The Coillte Biking Blitz kicked off the 2019 Irish MTB season in style with a bumper turn out of riders for the series opener at Ballinastoe in Wicklow.
With well over 350 competitors taking on the Ballinastoe trails during the day, it was young teenage talent of Lee Harvey who unofficially led the field home, while Expert Cycles’ Paul Caldwell took the Super Pro win.
Marking the ninth edition of the Coillte Biking Blitz four-round series, riders were treated to near-perfect winter weather conditions for the first outing of 2019.
A busy day’s racing saw youth categories from Striders and Under 6 to Under 16 compete on a shortened course in the morning. The afternoon saw the Super Pro category knuckle down for two-laps of the leg-tightening 40-minute-plus lap, with the more-relaxed Baggy Shorts class settling into one lap of Ballinastoe’s all-weather trails.
After the long winter off-season, some 257 adult competitors were itching for competitive action. EWS regular Kelan Grant, plus Irish enduro stars Glyn O’Brien, Drew Armstrong, Jack Devlin, Harry Byrne and Garreth Davis were in the mix and keen to pace themselves against some of the country’s top XC riders.
Harvey Sets The Pace
Of those hungry for success, it was Junior star Lee Harvey who was one of the first to pick up control of the race during the mass start. Quickly followed by Caldwell, the duo set a blisteringly fast pace on the opening lap to break clear of the pack.
With the pair unchallenged for the final lap, Harvey eventually edged out Caldwell in the sprint for the line to comfortably take the Junior win, with Caldwell content in taking the Super Pro category.
One minute behind, Garreth Davis (Team Biking.ie) and Harry Byrne (Expert Cycles) went head-to-head for the remainder of the Super Pro podium. Byrne held the upper hand on lap one, but boxing clever in the final sprint, Davis found a bit more steam in his legs to snatch the runner-up result.
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What a class day! The first @bikingblitz went surprisingly well. Hit the first trail somewhere in the top 15, spent the first lap picking riders off and eventually ended up 2nd behind @gingerp0wer And just ahead of @harryj.byrne after spending most of the race riding together cordially only to finish with monstrous battle through the last few trails! Great fun and I was honestly spent after that last sprint! 2.5 minutes quicker than last year's time so delighted with that! Flawless event by @biking_ie as always. Onto Ballyhoura in 2 weeks ✌😎 Thanks for all the shouts of support! FYI that's my nephew Nathan on the podium with me 😄 #bikesofinstagram #racing #snow #hardship #mtb #crosscountry #bikinginireland #vitusbikes #goodtimes #mtb #cycling #realtalk @vitusbikes @ionactionsports @gformprotects @biking_ie @teambiking.ie
In a close battle for the top five, Feidhlim Dignan and Colm Mullen were tied together for the duration of the two laps, with Dignan grabbing fourth at the end.
Brian Melia and David Murray placed sixth and seventh respectively, while Grant had the XC legs for eighth. Vinnie Fitzsimon and Peter Davison completed the top ten.
One lap was scheduled for Junior, but both Lee and Dean Harvey opted for two. They were joined on the podium by Caoimhe May in third.
Bula The Rider To Beat In Super Pro Women
Ballinastoe saw 30 women sign up to compete, with 12 tackling the Super Pro Women category. Joanna Bula secured the top step of the podium, beating Maeve O’Grady by 22 seconds for the win despite a late charge by O’Grady. Leah McCarthy took third.
Orsolva Csikesz was fastest in the Baggy Shorts Women class, crossing the line just six seconds ahead of Niamh Stephens in second. Rebecca Bradford rounded out the top three.
The overall Baggy Shorts class was won by David McCarthy. Paul Kane and Marc Brunet Cabre joined him on the podium for second and third respectively.
A honorary mention also goes to Souryan Dubois who placed 89th (of 125) in the Baggy Shorts class riding a Unicycle!
2019 Coillte Biking Blitz
- Round 1: February 10 – Ballinastoe, Co. Wicklow
- Round 2: February 24 – Ballyhoura, Co. Limerick
- Round 3: March 10 – Derroura, Galway
- Round 4: March 24 – Ticknock, Dublin
The Coillte Biking Blitz continues with round two at Ballyhoura, Co. Limerick on February 24th.
For registration and info, check out www.bikingblitz.ie
Results – Coillte Biking Blitz, Ballinastoe – Round 1
Coillte Biking Blitz Complete Results – Round 1: www.redtagtiming.com
Biking Blitz Event Photography
John Hammers Photo Page
Adrian Van Der Lee
A bit nippy up there today for 2019 Biking Blitz Round 1 but lovely light for photographs. All my photos are now…