K-Capital Cup – Round 2 Preview – Easter Parade At Moneyscalp

This Sunday, 23rd March, round two of the International K-Capital MTB XCO Series will be held at Moneyscalp Forest near Newcastle in County Down. Round one of the series in Bray attracted a record 263 entries. The event is promoted by Banbridge Cycling Club. Confusion has been caused in some circles as to the venue, with Tollymore being listed in the calendar. The race was originally set for Tollymore but on the advice from the NI Forest Service the race had to be switched to Moneyscalp Wood, which in fact is an annex of Tollymore.

Better known as a Downhill venue, Moneyscalp’s MTB trails where born in 1994 with the Forest Service providing a venue for the growing sport of MTB. The site included a couple of purpose built XC trails which added to the existing DH track. Over the years the XC trails lost their popularity as no maintenance was carried out on them, they became overgrown and in many cases blocked by fallen trees. Enter Banbridge CC. Over the past two months, a small but very dedicated team from the promoting Club has worked tirelessly to open up much of the old trail network in order to construct a course worthy of K-Capital status. Last weekend the course was completed as torrential rain lashed down on the venue on Saturday. The rain damaged much of the back (bridge) bridge section of the course with the result that the organisers may only use part of this section on race day.

On a brighter note, the entry for Round 2 is looking good. Due to other commitments the BCF Squad, who enjoyed the trip to Round one, are unable to make the trip, however their place has been taken by top Belgian MTB Squad, Team Barracuda. Leading the team is Patrick Gaudy, 8th ranked Elite rider in Belgium. He is joined by Cedric Gaudy, winner of the prestigious Wallonia Cup in 2007. The youngest member of the team is Jorgen Flion, 6th ranked U-23 Belgian MTB rider. The presence of the Belgian squad will certainly bring a truly international flavour to the event. The entry also includes Welsh rider Lee Williams who produced a superb ride in round one to pace himself to third place. Adrian Lansley (Pedalon) is a great supporter of Irish MTB and he makes the trip to Moneyscalp after securing 5th place in round one. Another exciting entry is that of Paul Beale of Team Orange Monkey, Paul will be making his Irish debut.

For the Irish Elite riders this will be another chance to pit their talents against strong visiting opposition. For Robin Seymour (Team WORC), Niall Davis (IMBRC) and Conor McConvey (McConvey Cycles) it will be part two of the ‘race to Beijing’, the trio chasing the Irish MTB ride at the 2008 Olympics. In round one Robin finished second to British Champion Oli Beckingsale while Niall finished sixth. Conor was forced to miss the first round after sustaining a broken shoulder in an accident, though he finished a brilliant second in a road race last Saturday. The rider who scores the most points over the first three K-Cap races gets the Irish ride at the Olympics.

The Moneyscalp course measures roughly 5km in length. The start line will be situated at the bottom of the main Moneyscalp fire road climb. From the start the course goes uphill, passed the finish line and feed/tech zones, after 500m the course turns right into a descent that provides the riders with their first section of single track. On the exit from this loop the course rejoins the fire road for a gentle climb to a smaller single track loop which veers off to the left then crosses the fire road to the right for another fast single track loop. Exiting this loop the course rejoins the fire road climb with the riders reaching the top of the climb and the open expanses of the harvested section of Moneyscalp Wood.

The course remains the on fire road as riders get a great view of Northern Ireland (weather permitting) and also gives the chance for speed and overtaking. This section ends with the course veering left down an embankment into what has been termed the ‘mud pit’. This is the section that was damaged by the rain. The organisers will wait to Friday to see what the weather forecast is and also consult with the UCI Commissaire before making a final decision on this section. However it is likely that only part of this section will be used which will be a pity as around 50 hours of work went onto the building of bridges. The exit of this section brings the riders back onto the fire road for a short sprint down to the main single track section on the course. The course turns into the forest on the left side of the road at the point where the downhill course enters the trees. A new section has been cut for the XC race but still includes the exciting rock garden. The course leaves the top of the DH section and crosses into the main forest area for a fast flowing single track experience. This section features a few descents and a couple of short and sharp uphill challenges.

This part of the course follows the old XC trails built by the Forest Service, and brings the riders near to the opening climb from the start. From here the course turns back across the Moneyscalp slope using parts of the old DH course. This brings the riders down the slope to within sight of the finish area with the next challenge being a rocky section which features riding along a ledge and then down a rocky drop off. For the faint hearted an alternative route will be provided. From here the course follows a grassy single track section across the slope to the bottom of the main DH course. Riders exit this section close to the main entrance and continue up the fire road towards the finish. But then comes the sting in the tail! Before the finish the course veers right at the bottom of the hill onto a fast single track section that begins the final loop. This loop maybe fast but the end of it includes a short but tough climb that brings the riders back to the fire road and the short sprint to the finish. Riders please note that when you are practicing, the single track that you see at the bottom of the hill will be the last section on the course, not the first.

Sign on will be located at the main gate with toilets also provided. Car Parking is not permitted on the road for safety reasons however the organisers gave hired a field for parking. This is located just up the road from the main entrance to the Forest and just across the road from the main entry to Tory Bush Holiday Cottages. Please be aware that the Circuit of Ireland Rally will be based in the Newcastle area over the weekend so it is advisable to plan your route to Moneyscalp avoiding both Newcastle and Castlewellan. The favoured routes would be Banbridge/Rathfriland, following the Castlewellan Road to Kilcoo and veering right up the hill, a road which will bring you directly to Moneyscalp. Travelling from Newry the best route is to Hilltwom then follow signs for Castlewellan. This route will proceed to Kilcoo, again take the road off to the right which goes uphill. Another route is exit Hilltwon and follow signs for Newcastle/Killkeel/Spelga Dam. Approx 4 miles out of Hilltown a left turn is made onto the Newcastle road, this leading to Moneyscalp.

Of course Sunday is also Easter Sunday, so please remember that local shops may not be open so bring any essential supplies. The weather for Sunday at present gives wintry showers so please bring suitable clothing. Details of race times and entry fees can be found on the K-Capital website www.kcapitalcup.com. Finally as it is Easter Sunday, the roads will be busy, so set off for Moneyscalp in good time.

Downhill riders please note that the Downhill course will be out of use from 2pm-4pm on Saturday and from 10am-4.30pm on Sunday. Banbridge CC applogises to all DH riders.

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