Ballymoney Dentist Jason Henry recently claimed his first national cyclocross title in the Masters (40-49 years) category with a swashbuckling show of strength against a stellar field.
Jason, a current national track champion having won a gold medal at the track nationals last September in the sprint, he has now added another medal to his ever increasing collection.
There was not a happier man in Irish cycling than Henry when he crossed the line.
“It doesn’t get any better,” commented Henry.
“I came second last year and third the year before so its great to know what it’s like to come first and let me tell you I worked hard for it.
“It really makes up for last year.
“I knew I had some good form and I made sure I stayed focussed throughout the tough bits.
“I kept my head and kept it real. I’ve worked harder for this than anything I’ve ever done.
“The course, the uphill sprints; you go into the red and you have to be able to recover again soon. Thankfully I managed to keep that balance of pushing on and not going too deep.”
There was a strong field for the event, but Henry set his stall out early on, yet on a course with some really steep ramps that made the racing even harder than the low temperatures and strong breeze, he had plenty to spare at the end.
Jason added that for a rider who many might regard as a sprinter, he was delighted to show he could win on such a hard course well clear on his own.
“I knew Anthony Doyle would probably be the man to beat,” he said.
“I thought if I rattled him early on, let him know I was there, I thought it might crack him.
“He seemed to break on the third lap and from then on it was a case of staying focused. On the hard straight stretch I kept the power down and thankfully it worked.
“It was nice to win solo in the cyclocross and show all those guys who labelled me as a sprinter.”
Henry and Doyle were side by side for the first two laps but the new champion got a gap on the third loop and wasn’t seen again before the finish.
“It was a case of keeping the head,” he explained.
“Coming into the race I said to myself: ‘You’ve done the training so there’s no point worrying about the other guys, you’re racing against yourself’.
“I’m on top of the world but I can’t wait to get back to normal life and look after my family. I’ve really neglected them in the last month.”
Ballymoney dentist Jason took the title from Des Woods (Newry Wheelers) and Peter McConville (Newry Wheelers).