Unstoppable Seymour races to title
He may have recently turned 40, but Team WORC's Robin Seymour showed no signs of old age slowing him down when he stormed to an unprecedented 18th national cyclo-cross title in St Anne's Park, Raheny.
Seymour began the nine-lap race well, sticking close as nearest rivals and eventual fellow medalists Matt Adair and Roger Aiken applied the pressure on the opening laps.
When Aiken took over on the front from his Banbridge team-mate towards the end of the second lap, Adair unshipped his chain on the one of the course's many hills. Seymour was lying in wait and took full advantage.
"I hadn't really planned to go so early," said the Wicklow man afterwards. "I was comfortable following Matt and then Roger on the first two laps and was reasonably confident at that point, but I think once you get your opportunity in a race like this you have to seize it.
"The championship is a one-day event. It's all or nothing and, if you lose, you have to wait another year to get the chance again, so I knew I had to really go for it."
Soon, Seymour was gliding through the mud, sailing up the ramps and sprinting up the steps with his bike on his shoulder. As each lap passed, the gap began to grow slightly and soon his advantage was enough to put him out of sight of the chasers -- he finished a minute and a half clear of Aiken in the end.
"I got a few seconds gap and then I really had to work it and keep pushing," said Seymour. "In these situations the riders behind have to push flat out to catch you and that's when they can make mistakes, overshooting corners or taking a bad line.
"It happened me in Tymon Park in the SuperCross Cup, where I was playing catch-up and kept making mistakes and running into the bushes and stuff.
"Cyclo-cross is that kind of a sport, where if you slide wide on a corner or something the positions can easily be reversed and you find yourself chasing."
At 40, Seymour was entitled to ride the veterans race, but once again proved quicker than his younger opponents.
"I train just as hard now, maybe a bit smarter than I did five or 10 years ago, but the consistency that I had when I was younger is not there ," he admitted.
"At my age, I struggle to maintain form now. I've had an up and down season so far and it's hard to know what I'll be like from one race to the next, so I'm delighted to have won and I'll keep on racing as long as I keep enjoying it."
Aiken managed to salvage silver ahead of team-mate Adair even though his chain continued to give him trouble throughout the race, a problem caused by a decision to change his front derailleur the night before.
"You make a decision on your gear and then you have to live with it," said a philosophical Aiken afterwards. "It's disappointing to have slipped my chain, but I have to be happy with second. Robin's a good rider and you have to be going really well to beat him."