Rider David Gillick, a surprise participant in the National Cyclocross Championships held in Armagh this weekend

The first national titles of the national cycling season will be awarded this weekend when the National Cyclocross Championships take place today and tomorrow at the Palace Demesne in downtown Armagh.

The races begin this morning, with non-championship events for runners as young as U-6 to U-12, before the first medals of the year are awarded for the U-14 and U-16 races in the ‘afternoon.

Tomorrow, with senior titles on the line for both men and women and with many national riders having recently tasted the sweat of the mud and the gear of international cyclocross, the competition is sure to be fierce on the muddy plains of Armagh.

After Covid brings last year’s event to a halt, the distinctive national champion’s jersey will once again be up for grabs and with defending champion David Conroy missing from the starting list, the senior men’s event will see the jersey change from main for the first time since 2020.

Among the contenders, Meathman Seán Nolan of EvoPro Racing has spent much of the winter in Belgium in the main European cross races and his recent form has secured him the Leinster title in preparation for tomorrow’s event. . Nolan will start at the top of the grid ahead of compatriot Meathman Timmy O’Regan (All human VeloRevolution), a seasoned activist who has also had a taste of international competition this year.

Behind them, Chris McGlinchey (Spectra Wiggle) will look to outdo silver in his final title race while O’Regan’s teammate and Munster champion Richard Maes has been in great shape recently, winning the Round. Cross in Cork last weekend. despite breaking a shoe clasp in the last laps.

Connaught Westport champion Anthony Murray also hopes to impress, while a surprise participant in the men’s event is former Olympian and 2005 European 400m indoor champion David Gillick, who rides for CSS Tallaght Wheelers.

In a sport where mud, sand, jumps, steps and fatigue forcing cyclists off the bike the norm, Gillick is hoping for plenty of racing sections on the Armagh course. US-based Maria Larkin recently returned from Chicago to compete in pre-race preparation events for the ladies. Riding for the U.S. professional team Donkey Label, the defending champion won the fifth round of the Munster Cyclocross Series before Christmas and last week won the fourth round of the Big Red Cloud League at Dundalk.

Connacht Larkin champion will lead the ladies’ grid, but fellow provincial champions Grace Young, Darcey Harkness and Stephanie Roche all hope to overthrow her when the race begins tomorrow at 12:50 pm.

Munster champion Young recently finished second behind Larkin in Cork, while Roche is the current Leinster champion and cousin of recently retired WorldTour pro Nicolas Roche. The Quanta Racing rider recently picked up victories in Clonmel, Kells and Jenkinstown and will aim to add another title to the Roche family name.

While there is no junior women’s event, the junior men have an early start this morning at 9.45am, with Fermoy’s Liam O’Brien hoping his experience representing Ireland and making it into the top 20 first at the European Junior Championships will hold him in good stead. for the U-18 title race.

The senior men’s event starts tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. with most races scheduled to last just under an hour depending on conditions. You can follow all the action live from 12:30 p.m. today on Independent.ie

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