Dan Martin – Is he the first Irish rider to….?

On the first day for two years that an Irish rider wins a stage of a Grand Tour…I decided to skip the cycling and go to the pub to watch the football. Murphy’s law!

In fairness, there are worse games I could have chosen to watch instead of sitting in and watching the cycling. Arsenal’s humiliation was fantastic enough but then I heard the news that Dan Martin had won the mountain stage of the Vuelta and taken the king of the mountains jersey. And as a born and bred Dub, if I was inclined to get excited about the Gaelic Football, then it was just about the most perfect day of sport imaginable.

In the wake of Martin’s victory, I’ve been getting a few questions via email, facebook and twitter; questions mostly starting with ‘Is Dan Martin the first Irish rider to….’.

Dan Martin - The fourth Irish rider to win a stage of the Vuelta a Espana. (via cyclingnews.com)

So the following is an attempt to wrap up all the stats queries after yesterday’s stage:

Is Dan Martin the first Irish rider to win a stage of the Vuelta?
No. Three other Irishmen have won a stage in the Vuelta a Espana.

Seamus Elliott, the first Irish rider to achieve success on the continent, won two stages of the Vuelta in his career, in 1962 and 1963. He is also the only Irish rider to have won a stage in each of the three Grand Tours.

Sean Kelly wrote his name all over the history of the Vuelta throughout the Eighties. He won 16 stages in total, the fifth most of all time. He also won the points classification four times, a record he shares with Laurent Jalabert. And of course, he won the race overall in 1988.

The two cousins Roche and Martin go on the attack and lead the Vuelta - fantastic! (via cyclingnews.com)

Philip Deignan won a stage in the 2009 edition of the race, Ireland’s last victory in a Grand Tour before Dan Martin. He beat Roman Kreuziger in a two-man sprint to take the win and the time he gained that day also contributed to his ninth place finish overall.

Is Dan Martin the first Irish rider to win a mountain stage of a Grand Tour?
No. Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and Martin Earley have all won a mountain stage of Grand Tours in the past.

Stephen Roche won a mountain stage of the 1985 Tour de France. Kelly won a mountain stage in both the 1986 and 1988 Vueltas and Earley won a mountain stage of the 1986 Giro d’Italia.

I’m not 100% sure what category of stage each of Seamus Elliott’s Grand Tour victories were, so if anybody knows feel free to leave comments.

Is Dan Martin the first Irish rider to win a Grand Tour stage while wearing a leader’s jersey?

Martin was actually ranked fourth in the combination classification when he won the Vuelta stage behind Sylvain Chavanel, Joaquin Rodriguez and Daniel Moreno. But Rodriguez was leading the points classification, Moreno was in the king of the mountains jersey and Chavanel chose to wear his French national champions jersey instead of shouldering the combination jersey. As such, Martin got to wear the white jersey of leader of the combination classification for the day.

But he is not the first Irish rider to win a Grand Tour stage while wearing a leader’s jersey.

Sean Kelly won a whopping 14 stages of the Vuelta over the years while wearing the points leader’s jersey. Stephen Roche also won the final stage time trial in the 1987 Giro d’Italia while wearing the Maglia Rosa.

Is Dan Martin the first Irish rider to wear two different leader’s jerseys in a Grand Tour?

Stephen Roche wore the green and yellow jerseys in the 1987 Tour de France. Sean Kelly actually wore three jerseys at various stages in the 1983 Tour de France, green, yellow and the combined jersey. And Kelly won both the G.C. and the points classifications in the 1988 Vuelta, wearing both jerseys along the way.

Is Dan Martin the first Irish rider to wear the king of the mountains jersey in a Grand Tour?

At least, I think so. Kelly and Roche have certainly never worn the king of the mountains jersey in either the Giro or the Tour, and Roche has certainly never worn it in the Vuelta.

Kelly in the Vuelta is the only possibility. But I’m finding definitive data on the Vuelta mountains competition in the eighties hard to come by.

Can anybody help? Did Sean Kelly wear the Vuelta’s king of the mountains jersey in 1987 or 1988?

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  1. Michael - August 29, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

    Chavanel wasn’t leading any competition, he just chose to wear the French Champions Jersey over a hand me down Combination jersey.

  2. Irish Peloton - August 29, 2011 @ 6:06 pm

    Ah yes. Heard David Harmon mention that on the highlights last night. I’ll do a quick edit.

    Cheers Michael.

  3. Liam. - April 25, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

    I think Sean Kelly might have worn the Climber’s Jersey in the Tour of Switzerland in 1990 or 1991. He didn’t win that classification outright though. I purchased the mountains jersey that was awarded to Sean from him in December 1991 when he was having a clear-out of his shed and it is still hanging in my wardrobe.


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