The Chainlink

Maria Larkin Takes 3rd in Irish Cyclocross National Championships

Photo by Sean Rowe

By Cathy Frampton

As an Irish native, Maria Larkin (Cuttin' Crew) returned home to compete in Ireland's Elite National Cyclocross competition on January 10th, the same day her American teammates were racing in Asheville. Maria took 3rd!  

Maria racing at Trek CX Cup, Photo by The Chainlink/Yasmeen Schuller

About Maria Larkin
Maria is originally from Balla, Co. Mayo. After interning in Chicago for a couple of summers, upon finishing college, Maria moved here to work full time as an architect in a local firm. That was three years ago. Combined with her internship summers, Maria has been racing in Chicago for around 5 years. She has raced track, road and cyclocross, and loves the cycling community here. Maria races with the Chicago Cuttin Crew , a small team which she says is more like a family than a team. 
For the 2015 season, Maria won the Chicago Cyclocross Cup Series overall for the Elite women and IL State Championship title. 
Because of the muddy conditions, riders have two, often identical, bikes that they swap out lap after lap. The pit crew will clean the one bike while the racer does a lap of the course, prepared for them to trade-off their now mucked up bike for the clean one. Maria was fortunate to have some fantastic support from Kyle and Sean. Photo by Loch Miwa

But Maria's sights for the season extended beyond winning the local and state championships. Maria yearned for the top step of the National Championships within her native country, Ireland. To prepare for that competition, Maria had to race more of the top tier races here in the US. She competed in 5 UCI races (International Cycling Union) and achieved her intermediary goal of a top 30 placing. The first of her 5 UCI races was also part of the World Cup Series. The announcer indicated that Maria was the 1st Irish Woman to EVER to participate in a World Cup Race. History was made. 
But that is not the end of the story.
Maria returned to Ireland in the first few days of 2016 and raced the Irish Cyclocross Nationals on January 10th. Last year, in her first attempt at Ireland's Nationals, Maria placed 2nd. Although unsure about what her direct competition had been doing all year for their preparations, Maria knew that with the additional training and focus she had invested, she was prepared to give 110% to the race. And race she did, with all of her legs, lungs, and heart - as did the other Irish women. This year, another podium - 3rd place - not the preferred step, but one that demonstrates that the quality of racing is improving globally and that, our Maria Larkin is coming home to Chicago a winner in our hearts - and, after a well-deserved rest - is most likely going to pour herself into her 2016 cyclocross season preparations and return to Ireland to finish out gathering her collection of podium steps. There is only one step remaining on the Irish National podium to complete the collection.

Maria had to fight back into the top 3 to make the podium. Tough work! Photo by Loch Miwa

But that, too, will not be the end of the story.
Ireland has yet to send a representative to the Cyclocross World Championships, this year held on January 30 in Belgium. It is Maria's dream, like she etched her name in this history books as Ireland's first representative in a World Cup race, to be the first Irish Cyclocross racer at the World Championships. 
And maybe, then, that will be the end of this chapter of the story.

Related Articles & Links:

Interview with The Chainlink (Local cycling website);
Link to Maria's website;

About the Author

Cathy Frampton ( began racing her bike in 2009. Recognizing a need to support women racers in Chicagoland that advance to the elite level of the sport, in 2015, she co-founded Chicago Women's Elite Cycling (CWEC), a not-for-profit rider development organization. CWEC offers seminars, on-the-bike clinics, and training rides for ALL riders interested in learning and improving. For the elite racers, CWEC provides the organizational structure and support to promote effective team-based racing in the nationally recognized races against the professional racers and teams. 



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