Bike Talk With… Simon Whelan

What was your introduction to cycling? (First Club, first races, first result)
Sutton Road Club was my first club and I joined them in 1989. My first open race was an Under 16 race in the Park, I got dropped and lapped. My first result was in the ESCA trials and I finished 5th over 2 stages (I thought I was a superstar, but I didn’t get to go to England for the ESCA finals)

Your first big win?
I will never forget it… the 3rd stage of the Gorey ’92, I was a first year senior.I got into a break of about 10 riders and led out the sprint up the hill in the main street, I died a death and with 100 metres to go a guy called Karl Dolan, who won overall passed me but I kicked again, passed him and threw my hands up in the air! However it was a very close thing and went to a photo finish… but I won and learnt never to put my hands up till I had crossed the line! (Sean Lally finished third that day riding for Leinster) The picture is still on my wall!

Ras 1999

Your best season?
8 wins
2nd in the Leinster champs
9th in the All Ireland Champs
3 top 10 results in the Ras

Career highlights?
Winning the Stephen Roche Classic beating all the best sprinters in the country in a gallop was very satisfying.

What result/performance are you most proud of?
Stage 8 of the 1999 Ras – 105 miles.
We went over 3 cat 1 climbs and a few other 2nd cat climbs and I was there with all the climbers at the end and finished 10th .
Not bad for a sprinter!

1999 All Ireland Champs – 9th
Going into the last lap I thought I could of won if it was a sprint – but I just went with the wrong moves but was happy with 9th

The Ras — how many and best performance?
Only 2 Ras’s.
I don’t go for the overall, but I have finished 3rd , 5th , 6th and 10th on stages

Any good memories of the Park
I have won 8 Park races over the years, so I have lots of good memories. My biggest memory of the Park was a bad one… Stage 1 of my first Ras, sprinting for 13th place on the stage and I was in a big crash… I still has the scar!

Winning in the Park

Memories of racing overseas?
Spent most of a season in the US
I learnt how to pedal through corners at 40 mph!
They love their Crits!

When things go wrong (Or the one that got away)?
Where do I start ?

Best rider (amateur) that you have ridden against?
Power is very impressive!

Best Irish sprinter you’ve competed against?
Michael Fitzgerald is fast but you got to respect the likes of Bannon and Bracken cos the will run you close (sometimes)!

Biggest influences in your career?
I have had a lot of support from Sean Lally over the years and I want to join him as a Ras stage winner! Terry Ferris give me a lot of support and keeps me motivated when things are not looking too great!

How long with Swords & why you joined (or why you stay)?
I joined in 1999 and I have stayed cos I enjoy the family atmosphere… From day one I was made feel welcome!

Favourite present day Pro’s?
I like Ullrich and I would like to see him get another Tour but I think Zabel is the main man!

Favourite Pro sprinter?
Super Mario Cippo of course

Best one day Pro race? (Flanders? Parix Roub , Milan San, W/champs)
Its got to be Paris – Roubaix in the rain

Present bike?
Fondriest Top Lite frame, with Dura Ace for the moment

Race day nutrition (Breakfast — mid race drinks — recovery etc)?
Breakfast – Poridge or Wheetabix with toast and apple or ruhbarb tart and decaf coffee or tea
Mid race – I usually end up eating the handlebars, but otherwise jelly babies
(low fat … high in sugar and calories)
Recovery – I eat everything in sight … I love pasta

What do you love most about cycling?
Winning bike races.

Interested in any other sports?
For my sins I am a Liverpool FC fanatic

Favourite Cycling Magazine?
Cycling Weekly

Best Cycling Book(s) you have read?
The Lance Armstrong book was a great read
The Willy Voet book was an eye-opener!

What advise would you give to 1st year racer?
Listen to the likes of Sean Lally and Jim Ludden as they have done it all before as opposed to listening to guys that don’t know anything about racing. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes even if it means getting dropped in races!

How can they then turn good performances into good results?
There is a saying in cycling… ‘You will win more with a good head and bad legs than you will with good legs and a bad head’
Think about that!

Favourite cycling holiday destination?
Gran Canaria… But I am sure Malaga will do nicely!