The Pat McQuaid File

9 Jun , 2013  

Statement Regarding Cycling Ireland’s EGM of 15th June 2013:

Concerning the nomination of Mr. Pat McQuaid for election as President of the UCI for a third term, five Cycling Ireland members release their rationale for a No vote.

31 May 2013 – (Full Document: The Pat McQuaid File)

We are five cyclists embedded in the Irish cycling scene with a deep passion for the sport.  Our strong commitment to cycling has been expressed over decades through various means.  Our frustration with those at the top of the UCI led us to each other.  We first united to persuade the Board of Cycling Ireland (CI) to put the nomination of Pat McQuaid for a third term as UCI President to the members of CI at an EGM, which Cycling Ireland respectfully agreed to.  On the 15th of June, Cycling Ireland Club Delegates will have the opportunity to vote on whether the Irish cycling federation should endorse Pat McQuaid’s nomination for President in the upcoming UCI elections.

Having succeeded with our initial objective, we felt obliged to state arguments against Pat McQuaid’s nomination.  The document that follows outlines why we believe members should vote No at the Cycling Ireland EGM.

Pat McQuaid has been on the UCI Management Committee since 1998.  He was elected President of the world governing body in 2005.  Over the course of his two terms as President, we believe there have been huge issues with regards to Governance and Doping in cycling.  In addition, it is our opinion that the UCI has engaged in mission creep regarding the Globalisation of the sport.

We believe the conflict of interest between anti-doping and promotion of the sport has never been addressed.  Anti-doping measures appear to be introduced on the back of yet another crisis.  We find it regrettable that the UCI comes across as reactionary, not pro-active in the fight against doping.  We think that the UCI’s anti-doping efforts have been too narrowly focused on riders as opposed to managers, teams and doctors.  What’s more, it is our belief that the UCI is reluctant to pursue global stars who become the key asset in its globalisation strategy.  It is our view that this sends a bad message to young cyclists considering whether to dope or not.  The UCI’s actions have resulted in short term commercial gains, however, these gains appear quickly lost in the destructive aftermath of doping scandals.  We believe the UCI’s public feuding with Anti-Doping agencies such as WADA and USADA cast it in a terrible light.  The UCI appears to lack leadership.  Without strong leadership we feel there is little opportunity for the sport to progress.

These issues are not as long in the past as Pat McQuaid would have us believe.  In the last five years we have seen the UCI provide Contador with the reason for his positive test, provide exemptions on testing periods for Lance Armstrong, sue people who speak out for the sport and fight unsuccessfully to obtain jurisdiction of USADA’s investigation into the US Postal Team.  Added to this, is the failure in our view of the much trumpeted Biological Passport to spot any erroneous blood values on Armstrong’s return – despite the USADA report claiming that there was a one-in-a-million chance his values were natural.  In 2013, one can’t help but ask the obvious question, how many other riders have sailed through the UCI’s anti-doping net?

For all the apparent failures contained herein there appears to be no accountability for those at the top of the UCI.  Any UCI reviews have been heavily criticised publicly for narrow terms of reference and for lack of independence.  The UCI’s promised review into issues raised by the USADA Reasoned Decision report has still not happened although seven months have now lapsed.  We believe that extending Pat McQuaids tenure as President will only lead to a continuance of policies of the past.  We expect this to result in more of the same – an unaccountable President who seems unable to provide the sport with the credibility we believe it sorely lacks.

We would love to have an Irishman as President of the UCI that makes us proud.  Unfortunately, Pat McQuaid does not, although he has had every opportunity over the last eight years as President to impress us.  Pat McQuaid’s clumsy communication and his confrontational style seem to bring the sport and the UCI into disrepute repeatedly.  We believe Pat McQuaid’s own actions have increased the public’s cynicism of cycling.  We feel it is McQuaid’s own fault that he is seen to be part of the problem, not part of the solution.  In our opinion Pat McQuaid’s Presidency has long ago become untenable.

Cycling Ireland’s EGM provides Irish cyclists with the opportunity to state any dissatisfaction they may have with Pat McQuaid’s political style, a style that is outdated in our view.  It is time for Pat McQuaid to be held accountable for his record as President of the UCI.  We believe his record is poor and that voting No in the Cycling Ireland EGM is the only way to move the sport of cycling forward and to break with the past.

We appreciate your consideration of our arguments that follow.

Yours in Cycling.

Anthony Moran
UCI Code: IRL 19651019    Email: anto.moran@gmail.com

Dr. Conor McGrane
UCI Code: IRL19701214    Email: conormcgrane@eircom.net

Paul Atkinson
UCI Code: GBR19601020    Email: oneunited@btinternet.com

Mark Gill
UCI Code: IRL19770711    Email: mark@thebionicdude.com

Dr. Cillian Kelly
UCI Code: IRL19841025    Email: mail@irishpeloton.com

Full Document: The Pat McQuaid File


1976 – The year a stage of the Rás finished in…Carlow

24 May , 2013  

This article is the fifth in a series which will be published daily throughout the 2013 edition of the Rás. I’ve taken the finish town of each day’s stage and looked back through the history books to a time when the Rás previously raced into the same town. Other stage towns in the series are:

Longford – 1962
Nenagh – 1958
Listowel – 1993
Healy Pass – 1984

Today it’s Carlow in 1976…


The Stage

1976 Rás Tailteann – 18th June – Stage 7 – Mitchelstown, Cahir, Clonmel, Callan, Kilkenny, Paulstown, Leighlinbridge, Carlow (135km)

What was going on in Irish cycling?


(Photo: www.rastailteann.com)

Sean Kelly, Pat McQuaid and his brother Kieron were all handed seven month bans by the Irish cycling federation. The trio, along with two Scotsmen, travelled incognito to South Africa to take part in the Rapport Tour. At the time, due to Apartheid, there were various sporting bans being placed on South Africa. Taking part in a cycling race in South Africa was prohibited. But the five riders assumed fake names and took part anyway, seeing the race as an ideal way to get in some extra racing miles over the winter.

Their presence in South Africa was discovered in the most bizarre of circumstances. A reporter for the Daily Mail was in South Africa covering the honeymoon of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. This reporter ended up with a photo of the five riders alongside Taylor and Burton. The photo was published, the riders were recognised and the game was up. Kelly and the McQuaids initially received seven month bans from the Irish Cycling Federation, throwing their participation in the following years Olympics in jeopardy.

This ban was eventually reduced to six months, but later the riders would all receive lifetime bans from the Olympics. But, despite carrying a lifetime ban from the Olympic games, Pat McQuaid, as well as being the current president of cycling’s governing body, is also a member of the International Olympic Committee.

Kelly and McQuaid were handed life bans from the Olympic Games

In a further controversial incident involving Irish cycling politics, the omission of Tony Lally from the 1976 Olympic squad led to the resignation in protest of his brother Sean as a member of the executive committee of the Irish Cycling Federation. Tony’s fianceé Elizabeth Corcoran also resigned as international secretary of the federation.

What was going on with the rest of cycling?

In a world of cycling no longer dominated by the aging and soon to be retired Eddy Merckx, Lucien van Impe wins the Tour de France. Raymond Poulidor had one final crack at the race that had always eluded him but only finished third, albeit at the amazing age of 40.

The power of Eddy Merckx was on the wane in 1976

Eddy Merckx had his last hurrah at the Milan San Remo, his 19th and final monument classic victory. It sparked off a year in which all five monument classics were won by Belgians and five different Belgians at that. This is the last occasion where one country won all five monument classics in a year.

The World road race title was also won by a Belgian, a different one again, this time it was the turn of Freddy Maertens who took his first of two career rainbow jerseys by pipping Francesco Moser in a sprint in Ostuni in Italy.

And what about other news?

Paddy Hillery was inaugurated as the sixth President of Ireland, U2 were formed at Mount Temple school in Dublin, Bill Gates founded Microsoft and Irish medal hope Eamon Coghlan finished in fourth place in the 1500m at the Montreal Olympics.

So who won the stage into Carlow in 1976?

Although this year’s stage and the 1976 stage into Carlow both began in Mitchelstown, while the 2013 version takes in the likes of Cashel and Urlingford, on Stage 7 in 1976 the riders took the more southerly route through Clonmel and Kilkenny.

Noel Clarke after winning Stage 7 into Carlow (Photo: www.rastailteann.com)

Noel Clarke of the Meath-Collins team broke clear to take the sprint prime in Cahir, taking with him a diverse crew hailing from Holland, France, Algeria and Tipperary.

The five riders managed to stay clear of the bunch and Clarke won the sprint to win his eighth stage of the Rás in six years. The main bunch came in 31 seconds later, containing race leader Bobby Power who had held the race lead for three days running and looked likely to hold on to the lead until the race reached Dublin two days later.


And most importantly, who won the Rás?

It wasn’t to be for Bobby Power as misfortune struck on the penultimate stage. On the descent from the Sally Gap down into Roundwood in Co. Wicklow, Power punctured and was delayed waiting for a support vehicle. Meanwhile, the Dutch rider Fons Steuten broke clear along with the Nulty brothers Colm and Mick. Steuten had already been in the yellow jersey earlier in the race and was just 11 seconds down on Power in second place overall. But by the stage end in Bray, the leading group including Steuten had put minutes into Power and the Rás was won by the Dutchman.

1976 Rás winner Fons Steuten (Photo: www.rastailteann.com)

Steuten had ridden the Vuelta a Espana in 1962 and took part in both the Vuelta and the Tour de France in 1964, however he didn’t finish any of them. Before the Rás in 1976 he had become the Over-35 World Champion. Although there had been an invasion of the Rás by Eastern European countries in recent years. Steuten was the first winner of the Rás from one of continental Europe’s ‘traditional’ cycling nations.

Power, for his part, would go on to win a total of eight stages of the Rás, his first in 1976, his last in 1992 – a time span of stage wins only bettered by Philip Cassidy (whose first and last were in 1983 and 2002). Power also wore the yellow jersey for a total of six days over three separate Rásanna, but he would never come as close to victory as he did in 1976.

Also of note in 1976 was the fate of veteran Paddy Flanagan. The reigning champion and three time winner of the Rás was the favourite once more. But the fight for the general classification that year was blown wide open when, five miles after the stage start in Lisdoonvarna, Flanagan crashed while wearing the yellow jersey and broke a bone in his elbow. He managed to finish the stage but was forced to abandon the Rás that evening.


1984 – The year a stage of the Rás went over the Healy Pass

22 May , 2013  

This article is the fourth in a series which will be published daily throughout the 2013 edition of the Rás. I’ve taken the finish town of each day’s stage and looked back through the history books to a time when the Rás previously raced into the same town. Other stage towns in the series are:

Longford – 1962
Nenagh – 1958
Listowel – 1993
Carlow – 1976


Today it’s the Healy Pass in 1984…


The Stage

1984 Rás Tailteann – 27th June- Stage 5b – Healy Pass – Individual Mountain Time Trial (6.5 km)

What was going on in Irish cycling?

Although 22-year old Paul Kimmage had been racing in France with the ACBB team, he returned home to win the national road race title. Kimmage had previously been successful in 1981 and he regained the title in a 99-mile race which consisted of nine laps around Carrick-On-Suir.1984

With three laps to go, Kimmage forged the decisive move along with Eddie Madden. Giving chase behind was Anthony O’Gorman. With Martin Earley at the head of a group giving chase further back the heat was on. But Kimmage proved too strong as he out-sprinted Madden and Tony Murphy managed to catch and pass O’Gorman to take the final place on the podium.

Tommy Campbell of Bray Wheelers became the new president of the Irish Cycling Federation. Having served 10 years as secretary he won election to the role of president, replacing Jim Collins. The role of coaching secretary was taken up by Paddy Doran.

What was going on with the rest of cycling?

Laurent Fignon had just been bullied out of victory in the Giro d’Italia by Francesco Moser. There were cries of conspiracy as firstly, many mountain climbs were cancelled in the final week of the race due to bad weather which never arrived and secondly, Fignon complained that the helicopter following riders during the time trial had positioned itself to aid Moser but to hinder himself thereby handing Moser the overall victory.
Fignon would console himself with absolute domination of that year’s Tour de France, his second successive victory in the race.

The Frenchamn Eric Caritoux won the Vuelta a Espana with what remains the closest winning margin in any Grand Tour, six seconds.

Sean Kelly in Paris-Roubaix

Meanwhile Sean Kelly was ascending to the throne of the world’s number one cyclist. He won Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege and finished second in the Tour of Flanders and Milan San Remo. He also won Paris-Nice, the Tour of the Basque Country and the Criterium International and he finished fifth at the Tour de France.

And what about other news?

Luke Kelly of the Dubliners died aged 43, the IRA killed five people in a bomb attack at the Grand Hotel, Brighton, during the Conservative Party conference, Carl Lewis won an unprecedented Gold medal in the 100m, 200m, 100m relay and long jump at the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and U.S. President Ronald Reagan visited the village of Ballyporeen in County Tipperary.

So who won the stage up over the Healy Pass?

Stage 5b in 1984 was an afternoon individual time trial which consisted of 6.5km of climbing from the bottom fo the Healy Pass to the top. A Scottish rider called David Gibson set the fastest time of 15’28” early on and remained in the lead for most of the day. Jason Ford of Wales took the lead with a time of 15’07” before Stephen Delaney became the first and only rider to break the 15 minute barrier with a time of 14’45”.

The view from the top of the Healy Pass

Delaney ended the stage well positioned in fourth place overall but it was Bobby Power of the Tipperary Super Stanley team who took the yellow jersey as leader of the Rás. He said after the hard day’s slog in the Cork and Kerry mountains:

“How is that for a non-climber?”

And most importantly, who won the Rás?

Stephen Delaney laid the foundations  for overall victory in that magnificent mountain time trial performance but it was on Stage 6 the following day from Castletownbere to Mallow that Delaney really imposed himself on the race.

He formed part of a 14 man move which, in true Rás fashion, broke clear at the start of the day and were never seen again. The man in yellow, Bobby Power, missed the break and trailed home with the main bunch almost nine minutes down on Delaney who took over the race lead and held it all the way to the finish.

Stephen Delaney – winner of the 1984 Rás (Photo: www.rastailteann.com)

The 21-year old Dubliner beat John Shortt to overall victory by almost three minutes with Raphael Kimmage in third place.

The 1984 edition of the Rás was notable for its time trials. There was the mountain time trial over the Healy Pass but there was also a rare team time trial which took place over 30km from Enniscorthy to Gorey. The rules for the team event were unusual in that the actual finishing times of each team didn’t matter, the members of the winning team were each awarded a 15 second time bonus, the second place team got 10 seconds, and the third place team got five. All other riders simply had to complete the course.

There was also a 1km prologue time trial to get the Rás started in the Eamonn Ceannt stadium in Crumlin. It was won by Dermot Gilleran in a time of 1 minute 16.63 seconds. But what the crowd were mostly there to see was the guest appearance of the world’s number one cyclist Sean Kelly fresh from success in Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Kelly never rode the Rás as he was a member of the Irish Cycling Federation, members of which were not allowed to take part in the National Cycling Association organised event. This changed shortly after Kelly left for the continent to become a professional but domestic squabbles robbed him of the chance of ever becoming a ‘Man of the Rás’.

But in 1984, Kelly was an honorary man of the Rás as he took on the 1km time trial during a ‘half time’ break of the actual Rás competitors. He recorded the best time on the day, beating Gilleran’s  time by just over a second.

The 1984 Rás was also notable for being the final participation (and 23rd in total) of four-time winner Sé O’Hanlon, at the grand old age of 42.

Sean Kelly’s guest appearance at the 1984 Rás in Eamonn Ceannt Stadium


1993 – The year a stage of the Rás finished in…Listowel

21 May , 2013  

This article is the third in a series which will be published daily throughout the 2013 edition of the Rás. I’ve taken the finish town of each day’s stage and looked back through the history books to a time when the Rás previously raced into the same town. Other stage towns in the series are:

Longford – 1962
Nenagh – 1958

Healy Pass – 1984
Carlow – 1976

Today it’s Listowel in 1993…


The Stage

1993 Rás Tailteann – 12th May- Stage 5 – Nenagh, Dolla, Kilcommon, Rear Cross, Newport, Limerick, Mungret, Foynes, Tarbert, Listowel. (140km)

What was going on in Irish cycling?

The Nissan International Classic had been organised every year since 1985, but what was effectively the Tour of Ireland did not go ahead in 1993. The race, organised by Alan Rushton and current UCI President Pat McQuaid, could not find a replacement sponsor after Nissan had pulled out and the race was cancelled.

(Photo: www.rastailteann.com)

(Photo: www.rastailteann.com)

McQuaid said in January of 1993 while the search for a sponsor was still on:

“It’s not looking very good. All is not lost yet but time is running out. I’ll give it another few weeks but if no agreement is reached with a new sponsor by March or so we will just have to leave it aside for this year.”

No agreement was reached and the Tour of Ireland was left lying dormant until it returned to the cycling calendar in 2007. But trouble sourcing finance once again affected the race and it hasn’t taken place since 2009.

The national road race championship was won by Robert Power. He took the title over three laps of a 60km circuit around Castleisland in Co. Kerry.

What was going on with the rest of cycling?

Stephen Roche was about to take part in his last Grand Tours as he had announced he would retire at the end of the year. He finished the Giro d’Italia in ninth place and ended up in 13th place at the Tour de France. Both races were won overall by Miguel Indurain.

Roche in his final Grand Tour, the 1993 Tour de France

Tony Rominger won all three jerseys (G.C., points and mountains) at the Vuelta a Espana, becoming only the second rider to achieve this feat at a Grand Tour after Eddy Merckx at the 1969 Tour de France.

At the ripe age of 38, Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle won Paris-Roubaix in a two-up sprint with the Italian Franco Ballerini. The Frenchman won the Hell of the North by a centimetre in the Roubaix velodrome.

And what about other news?

During the Rás, Niamh Kavanagh won the Eurovision song contest for Ireland in Millstreet, Co. Cork with a song called In Your Eyes.

Before the Rás, Albert Reynolds was elected Taoiseach as a coalition was formed between Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party, Bill Clinton became U.S. President, the World Trade Center was bombed and Jamie Bulger was abducted and murdered by two 10-year old boys.

After the Rás, the European Union was formally established, Sydney, Australia was chosen to host the 2000 Summer Olympics and The Snapper was broadcast on Irish television for the first time.

So who won the stage into Listowel?

The stage was won by the American Andy Lawson who was riding for a U.S. national team which included Dan Martin’s current team manager at Garmin-Sharp, Jonathan Vaughters. Lawson was only the second American ever to win a stage of the Rás after Greg Oravetz took two stages in 1987.

The fifth Stage of the Rás in 1993 was of the typical anarchic style for which the race has become famous. A king of the mountains prime at Bollingbrooke after just 15km of the 140km stage (the same mountains prime is in place on the 2013 route too) provided the launch pad for the incessant attacking that filled the rest of the day. Various breaks were instigated by Paul McQuaid, Paddy Callaly and Cormac McCann. But with seven kilometres left to go to Listowel, Lawson made his own move and forged clear of six other breakaway companions to cross the River Feale and reach the line with a handful of seconds to spare.

And most importantly, who won the Rás?

The stage into Listowel saw 19 year old Eamon Byrne take over the leader’s yellow jersey with a 28 second lead over Ian Chivers. This same lead remained unchanged until after Stage seven as Byrne’s confidence grew and grew. He had attacked from the mian bunch himself in order to bridge up to a breakaway:

Eamon Byrne – Winner of the 1993 Rás Tailteann (Photo: www.rastailteann.com)

“It was better to be up the road than left sitting around. With the roads so narrow anything could happen in the wet and I wanted to be on my own setting my own pace.”

When asked was he worried about 1990 Rás winner Chivers and British criterium champion Neil Hoban who sat in second and third places overall, Byrne said:

“They look good but they’re not great. I’m not very worried about them as I am going really well.”

Byrne sealed the overall victory the following day in Blessington by finishing fifth on the stage and maintaining his lead over Hoban as Chivers faltered on the day and slipped to sixth overall. Byrne, from Templeogue in Dublin, appeared to have a bright future ahead of him but seemed realistic when asked about his plans after winning the Rás:

“[Before turning professional], I want to finish my training [in Irish Rail] first. It is no use going professional unless you are good enough, there is no point in entertaining false hopes.”

Regardless of what Byrne’s hopes were in 1993, his future in the sport was eventually cut short due to problems with asthma.


1958 – The year a stage of the Rás finished in…Nenagh

20 May , 2013  

This article is the second in a series which will be published daily throughout the 2013 edition of the Rás. I’ve taken the finish town of each day’s stage and looked back through the history books to a time when the Rás previously raced into the same town. Other stage towns in the series are:

Longford – 1962
Listowel – 1993
Healy Pass – 1984
Carlow – 1976

Today it’s Nenagh in 1958…


The Stage

1958 Rás Tailteann – 7th August – Stage 5 – Tralee, Castleisland, Abbeyfeale, Newcastle West, Drumcolliher, Rathluirc, Croom, Limerick, Nenagh (161km)

What was going on in Irish cycling?

Gene Mangan won the fourth national championships of his career by taking the 25 mile time trial title which has held around Balbriggan in a time of 60 minutes and five seconds.

Cathal O’Reilly from the Tailteann racing club won the NCA 50 mile national road race championships in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. He was part of a 13-man move which broke clear with 10 miles to go. Running out of road and with the bunch reeling them in, two riders of the original 13 just managed to hang on to a slim lead as O’Reilly beat Tom Ryan to take the victory. Mangan was credited with joint third.

(Photo: www.rastailteann.com)

(Photo: www.rastailteann.com)

It was announced that the recently opened athletics track in Santry would be expanded to include a banked cycling track outside the running track and  a stand would be erected which would cater for 9,000 spectators, with a view to increasing capacity further to 20,000 in the years to come.

What was going on with the rest of cycling?

The recent Tour de France was won by Charly Gaul, the first rider from Luxembourg to win cycling’s biggest race for 30 years. With just a 74km time trial and the final sprint stage into Paris remaining. Gaul trailed the Italian Vito Favero by 1’07”. But a masterful display against the clock saw Gaul put over four minutes into Favero and he won the Tour by 3’10”. Brian Robinson became the first British rider to win a stage of the Tour de France as Shay Elliott finished in 48th place overall.

Paris-Roubaix was won by the Belgian rider Leon van Daele, but it was also the closest Seamus Elliott had come to winning one of cycling’s classics. With 3km to go Elliott attacked a group of 24 riders along with another Belgian, Roger Verplaetse. As they approached the veldrome in Roubaix, they had a small gap on the rest of the group but it wasn’t to be. As the bell sounded, they were swallowed up and Elliott had to settle for 20th place.

And what about other news?

During the Rás in early August, another Elliott, an Australian called Herb, broke the world record for running a mile at the Santry athletics track in Dublin.

Gene Mangan, winner of four stages in a row in 1958 (Photo: www.rastailteann.com)

Earlier that year a Pele inspired Brazil won their first ever World Cup. The Munich Air Disaster took the lives of seven Manchester United footballers and 14 others and the Carlisle monument in the Phoneix Park was blown up.

After the Rás, Brendan Behan’s book Borstal Boy was published in London and was promptly banned in Ireland. The first episode of Blue Peter was broadcast on the BBC and a new organisation called NASA is formed in the United States.

So who won the stage into Nenagh in 1958?

The stage was won by Gene Mangan, the 1955 Rás winner, riding for the Co. Kerry team. Having been subjected to a frantic four stages over the previous few days racing, the main bunch seemingly decided to take it easy on Stage Five into Nenagh. Mangan had already made an unsuccessful break for it as race passed Patrickswell but he was caught just before Limerick.

Not to be disheartened, Mangan broke again as they left Limerick and headed for Nenagh and he had with him two formidable opponents, both future winners of the Rás, Ben McKenna and Paddy Flanagan. But Mangan proved by far the strongest as he ripped himself clear during the sprint into Nenagh to win with a gap of five seconds.

And most importantly, who won the Rás?

Although the stage to Nenagh was the first of four stage wins in a row for Gene Mangan, it was another Kerryman who took the overall honours, the one they call the Iron Man, Mick Murphy.

1958 Rás winner Mick Murphy (right) with another Rás legend Sé O’ Hanlon (Photo: www.rastailteann.com)

Murphy won the second stage into Kilkenny and in doing so took over the race lead and he kept it all the way back to Dublin. He had only taken up cycling the year before and was dealing with a strapped up shoulder which he had injured on the first stage. Murphy, brought up on a tiny farm just outside Cahirciveen, is legendary for his meal of choice during his cycling days – cow’s blood and raw meat.

He said he would drink cow’s blood three or four times a week and he ate the raw meat, also for the blood, claiming that it helped prevent tuberculosis. He also trained with weights made of stone.

He won the 1958 Rás Tailteann by almost five minutes over second placed Ben McKenna.


1962 – The year a stage of the Rás finished in….Longford

19 May , 2013  

This article is the first in a series which will be published daily throughout the 2013 edition of the Rás. I’ve taken the finish town of each day’s stage and looked back through the history books to a time when the Rás previously raced into the same town. Other stage towns in the series are:

Nenagh – 1958
Listowel – 1993
Healy Pass – 1984
Carlow – 1976

Today it’s Longford in 1962…


The Stage

1962 Rás Tailteann – 5th August – Stage 1 – Dublin, Lucan, Leixlip, Maynooth, Kilcock, Enfield, Mullingar, Edgeworthstown, Longford (122km)


(Photo: http://www.anpostmedia.com)

What was going on in Irish cycling?

In February a landmark meeting took place where all three of Ireland’s cycling associations sat down together for the first time. The NICF (Northern Ireland Cycling Federation – officially sanctioned by the UCI), the CRE (Cumann Rothaiochta na hEireann – representing the Republic of Ireland and also officially sanctioned by the UCI) and the NCA (National Cycling Association – representing the entire island of Ireland and not sanctioned by the UCI).

Agreements were reached in principle that riders from each association would be allowed to compete in each others races, that the national team for the World Championships that year would be chosen from all three associations and that an annual congress would be held amongst all three thereafter.

However relations began to sour once more shortly after and the Rás remained an NCA only affair. It would be years later until the mess that cycling administration in Ireland had become was cleaned up.

Meanwhile, Shay Elliott was busy breaking down barriers on the continent and his friend Peter Crinnion was looking to emulate him. Crinnion took part in the Tour de l’Avenir, finishing seventh overall and he also won a stage of the Route de France.

What was going on with the rest of cycling?

Shay Elliott and 1962 World Champion Jean Stablinski

As the Rás took place in August in 1962, that year’s Tour de France had recently taken place and was won by the Frenchman Jacques Anquetil. It was Anquetil’s third overall victory and he would go on to win a total of five in his career. Another Frenchman Raymond Poulidor was racing his first Tour de France and impressively, finished on the podium in third place behind Anquetil and the Belgian Jef Planckaert. It was the first of eight podium finishes for Poulidor in the Tour, a race he would famously never win.

The Belgian classics hard man Rik van Looy became the sixth rider ever to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the same year, and he remains the only rider to do it as reigning World Champion as he had taken the Rainbow Jersey in the autumn of 1961.

In the 1962 World Championships, Shay Elliott won the first ever road race medal for Ireland as he finished in second place behind Jean Stablinski in Salo in Italy. Many believe that Elliott was betrayed by Stablinski, Godfather of Elliott’s son, and that victory was stolen from the Irishman.

And what about other world news?
During the Rás itself in early August, Marilyn Monroe was found dead at her home in Los Angeles having overdosed on sleeping pills and Nelson Mandela was arrested in South Africa charged with inciting workers’ strikes and leaving the country without permission. He would spend the next 27 years in prison.

The Late Late Show was first aired in 1962

Earlier in the year Gay Byrne presented the first edition of the Late Late Show on RTE, Brazil retained the World Cup in Chile despite Pele getting injured in their second group match and Bob Dylan released his debut album.

Later in the year the Cuban Missile Crisis took place between the USA and Russia and The Beatles recorded their first ever single, Love Me Do, at Abbey Road studios in London.

So who won the stage into Longford in 1962?

The stage was won by Dermot McGrath, who had ridden the previous year’s Rás for Dublin but in 1962 was riding for the County Down team, the first rider from the team to win a stage of the Rás.

A breakaway of seven riders formed just after the main bunch reached Kilcock in County Kildare. Through a howling headwind, the seven riders (which included future race director Dermot Dignam) forged clear all the way to Longford as they contested the stage win amongst themselves. McGrath, an RTE technician, proved he didn’t have any of his wires crossed as he won the sprint finishing just ahead of team-mate Dermot Monaghan.

McGrath also pulled on the first yellow jersey of the race and with the time bonuses he gained for his stage win, he led the Rás by 30 seconds.

And most importantly, who won the Rás?

The 1962 Rás was the coming of age of one of the most legendary figures in Irish cycling, Sé O’Hanlon. The Dubliner, still only 20 in 1962, had already proven himself as one of Ireland’s top cyclists, he had won all kinds of races and had received the Caltex award as Ireland’s best cyclist in 1960 and 1961. In the Rás of ’61 he had won three stages on the trot but had to settle for third place as team orders took precedence which left O’Hanlon shepherding team-mate Tom Finn to overall victory.

Sé O’Hanlon wins the 1962 Rás Tailteann (Photo: http://www.anpostmedia.com)

But in 1962, the Rás belonged to O’Hanlon. He won four stages and the overall by beating team-mate Sonny Cullen into second place by almost twenty minutes. On Stage Eight, the last leg of the race ending in Phoneix Park in Dublin, O’Hanlon held a 17 minute lead over the rest of the field but that didn’t stop him breaking clear over the Wicklow Gap and winning the stage by almost two minutes. His finishing positions on each of the eight stages were 16th, 1st, 2nd, 4th, 1st, 1st, 6th and 1st – absolute domination.

O’Hanlon remains the most successful rider in the history of the Rás. He holds the record for most overall wins (4), most stage wins (24) and most yellow jerseys (37).