WITH the new year dawning Dundalk will not have to wait long to host its first major sporting event of the year. On January 13th Cuchulainn Cycling Club will be hosting the National Cyclocross Championships.
Cyclocross is a winter sport that originated in Europe as a way for the road riders to keep fit in the off season.
The races are short, 60-minute, multi-lap affairs, held over a mixture of gravel, grass, road and include multiple obstacles that force riders to dismount and carry their bikes.
Races in Belgium regularly attract crowds upwards of 15,000 and a festival atmosphere is guaranteed with the much-frequented 'beer tent' being a focal point of the day.
Race director Myles McCorry has designed a course at Muirhevnamor Park that will include fast track sections along with technical obstacles. McCorry said: 'Having raced Cyclocross in Belgium and Holland I have picked up a few ideas of course features that are challenging to the riders and also make for a great spectacle'.
Over the last two years McCorry has staged successful races at Belurgan Park, that were very highly rated by all participants. The National Championships will see a support race warm the crowd up before the main race.
The Cyclocross season is currently in full swing in Ireland. The country has two main leagues, an Ulster-based league and the Fixx Cross League based in Dublin. Cuchulainn Cross veteran, Johnny McCabe, is currently near the top of the leader board in both leagues.
The Dublin league is being led by two-time Olympian and nine-time National Cyclocross Champion Robin Seymour. Meanwhile in Ulster, former professional cyclist and one time National Cyclocross Champion Roger Aiken is leading the proceedings there.
The last five seasons have seen these two riders dominant on their own territory and then come head to head at the National Championships, with Seyomour getting the better of Aiken on most occasions. Dundalk's Muirhevnamor Park will be the next battleground for the champion and his closest challenger.