Irish weekend preview

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

There is no lack of competition this weekend for the cyclo-cross competitors with events both north and south of the border in Ireland. Tomorrow in Ballymena, the local club is staging an event at the Showgrounds in the town with the start scheduled for midday. On Sunday the action switches to Kilcullen in Co. Kildare where Liam Walker is the master of ceremonies, with another midday start.

Liam was instrumental in kick-starting cyclo-cross on behalf of Cycling Ireland, and it is now a big success. "Originally when I started the revival of 'cross, the numbers were not great, to say the least," said Walker. "Thankfully, I stuck at the task and it is great to see the number of road cyclists who have become involved. Unfortunately from my perspective, we now have events on both Saturday and Sunday! Whereas a number of years ago, it was either day and promoters were always assured that the opposition would come from both sides of the border.

"It is great that 'cross is motoring, but at the moment, I have enquiries from clubs and venues who want to promote the sport, but there is no availability of dates. Anyhow, we can live with the problem for this season, but something will have to be addressed if the sport is to continue on its upward trend, in so far as dates are concerned next year."

Whilst the competitors involved in the action over the weekend will have to dabble in the mucky conditions that are part and parcel of the sport, spare a thought for Andrew McQuaid and Eugene Moriarty who go into action in the seven-day Tour of Southland in New Zealand. The field of 105 competitors will start the event with a team time trial, which is now becoming a welcome addition to stage racing, on Monday.

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