Dean Harvey (Trinity Racing) took victory in the national cyclocross championships at Jenkinstown, Co Louth on Sunday, finishing well ahead of defending champion Chris Dawson (Dawson Racing) on a muddy and slippery track. Darren Rafferty (Hagens Berman Axeon) stayed close to Harvey for a while before crashing and finishing third.
In the women’s race, US-based Maria Larkin (Chicago Cuttin Crew) of Ireland captured her third consecutive national title, overcoming an issue that forced her to stop and change shoes. She rallied to beat junior rider Hannah McClorey (RFDA) and Stephanie Roche (Scott Bright Motor Group) for gold.
Liam O’Brien (Fermoy CC) retained his junior title, Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles) was the top of the Masters 40 riders, and multiple national champion Robin Seymour (Team WORC) added the Masters 50 title to the European championship that won in November. .
Grace Young (All Human VeloRevolution) and Johnny McCabe (Cuchulainn CC) triumphed in the Women’s Masters event and the Masters 60 race respectively.
Harvey had entered the men’s race as the heavy favorite having won all four rounds plus the overall in this winter’s National Series. The 19-year-old opened the gap between his rivals right after the start, and Dawson crashed early on. Rafferty battled his way up to second and cut his one-point deficit to under 10 seconds, but Harvey seemed more comfortable on a tight and technically demanding course, made more difficult by rain and hail, and he moved forward again. more. Dawson passed Rafferty when the latter crashed and raced for second, but was roughly two minutes behind.
“I’m very happy,” Harvey said. “I think it’s been a good cross season. There was a little bit of pressure on this, but I think I handled it well. Given the conditions, it was a really difficult race. I’m happy, nothing went wrong.”
Rafferty was improving in form in the final round of the National Series last Saturday, and Harvey had identified him as a big threat. “I knew that I knew that he would be there, at least at the beginning,” he said. “I started pretty fast but I kept it under control. I rode my own pace for a couple of laps and then the gap was gone. I kept doing what I was doing, I made sure I didn’t make mistakes.”
Dawson had dominated last year’s race, putting in six minutes on Harvey, but the tables had been completely turned 12 months later.
“I’m probably in better shape now than I was at this time last year when I won it,” he said. “I think Dean just raised the bar this year. So I take my hat off to him, he walked blindly. I can’t complain with the second. I did everything I could, I’m happy with that.”
Mayo’s US-based woman, Larkin, had won the last two championships, and while she hasn’t run as much of late as some of her rivals, she was a class ahead. She opened up a clear lead on the first lap and was soon 10 seconds ahead of McClorey and 12 ahead of Stephen Roche’s niece Roche.
He then had problems with his shoe about halfway through the race, adding some unexpected drama to the action. She was unable to get her foot back on the pedal and she was forced to change both shoe and bike in the pits and she lost vital time.
Larkin remounted but was trailing solo leader McClorey and Roche, leaving her with a lot to do. However, she was running very strongly and was soon back in the lead of the race, with the 17-year-old McClorey gradually falling back. Larkin eventually came to the line 19 seconds clear, with Roche a 13 minute behind.
He was beaming with praise for McClorey. “She was fantastic. She had a problem with her shoe in Baal [in Belgium] when he was running so I’m sure he knew what was going on with me. She is just amazing. All the young people are incredibly inspiring. I am very excited for the young people who are coming. The racing here is fantastic. They are just brilliant… I am so proud of all the juniors.”