With both the DCCX and Fixx series of Cyclocross races decided, the sport transitions into championship season. The Leinster title has been awarded to Robin Seymour. The Irish National Cyclocross Championships are taking place in Rostrevor on January the 10th. Nestled neatly between these championships is the Orwell Wheelers Cyclocross Championships.

Orwell Wheelers Cyclocross Kampioenschap Preview

Luke Potter & Eugene Dillon

The championship race was proposed by Stephen O’Shea at the AGM. It is intended to give the racers a last chance to hone their form for the Nationals the following week.

The race will take place in Corkagh Park at 10:00 am on Saturday January the 2nd.

There will be awards for the Elite Men, Elite Women, Vets and Juniors. Mountain Bikes are permitted. The entrance fee is €5. All spectators are more than welcome to attend and cheer their favourites. More details will be on the forum thread.

Meet the Competitors

Courtesy of Adrian McLeavey

The Favourite

Eric Downey will be the outright favourite. Eric’s road palmares include the Mick Lally Memorial A1 and a stylish domination of the 2013 Club League. Downey has been in fine form this season in the Fixx and DCCX series, scoring multiple Top 10 finishes in the A races. After his 7th place in the Leinster Championship Elite Mens race, no one can underestimate Eric Downey for this title. Thwarting Downey’s romp to another Club Championship Medal will be a time based handicap.

Sometimes in Cyclocross, mechanicals and the will of the CX Gods affect the outcome, meaning that the strongest rider does not always win, so lets meet the other Cyclocross regulars…

Courtesy of Adrian McLeavey

The Men

Not too far behind should be Valdis Andersons, a solid performer in the Club League and the open racing scene. This season Andersons decided to try his hand in Cyclocross when he heard one of the club members had acquired Diarmuid Collins’ winning CX bike but had it idle. Andersons has put the bike to great use since, competing in four races. In the most recent B-race, Andersons got off to a great start but was struck with mechanical (chain) and a tumble yet still managed to finish 13th. Andersons will be hunting for more success after his domination at the Orwell Hamper Race.

Another classy rider taking to the start is Aidan Collins. His Cyclocross season began with the GrangeCastle round of the Fixx series where he took a smooth 10th place in the B race. His latest outing, in Kilternan, ended with a rear derailleur failure.

Barry Keogh is another regular performer on the scene. Barry was the highest place Orwell rider in Glencullen. He also scored a Top 10 in the CrossMas race at the Leinster Championships.

Courtesy of Adrian McLeavey

Besieged by mechanicals and not wanting to get his new flouro CX shoes dirty, Mike ‘bling’ Hanley is hoping luck will stay on his side and he will get to show his talent on the most important platform for an Orwell Wheeler.

John Blennerhassett and Richard Cattle are expected to resume hostilities. Cattle scored his sole victory over JB in the CrossMas race. But the two are frequently in close quarters competition with Hanley. Who will emerge in the struggle in the last chance saloon?

A recent addition to the scene, Eddie Lynch, will be looking continue to keep pace with Cattle and Blennerhassett. Eddie has been close to the two in his latest pair of outings.

Likewise Luke GJ Potter and Barry Mooney will continue their mano-a-mano battle from Kilruddery. Since Mooney’s bike length victory, he has beaten Potter in the Leinster Championship race. Luke GJ enacted revenge in Kilternan, and is hoping to repeat the feat by continuing the form that seen him as the highest placed Orwell rider at the recent PunchesCross race. Going into the Championship race, Mooney is winning the head-to-head 3-2.

Outsiders who could come in unexpectedly and win include David Maher, Fionn Sheridan and Diarmuid Collins. Collins has a 100% win rate record in B cyclocross races taking victory in GrangeCastle in 2013 and Rathfarnham B race in August. However promptly after Rathfarnham, Collins sold his lucky Focus CX bike (which Andersons has been competing on). Collins is planning on taking part in the race on a MTB. Despite being at a disadvantage on a MTB, Collins may put up a good fight.

Other riders who have been on the CX scene include Phillipe Bourdarias, Diarmuid Donnelly, Ciaran Keogh, Eddie Lynch, Timothy Goodyer and Luke Keating.

Courtesy of Stephen O'Shea

The Women

Orla Hendron is the favourite for the women's title. The two time World Champion on the track in several disciplines (points race 2010 F45-49, 2000m F50-54 2014) is an accomplished time trialist who, once out on her own, knows how to forge ahead and maintain the gap. In the first PunchesCross race, Hendron managed to catch many of the men’s field despite their two minute head start. On her second outing in Glencullen, Hendron had issues with the fencing but still managed to come in 8th place. Hendron has taken podiums in several women's cyclocross races, with the most recent being the last cyclocross race PunchesCross, showing that her form is in exactly the right place it should be.

Courtesy of Stephen O'Shea

Monica Marconi is looking to recapture her impressive early season form with a 7th in Glencullen after a mixup on the last lap of the Grange Castle race which would’ve seen her net a much higher place. Is Marconi’s 4th place in PunchesCross an indication that she is getting back to her best?

Breda Horan has been improving all season. Horan took the top Orwell place in the mud of Kilruddery when she came fourth and was 16 seconds off a podium position in Kilternan. Horan has been building solidly on her results (9th in Glencullen, 8th in Tymon Park) and a podium spot in the open CX races is well within her sights.

Brianne Mulvihill has suffered from mechanicals on several occasions such as Tymon Park and Glencullen but if she can avoid any such issues she has a great chance. Mulvihill is a classic kampieonschap renster who likes to perform well in championship events such as the National Road Race Championships this year and in the Orwell Club Championship Time Trials (silver in 10TT and 25TT).

Naoise Sheridan’s last outing at the Leinster Championships was mired by a mechanical and may not have a bike for the event. Sheridan has scored two Top 10s already this season.

Aishling O’Connor was looking like a top ten place until an unfortunate crash on the off-camber corners in Tymon Park derailed her efforts.

Sandra Telford will look to continue her upward trajectory of results. She recently recorded a Top 10 in Kilternan after finishing 12th in Glencullen.

Emma Convey is a true Cyclocrosser, racing extensively in the Ulster CX series which have often proven to be true mud fests. Convey is planning on racing in Ulster the weekend of the CX champs so may not be able to take part.

Siobhan Duggan has also been active on the CX scene, but has indicated that she may not be present.