Glyn O’Brien signs off on the 2018 Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup in style winning the final round of the season in Tollymore to be crowned champion.
In what’s been a Season of Savages, the fourth and final stop in this year’s championship chase, saw O’Brien (First Tracks Race Division) come out on top for the third race in a row to clinch the Pro Men title over outgoing champion and teammate Nathan McComb with Jamie McCullough (Fluid Racing) completing the top three.
There were celebrations across the board with titles decided in the majority of classes at Tollymore. Jack Devlin was crowned Under 21 men champion, Hannah Harvey won the Women’s title and Niall Clerkin (East Coast MTB) rode away with the Junior Men’s crown.
After a lengthy 12-week break since round three in Rostrevor, the summer spell of dry weather held out one more time to deliver near-perfect racing conditions for the 214 riders entered. Five stages and about a 20-kilometre loop were the order of the day in one of Ireland’s finest forestry for mountain biking.
With a little bit of everything from loamy berms to gap jumps, technical rocks and roots to plain old ‘pin-it-to-win-it’ sections, it was a course the most agreed marked a fitting end to a cracking season.
O’Brien holds control
At the head of the field, the outcome of this year’s championship was yet to be decided. With two round wins on the bounce, O’Brien had the upper hand, but with closest rival McComb yet to nab a victory, he wasn’t going to be handed an easy ride to the top step of the podium. However, drama struck McComb on stage one quite literally when a crash resulted in some heavy facial injures and he would be forced to call it an early day.
Taking the opening stage win, O’Brien was already up to speed and backing that up in stages two and three saw him almost 19 seconds clear of McCullough in second. McCullough answered back with a stage four win, but it wasn’t enough to reel O’Brien in and both the victory and 2018 Pro Men title were his.
Holding on for second, McCullough fended off a final stage win by Peter Davison (Velo Cafe Magasin) to claim the runner-up result and with it third in the series. Putting in his best ride of the championship, Andrew Godfrey finished just four seconds behind Davison to take fourth, while James MacFerran (Cycleology Racing) – back racing after a summer of injury – completed the Pro Men top five.
Hawkins wins but Devlin takes Under 21 title
With the Under 21 Men’s title undecided, Aidan Hawkins (Mourne Cycles) kept championship leader Devlin honest throughout. Swapping stage wins between them, the scores were pretty much level with two stages left to run.
Finding a bit more in his legs, Hawkins pulled clear on the final two to take his first win of 2018. Although forced to play runner-up in Tollymore, Devlin had enough in hand to take the title. Campbell Brown (Mixtape Mob) finished 56 seconds behind the duo for third.
Cumming takes debut win in debut enduro
In the Junior Men, Tollymore saw Downhill pinner Chris Cumming (Wideopen) make his enduro debut a memorable one. Taking three stage wins from five, Cumming rode to a comfortable win over Niall Clerkin. However, second was enough for Clerkin to claim the Junior crown.
The fight for the final step on the podium went down to the wire with Joel Hamilton (Shimna Wheelers) edging out Scott Roberts (McConvey Cycles) for third. Despite picking up two stage wins, the wheels came off Morgan Steele’s wagon on the final stage pushing him back to fifth.
Harvey takes Women’s win
Like always the Women’s class produced one of the closest battles for the top step of the podium with Hannah Harvey and Meave Baxter (Cuchulainn) fighting it out for victory. With three wins to her credit, Harvey snatched it by the narrowest of margins with just 59 hundredths of a second in her favour after almost 16 minutes of timed stages.
Garrett and Smiley neck-and-neck
If the Women’s class was close, the Senior Men’s was even closer between Jason Garrett (Balance Leisure Fitness) and Adam Smiley (Dirt Monkeys), with just 18 hundredths separating the duo. Smiley had three stages wins to Garrett’s two, but Garrett played a blinder on stages two and three to get the job done. However, second on the day was enough for Smiley to sign off 2018 as Senior Men’s champion.
In the Master A Men it was a win for Kyle Nelson (Blade Brother Racing) over Chris Mallen and Philip Mullan (SMTB). Nick Rocks (White Knuckle) was the man to beat in Master B Men taking a seven-second win over Craig Nelson (Craig Nelson Joinery) and James Edwards (The Cat).
Veteran Men honours went to first timer Brian Steele with Conor Campbell (Greenbikes) second and Michael Down (Chain Reaction Cycles) third. With a clean sweep of stages, John Glover (Plush MTB) topped the Super Vet Men podium from Stephen McDonald (Doggy Paws) and Norman Atkins (Velo Culture).
The Hardtail men saw Nathan McCormick (Ragley Bikes) score his second win of 2018 over Patrick Grant and Alan Ayling (Gravity BC) to take the title.
With four rounds done and (mostly) dusted in Castlewellan, Bigwood, Rostrevor and Tollymore, Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup’s 2018 Season of Savages is a wrap. Roll on 2019…
Final Championship Standings
1. Glyn O’Brien (Vitus First Tracks Race Division) 225pts; 2. Nathan McComb (First Tracks Race Division) 145pts. 3. Jamie McCullough (Fluid Racing) 118pts; 4. Ben Irwin (Mech Monkey) 117pts; 5. Andrew Godfrey 116pts…
Under 21 Men
1. Jack Devlin (Vitus First Tracks Race Division) 220pts; 2. Aidan Hawkins (Mourne Cycles) 177pts; 3. Drew Armstrong (Mech Monkey) 155pts…
1. Niall Clerkin (East Coast MTB) 196pts; 2. Scott Roberts (McConvey Cycles) 145pts; 3. Robbie Dugan 144pts…
1. Hannah Harvey 205pts; 2. Meave Baxter 170pts; 3. Michelle Muldoon 110pts…
Complete Results: Tollymore, First Tracks Enduro Cup, Round 4
Event Photography – Industry Image
Saturdays photos now online, Sunday images to follow Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup https://www.industryimage.com/vitus-first-tracks-rd-4