VC Glendale will be celebrating its 40th anniversary 2021 and plan to mark the occasion by expanding its reach to potential new members.

The club was formed in 1981 by Mark Graham who had a vision of a top-ranked racing club in West Belfast. Back then, Mark was way ahead of the game and knew all the ins and outs of bike racing happening on a faraway continent known as Europe. He was so far ahead of the game he picked the best-looking race jersey for his new club (the Belgium national jersey) and so the dream was born.

Mark recruited the best talent in Belfast to join his team and Glendale would never look back.

Sadly, the club founder passed away in 1986 in a traffic accident on his way to a Cyclo-Cross race in Rostrevor but the club was was by now on track and was set to flourish over the next two decades because of Mark's vision and passion.

Many riders have come through the ranks of VC Glendale in Belgium blue or the sponsor's kit (Planet X etc) of that year. These include top riders like Thomas Evans (Ras winner), Ciaran Power (professional with Linda McCartney), David O’Louglin (Ireland’s first UCI world track medallist), Martyn Irvine (world track champion) and Phillip Deignan (Sky professional and Vuelta stage winner) all backed up by a strong squad of riders including Brendan Graham, Brendan Doherty, Colm Watson, Barry Monaghan, Denis Easton and Frank Campbell at the helm.

The proposed Youth Academy jersey 

The proposed Youth Academy jersey 

In 2021, VC Glendale is planning on bringing the club back to its former glory with an array of coaching talent and experience of some aforementioned riders and a lot of new members and experience.

The club intends to build on the recent success of its 'Breaking The COVID Cycle' programme across Belfast by bringing cycling into the local community; working with local youth and community groups. Also on the club’s road map for the season ahead is the formation of a dedicated ladies cycling group to encourage underrepresented female members of the community to get out on their bikes.

The club will be running a host cycling safety awareness sessions, road and mountain bike taster sessions aimed at tackling the physical and mental health problems in the wake of COVID restrictions through cycling.

They are also preparing to launch a race academy team and are seeking expressions of interest from riders ranging from U14/U16, junior and U23.

The aim of this academy will be to develop young riders in all disciplines to help them become successful senior racers.

"What we are looking for from riders is commitment, enthusiasm, and a willingness to learn and constantly improve and the ability to work as part of a team," said a club spokesperson.

"This team will help develop young riders through a tricky period of racing years and lend them countless years' experience and coaching on a free basis the academy will help the youth in any way it can but won’t offer free bikes, equipment or kit.

"If this is something you feel that you’d be interested in being a part of, please send your expressions of interest and CV to Colm Watson:"