VCI @ Billy Stewart GP

Apollo CT hosted the annual Billy Stewart GP on its familiar circuit, just a short distance from Lurgan. Velo Club Iveagh were well represented, with riders in the A2/3 race (Neil, Mark, Pete and JD) in the A4 race (Richie, Gordy B and Colin) and in the Masters race (Gordy M).

Great efforts by all as usual, with Neil placing 5th in the main race, JD in 9th and scoring his first A3 points. And in the Masters Gordy M 9th in this, his first race And baptism of fire.

We asked several for comments

Neil Seffen A2/3 race.- With what seemed like a fairly even split of A2 & A3 riders, there was a 2 minute advantage given to the A3 group which contained VCI riders JD, Jonto & Pete. Normally this should allow for a catch on the 3rd or 4th lap; however after a battle call from Drew McKinley of Newry Wheelers for everyone to ride through & catch the A3’s ASAP & what seemed like the fastest & hardest lap of racing this season, the A2’s caught the A3 group after only 10miles of riding & then the racing began!

It was quickly apparent that no breakaway was going to be easily allowed to go up the road & that remained the case until half way through the last lap, when 2 riders sneaked of the front on the decent into Waringstown. The peloton responded too late & it was a case of sprinting for 2nd place. I was the best positioned VCI rider claiming 5th place, with JD sneaking into the top 10 in 9th place. Jonto & Pete finished in the bunch just behind. Definitely a hard day’s racing!


Colin Abernathy A4 race – The A4 race started off at a good pace as normal. At the start I moved up to the front quarter of the peloton beside Gordy and Richie. As we headed into Warringstown for the first time 2 riders made a break on the front. Eventually they got absorbed again by the end of the 2nd lap. The three of us seemed in good form and seemed to float around towards the front end. On the last lap I started to cramp and had to manage it till the end and Gordy suffered cramps too. Richie did well and finished with bunch. A great run race by Apollo and great field of VCI men represented. Great to see club members out supporting us too.


Gordon McAvoy Masters race- After promising myself to race an open masters event this year, last Sunday seen it happen and I wasn’t left disappointed.
Lying by a pool in Italy drinking beer and stuffing as much pasta into my face as I possibly could I decided the Billy Stewart masters event was for me. Fast forward 5 weeks and with very little training, but a lot of spirit (some spirits of a different kind may have gotten me into this!) I was lining up at the start for 3 laps of around 10 miles each.
I soon found myself thinking “well this isn’t so bad” with the first 3 miles moving at what I would describe as a social pace, then we turned left. Boom, an attack at the start of the rolling hills of Clare road, then it settled, then, Boom, another attack! Followed by attack after attack.
Getting a feel for how it was going to go, I started to see where the attacks may come, who was going to instigate them and more importantly, react.
After 2-1/2 laps and with a group of 10 or 11 off the front (remarkably including myself) the pace slowed a little into the final mile or so, it was then I realised my rookie mistake. I had unintentionally moved or been let move to the front of the group and was basically the lead out for everyone else!!
Up the last ramp and out of the saddle too early, my legs burned and with 200m to go the others started to pass, eight of them to be precise!!
I was happy enough to get a 9th place out of around 25 and was also glad the others taught me a lesson in positioning for the last sprint, one that will not be forgotten in a hurry. As my teachers used to say “could do better”.
So with a smile on my face, I look to the next masters race and thoroughly recommend giving it a go, you won’t be disappointed.

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