Vitus Bikes’ Colin Ross put in a stormer of a ride at the opening round of the 2018 Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup to claim the win.
Firing on all cylinders, Ross led home defending champion Nathan McComb in second, with Glyn O’Brien third, marking a Vitus clean sweep of the podium.
In the Under 21 category Jack Devlin was the rider to beat, while Michelle Muldoon took first in the Women’s class.
“It’s been an awesome day out,” told Ross following the podium celebrations. “Honestly I wasn’t sure how things would go today because conditions were tough and muddy.
“But I had a good run on every stage, didn’t make many mistakes and that seems to have made the difference today.”
With Castlewellan playing host to the eagerly awaited 2018 First Tracks Enduro Cup series opener, a large entry turned out to kick start their racing season.
Hard at work over the winter months, organisers had marked out a 20 kilometre course, with five stages mixing the best bits of the trail centre with fresh forestry tracks.
Naturally, with Ireland undergoing a seemingly endless winter, conditions were initially wet, muddy and at times hellishly technical, but rapidly improved during the two days.
Pro Men — Untouchable Rosco
With the bit between his teeth, Ross was in determined form and immediately set the pace from the off.
Topping stage one — the most technical — he then went on to pull three seconds clear of McComb on stage two.
Again winning stage three, Ross went on to show his winter’s XC training wasn’t in vain by smashing the final two stages to pull clear for an 11-second margin of victory.
“I was really nervous about stage one, especially the top part because it was so tricky but once I got past that I found my groove,” continued Ross.
“I still had some power in my legs for the final two stages and was able to push on to the end.”
Chasing Ross home for second, McComb didn’t quite have the answer for him around Castlewellan.
Placing second on each stage, the Vitus First Tracks Race Division rider had to settle for the runner-up result.
“Colin was on fire today, so hats off to him for that,” approved McComb. “After spending most of the winter in Spain I had to quickly adjust to the mud, but I definitely felt like my riding improved with each stage.
“I’ve got a couple of weeks until round two in Bigwood to work on a few things where hopefully I can come back out swinging there.”
Fighting hard all day for the final step of the podium with James MacFerran (Cycleogloy Racing), O’Brien (Vitus First Tracks Race Division) took third.
Super smooth and consistent all day, O’Brien placed third on the first four stages to get the job done.
“I’m delighted to end round one on the podium with third,” said O’Brien. “It’s great to get the championship off to a solid start like this. Conditions were tough today, but once we got some sun in the afternoon, the trails were riding sweet.
“I’m looking forward now to Bigwood, I always enjoy that one so hopefully I can keep this form going.”
With MacFerran pushed back into fourth, Jamie McCullough (Fluid Racing) completed the top five with fifth, while Ben Irwin (Mech Monkey/Tiro Nutrition) was sixth.
Under 21 — Devlin on winning form
Riding with the Pro Class, Jack Devlin (Vitus First Tracks Race Division) used the pace to his advantage and rode home to a clear win in the Under 21 class.
Celebrating his 19th birthday in style, Devlin topped the podium by 28 seconds — his pace was good enough for fourth outright.
“It was really good riding with the Pro class today, they really pushed me on,” said Devlin. “I was a bit nervous dropping into stage one but then began to find my pace as the day progressed.”
Harry Byrne (Expert Cycles) took runner-up result, helped in part by a win on stage two, while Drew Armstrong (Mech Monkey) fastest on stage one, completed the top three.
Women — Muldoon dominates
In the Women’s class, the day belonged to Flow MTB’s Michelle Muldoon. On form following her Grassroots Enduro win last weekend in Cork, Muldoon swept all five stages.
Hannah Harvey was runner-up while Tracy Bisbin made the trip from Spain worthwhile with third.
The Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup continues with round two in Bigwood, Newry on May 12/13.
Complete Results: Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup, Rnd 1
- Glyn O’Brien: “First Tracks Enduro Cup is going to be a Season of Savages!”
- Your 2018 Irish Mountain Biking Enduro Guide
- 15 great reasons to race Grassroots Enduro at Bike Park Ireland