Scott-Orwell Wheelers are very lucky and honoured to have new members joining the club in both the racing and leisure section. One of our new members is Simon Sheridan who took an excellent 2nd place at the Stamullen GP. Simon reports back here on a day that also included 7th place from Graham Scanlon and 2nd, 3rd and 4th places in the women's races through Monica Marconi, Yvonne Doran and Rachel Glendon.

I Thought I Had Won

Having raced the previous day in the John Reilly Memorial I wasn’t sure I’d have the legs to go hard here but decided it was a good idea to go and race regardless. I’ve been cycling for about 5 years but I’m new to racing so I’m learning tactics and becoming more comfortable in a peloton with each outing.

I arrived at about 11.40 for a 12.20 start. Not a huge amount of time to spare but I got signed on and went for a 15 minute spin. I was relying on the pace not being too high for the first lap. The A4 race was 3 laps of the 19km circuit with about 180 metres climbing in each. At the start there were 3 hills in quick succession just outside Stamullen and then a descent into the Naul. The course then turned east into the wind over some lumpy bits before turning north with a descent and then west for the finish with a tailwind. The latter part of the course was always going to be fast. Climbing is certainly not my strong point, so for me it was all about surviving those 3 early hills to be in contention at the end.

The first lap kicked off in typically frantic fashion, everyone jostling for position to begin the climbs – myself included. The lack of warm up was telling and I was blowing hard. I managed to hang on to the lead pack as the peloton split in two. For the rest of the first lap I went into recovery mode, hiding as much as I could but trying to stay near enough the front in case of more fractures.

With the second lap, and the second time up the hills, the group got split again and by the summit I found myself about 25 seconds out the back with one other CKR rider. I gunned it down the hill, gave it everything trying to catch back on. I got close but luckily the CKR rider came around me as I was running out of gas and finished off the job. Again into recovery mode. By this stage the group was down to about 15 riders so I knew if I could hang on through the opening hills in the final lap there was a chance of being in the points.

The peloton during the stage with Scott-Orwell Wheeler Eoin Ahern up front (photograph with thanks to Sean Rowe)

By the time we came onto the final lap, I was feeling reasonably good, gaining confidence as the group whittled down in size. I gave a big effort to stay with the pack up the three hills for the last time. However there was a group of two or three that really took off and made a useful lead here. As a group we made a good effort and succeeded to reel them in as we battled the headwind.

From there it was a case of getting into good position to contest the sprint. First job was to get near the front for the last left hander, as the pace was sure to be high on the final 2 km (or so) stretch with the tail wind. Once through the junction I was conscious not to get boxed in. Or should I say I was aware I was getting boxed in! So with less than a kilometre to go I managed to get out through a gap and started motoring towards the front. Having not been in this situation before I wasn’t quite sure what to do, but I reached the front of the bunch just as we were reaching the village and from there just decided to bury it and see if I could hold out to the line. And I was surprised and delighted that it worked. I think the key was my lucky timing in reaching the front of the bunch. From there I was able to carry the momentum to the finish.

So there I was at the finish being congratulated on the win, we were all blissfully unaware that there was a UCD rider, Cian O’Reilly, after finishing in front of us! I only realised when I was getting a cup of tea afterwards and said hello to Cian asking how he got on. “I won” he says, before explaining to me how he managed to stay away from that break up the hills on the last lap. The lead car let him slip by without noticing, probably thinking he was dropped from some other group. So when the pack reeled in the two riders from the break we thought we were all back together.

So chapeau to Cian O’Reilly who took the honours well in front of the bunch, but without any fanfare crossing the line. He put in a huge effort to hold that lead for the last lap, and thankfully he’s now qualified for the A3’s!

Simon takes second place (photograph with thanks to Sean Rowe)

Many thanks to all the marshals and everyone involved at Stamullen Road Club for hosting a very enjoyable two days of racing.