Cube Action Team’s Greg Callaghan claimed a commanding victory at round one of the 2019 Gravity Enduro Ireland Series at a sun-kissed Ballinastoe. Callaghan topped the podium over Team Mavic CRC’s Kelan Grant with Specialized’s Killian Callaghan completing the top three.
Kona’s Leah Maunsell carded her 2019 MTB hat trick of victories by sweeping all five stages to win the Women’s class over Hannah Harvey (CRC Belfast) and Hannah Mullin (Green Bikes).
“I’m chuffed to get the win,” told Greg. “It’s been a while since I’ve lost a race at home, so there’s always added pressure to keep that win streak alive, especially against guys like Kelan and Killian.
“Today was tough on the legs with some big stages to contend with. But I held it together, limited my mistakes and I think that was key today. With 20 minutes of stage times you’re always going to slip up here and there, but I rolled with it and kept charging – it’s been a class day’s craic.”
The highly anticipated Vitus Bikes Gravity Enduro Ireland Series kicked off its 2019 season with its by now traditional Ballinastoe opener in Wicklow over Easter weekend. With summer weather in town, it was a golden opportunity for the 300-entry to cast away the winter thermals and breakout the short sleeved shirts.
With five stages planned across the 30-kilometre loop and 1000 metres of climbing, it was a big start to the year. Saturday’s practice cut the last of the winter crud off the trails and left Sunday with near-perfect racing conditions.
Callaghan Applies The Pressure
A stacked field of 19 Pro Men rolled out for round one, with EWS warriors Greg, Kelan and Killian favourites. However, Harry Byrne (Expert Cycles), Drew Armstrong (Vitus FTRD), Scott Wallace (Expert Cycles), Jonathan Maunsell (Team Ballyhoura) and Jack Devlin (Vitus FTRD) were all keen to get in the mix.
From the off, Greg Callaghan meant business. Laying down a cracker of a time he stopped the clock five seconds up on the flying Byrne, with both Grant and Callaghan a further two seconds adrift.
Another top time on stage two saw that lead grow further and a win on stage three allowed Callaghan to stretch his advantage out to 12 seconds over Grant entering the lunch stop. Going on to record a clean sweep of stages, with a belter of a time on stage five, Greg comfortably rode his way onto the step of the podium.
Grant Slips Into Second
Behind him, Grant found his groove after stage one, and although unable to reel Greg in, a string of runner-up times on the remaining stages secured him a well-deserved runner-up result.
“I’m happy with that effort today,” said Grant. “I knew Greg would be on it here – he always is – but I gave it my best. I’d liked to have cleaned up a couple of runs but I’m happy with second, it’s been a good day.”
Running third for the majority of the day, Killian couldn’t quite find the pace he needed to bridge the gap back to Grant and had to settle for third.
With a fast start to his day, Byrne lost ground to the leading trio midway through the day, but bounced back on stage five with the third fastest time for fourth overall.
The battle for fifth was tight between Armstrong and Wallace as they swapped positions. Making it count on the penultimate stage, Armstrong edged out Wallace for a top five result.
Maunsell Makes It A Clean Sweep
In the Women’s class there was no stopping Leah Maunsell as she raced to victory. Pushing hard from the off, Maunsell won all of the day’s stages to claim a commanding 50-second margin of victory.
Hannah Harvey didn’t have an answer to her rival this time around and had to be content with second, while 14-year-old Hannah Mullin continues to show her best with third ahead of Leah McCarthy and Marie Farrell.
Morrison Claims Under 21 Win
In the Under 21 Men, Mech Monkey’s Frazer Morrison topped four of five stages to race clear for the category win.
Behind him Dan Redmond held off Nathan Kelly – thanks to his stage two win – to bag the runner-up result. Craig Burton and Ross Callaghan (IMBRC) completed the top five.
The Junior class saw Niall Clerkin (Antinatural UK) add another win to his 2019 tally. The youngster put together a consistently strong day to secure the top step of the podium.
Despite fastest on stage one, and placing no lower than third, Brendan Conroy (Bespoke Cycles) had to be content with the runner-up result. Scott Roberts (McConvey Cycles) carded two top stage times on his way to third overall.
O’Grady Tops Senior Ranks
The Senior Men saw some of the days most competitive racing, with Joseph O’Grady edging out Stephen Mellon by five seconds for the win. William Volez took third.
Bikeology’s Nigel Glynn was the top dog of Masters A Men, storming to victory over Emmet Kelly (IMBRC) and Richard Carey (DKR). Peter Boaden was best of the Master B Men from Beefy Mullan (CRC Belfast) and Nick Rocks.
The Vets saw Andy Yoong come out on top over Paul McLoughlin and Peter O’Neill. Mark Keating topped the Super Vet Men from Brian Finnegan and Marcus Swail.
Alan Gilkinson was best in the Hardtail over Seamus Mulcahy and Yannick Galindo. Six e-bikes competed in Ballinastoe, with Gavin O’Connell proving the clear winner.
In the shortened three-stage Youth race, Callum Morris (Dirtyrides MTB) took the win over Macdaire Johnston and Darragh Ryan.
The Gravity Enduro Ireland Series continues with round two in Killaloe, Clare on May 18/19.
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Results – Gravity Enduro Ireland Series, Round 1
Complete Results: Gravity Enduro Ireland Series, Round 1
Event Photography: FMX Photography