenty six seconds at the end of the second lap to over four minutes by the start of lap five.
As the UK rider continued to fade, the hard-chasing Glen Kinning (XMTB) came back from a minute's deficit to close to within 19 seconds, but the expected battle for second place never materialised. Kinning's charging ride spluttered to a halt when the talented young rider blew up, coming to a virtual halt at the bell as he was caught and passed by team-mate Simon Loughlin, before fading to an eventual sixth place. The under 23 title will however act as some consolation.
Seymour eventually finished an impressive seven minutes and eighteen seconds ahead of Cooper, who in turn was one and two minutes ahead of Loughlin (silver medal) and Banbridge CC's Don Travers (bronze) respectively.
'It was a good race and I am happy to win', said Seymour afterwards. 'Having a national title is pretty important when you are racing with a foreign team. I felt pretty strong today and once I got clear I just had to make sure that I stayed out of trouble. Phil got a bit of a lead on the opening lap but I had decided to take it steady at the start, so I wasn't worried. Last year I went off a bit quickly and felt it towards the end, so I had decided to do things differently this time around.'
'The gap didn't really open when he went clear, and once I started pushing it I brought him back quickly enough, so it worked out quite well. My next targets are the European championship and the Worlds - I am hoping to get a top twenty placing in one or other of those, so hopefully all goes to plan.'
While Seymour's seven minutes-plus winning margin was undoubtedly impressive, Lewis Ferguson's victory in the junior race was even more dominant. The XMTB rider started two minutes after the Elite race but such was his speed that he managed to claw his way up to the seniors and overtake well over half the field before winning the shorter four lap race. Ferguson ended the contest a massive twelve minutes and five seconds ahead of silver medallist William Britton (Eire Og) with Gavin Weston (IMBRC) a further minute and a half down.
Another notable performance was that of the Jensen family, who pulled off a rare feat in winning three gold medals today. Knud Jensen successfully defended his title in the Veterans race, while his sons Thomas and Christopher (all Sorrento CC) proved best in the under 16 and under 14 contests. The under 12 title went to Neil Gimpsey (XMTB), while Alan Ryan (unattached) and Peter McConville (Newry Wheelers) took the Sport and Masters races.
Their was disappointment of sorts for Tarja Owens (UCI World Cycling Centre team) in the women's event, despite taking her eighth consecutive national XC title. The Greystones rider had returned home from her Swiss base for the race but was left with just one other rider to compete against; her main rival Beth McCluskey had sprained her wrist in the run up to today's championship and did not sign on, while other competitors were nowhere to be seen. Only Jenny McCauley (nee Brennan) lined out alongside the Olympian; her race, though, proved to be a short-lived one due to a broken chain.
'I was going well out there' said a frustrated Owens afterwards, 'but it is very disheartening not to have any competition in the race. I was hoping that more women would show today..hopefully things will improve by next season.'
Owens is on scholarship in the UCI's World Cycling Centre and is hoping that her new, more intense training regime will pay dividends. 'It seems strange not to be doing loads of big miles but I have been told to do shorter, harder stuff. Hopefully that will pay off - the plan now is to build up towards the Europeans and the World Championships. I am aiming for the Worlds in particular, and the final round of the World Cup - it would be great to end up doing a good ride in those two races'.
Owens is also hoping to ride the world road championships, although this is dependent on being selected. 'I didn't get back for the road race championships as my tutors thought that travelling back for both that race and the MTB champs would be too much disruption. I have been doing some very good quality races abroad, though, and so would hope that I will be given the chance to go to the Worlds.'
Senior Men 1 Robin Seymour (Mapei) 2 Philip Cooper (Blueskycycles.com) 3 Simon Loughlin (XMTB) 4 Don Travers (Banbridge CC) 5 Aiden Mcdonald (Apollo CT) 6 Glen Kinning (XMTB) 7 Richi Mccauley (Team Velocosse) 8 Matt Dempsey (IMBRC) 9 Brett Nelson (IMBRC) 10 Mark Kenny (Team-WORC) Senoir Women 1 Tarja Owens (UCI) 2 Jenny Brennan (Team Velocosse) U12 1 Neil Mcgimpsey (XMTB ) 2 Christy Brown (XMTB ) 3 Conor O'Neil (Killarney CC) 4 Kieran Slattery (Killarney CC) 5 Niall Healey (Killarney CC) 6 Jason Murphy (Killarney CC) 7 Reece Davidson (XMTB ) 8 Michael Gordon (XMTB ) 9 William Boyde (XMTB ) 10 Dara O'Neill (Killarney CC) U14 1 Chris Jenson (Sorrento CC) 2 Conor Mcconfee (XMTB ) 3 Donnana Cassidy (Killarney CC) 4 David Gordon (XMTB ) 5 Ryan Donnalson (U/A) 6 Graham Boyde (XMTB ) 7 Michael Tangray (Killarney CC) 8 Conor Heyel (Killarney CC) 9 Killian O'Carroll (Killarney CC) 10 Declan Malone (U/A) U16 1 Thomas Jenson (Sorrento CC) 2 Andrew Mccullagh (XMTB ) 3 Michael Mullvenagh (Ards CC) 4 Matt Ferguson (XMTB ) 5 Chris Birmingham (Irish MTB) 6 Ryan Connay (IMBRC) 7 Dara Quille (Newbridge CC) 8 Barry Nolan (Sorrento CC) 9 Jason Harris (Killarney CC) 10 Patrick Semple (Sorrento CC) Sports 1 Alan Ryan (U/A) 2 Alan Clogher (TC Racing) 3 Peter Jones (Hi Elbow TRI Club) 4 Paul Hicks (Team-WORC) 5 Mark Harman (IMBRC) 6 David Hickey (U/A) 7 Darren Mcgann (U/A) 8 Stuart Galloway (Team-WORC) 9 Ross Mcclure (MAD) 10 Naill Davis (Mitch CC) Junior 1 Lewis Ferguson (XMTB ) 2 William Britton (Eire Og CC) 3 Gavin Weston (IMBRC) 4 Samual Curran (Banbridge CC) 5 Christopher Jones (Xplosive MTB ) 6 Philip Roche (MAD) 7 Keith Quille (Newbridge CC) 8 Derek Kearns (Newbridge CC) 9 Michael Mccuthans (MAD) 10 Patrick O'Connor (Killarney CC) Masters 1 Peter Mcconnville (Newry Wheelers) 2 Robert Lamont (XMTB ) 3 Paul Mccann (Banbridge CC) 4 William Mulligan (Banbridge CC) 5 David King Smith (Team-WORC) 6 Peter Molloy (U/A) 7 Conor Higgins (Sorrento CC) 8 Ken Farrar (Team-WORC) Veterns 1 Knud Juul Jenson (Sorrento CC) 2 Aidan Ryan (Sorrento CC) 3 Justin May (IMBRC) 4 Leslie Warpole (IMBRC) 5 Paul Murray (Sorrento CC) 6 Eamonn Mullin (U/A) 7 Geoff Copeland (Apollo CT) 8 Ray Beers (U/A) 9 Bill Mcgimpsey (XMTB ) 10 Doug Corrie (U/A)