Aiken eyes World Champs after surviving crash to win big

Posted on: January 8th, 2017

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Roger Aiken was a class apart and saw months of work come to fruition on the biggest stage (Photos with thanks to Toby Watson)

 

By Brian Canty

Roger Aiken celebrated his fifth national cyclocross title victory this afternoon after a convincing win in Tollymore Forest Park, Co Down.

The Banbridge man, riding unattached this year, had an early mishap when he came down on the opening lap and was forced into a frantic chase as the race disappeared up the course.


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He’s too experienced to panic so instead he measured his effort and slowly reeled in leader Gareth McKee of Banbridge CC who was then dispatched, like all the other challengers.

“I was down as the favourite so there was pressure to perform,” he said after his winning ride.

“But after a fall on the first lap I tried not to panic and once I got to the front I set my own pace and that was enough.”

Aiken hit the deck when he tried to clear a log but got the timing of his leap wrong.

“I’d cleared it in practice and it didn’t work out in the race but thankfully I was okay and I was able to get up pretty quickly.

“I was maybe 10 seconds off the front but I was able to close that pretty quickly. I felt strong.”

And on the second of seven laps, with his heart rate back to ‘normal’ he went for broke with his trademark burst.

“Starting the second lap I was able to distance myself and climb up the course. It was Gareth and Christopher McGlinchey behind me and then that was it.”

 

Aiken is hoping to be selected for the World Championships having been so dominant this season (Photo: Toby Watson)

 

McKee would pay for his early efforts and Glenn Kinning would eventually come in for second, with McGlinchey third.

“After I got a gap it was all about focussing the effort so you don’t explode,” explained the eventual winner.

“You have to pace yourself on such a hard course. You could go ‘bang’ and go back to the guys chasing you.

“So it’s about being smooth, not making silly mistakes and just riding hard.”

Aiken revealed that he didn’t ease off his training during Christmas and “probably did too much”.

“Thankfully I was able to recover. It was all for today. I rode those earlier races as hard as I could from mid-November on but I was using them as preparation for this.

“This has been on my mind since August and I’ve been working hard since then.”

Aiken will now turn his attention to the road but reckons he won’t race beyond May, and the An Post Ras is out of the question after falling out of love with it last year.

“My days of the Rás are over. I didn’t miss it last year when I didn’t do it. Maybe I’ll get selected on an Irish team for the world (cyclocross) championships so we’ll see.”

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