Champion McCluskey on the pressure of being title favourite

Posted on: January 9th, 2017


Beth McCluskey was a class apart in the elite national cyclocross championships, storming to victory for the second year in-a-row. The Jadan-Weldtite woman had an early mishap – just like elite men’s winner Roger Aiken – but recovered to take the title (Photo: Toby Watson)


By Brian Canty

Beth McCluskey took her second national cyclocross title in succession yesterday after a hard-fought battle with Maria Larkin (Chicago Cuttin’ Crew) and Fiona Meade (Blarney Stone CC).

The Dubliner, victorious in 2016, endured a nervous moment on lap two when she almost lost control on a descent but managed to gather herself just in time.

And because of the pressure on her to win, she admitted it was even sweeter to win this time around.

“I think it was sweeter as there was no expectation of me last year but this year there was a little bit of pressure, so to retain the title is really sweet,” she said.

“I had a scary moment on the second lap when I was going down a technical bit in the forest and I hit something too hard and the handlebars moved. I kind of screamed I got such a fright.”



Beth McCluskey (Jadan-Weldtite) embraces runners-up Maria Larkin (Chicago Cuttin’ Crew) and Fiona Meade (Blarney Stone CC) at the end of today’s title decider in Co. Down. (Photo: Toby Watson)


At that point she had gone past the pits so had to ride with the misaligned bars.

“I was going to swap bikes the next time around but it seemed okay.

“I kept on going and went a bit easier on the technical bit the next time,” she recalled of her strategy thereafter.

“I got a gap the first time up the climb and that was where I had hoped to make my mark.

“And after that every time up the climb I put in a good effort as I knew Maria (Larkin) would probably be faster on the technical bits.

“Maria and Fiona had a great battle for second but Fiona had too much pressure in her tyres and struggled on the muddy corners. She’ll be one go watch for next year.”