Sean Kelly’s bitter sweet yellow jersey

Sean Kelly won the green jersey four times and held the green jersey for a total of 67 stages, but in the battle for the overall classification at the Tour de France he only ever wore the yellow jersey once.

Kelly got his hands on the jersey after Stage 9 of the 1983 Tour which took the riders from Bordeaux to Pau. Before the stage, thanks to a strong opening prologue and a sixth place finish in the 58.5km time trial on Stage 6, Kelly found himself in second place overall, just 25 seconds behind the first ever Danish rider to wear the yellow jersey, Kim Andersen. ~ Continue reading ~

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Irish cyclists at the Olympics

In London tomorrow, the cycling road race takes place over 250km and provides each of the competitors the opportunity to secure the first medals on offer at the 2012 Olympic games. Representing Ireland are David McCann, Nicolas Roche and Daniel Martin. Although Ireland have never won a medal of any sort in this discipline, the green jerseys are not without their history in this prestigious event. With Roche and McCann both having competed in previous games, Martin is set to be the 30th cyclist to represent Ireland in the Olympic games men’s road race. ~ Continue reading ~

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2012 Tour de France Trivia

General Classification

  • This is the first Tour de France victory for Bradley Wiggins and for Great Britain. The previous best for both was fourth place in 2009 (Robert Millar also finished in fourth place in 1984).
  • Along with Roger Walkowiak, Wiggins is now one of only two Tour winners who have never won a road stage in any Tour de France (although of course, Wiggins still has a few years to rectify this).
It is also the first time since 1968 that the Tour winner has finished outside the top 10 in the mountains classification. Jan Janssen did so in the Tour directly after Tom Simpson died which was raced over a more cautious route with less demanding mountain stages.

  • Wiggins is the first Olympic track gold medalist to win the Tour de France. The closest any rider had come to achieving this previously was Guy Lapebie who won the 4km team pursuit in Berlin in 1936 and finished third in the Tour in 1948 behind Gino Bartali and Briek Schotte.
  • Having taken the yellow jersey on Stage Seven, Wiggins and Team Sky defended the race lead all the way to Paris for 13 stages. This is the most stages a Tour winner has held the yellow jersey directly before Paris since Bernard Hinault defended successfully for 15 stages in 1985.
  • Since trade teams were re-introduced to the Tour de France in 1969, the one-two finish by Wiggins and Chris Froome is the first time that two riders from the same team and same country have finished first and second in the Tour de France. It is the first time since Bjarne Riis and Jan Ullrich in 1996 for two riders from the same team and it is the first time since Laurent Fignon and Bernard Hinault in 1984 for two riders from the same country to finish first and second.

  • The last two times where two riders from the same team have finished first and second at the Tour (Riis-Ullrich 1996 and Hinualt-LeMond1985), the younger rider who finished in second place behind his team leader went on to win the Tour the following year. (This ‘two times’ ignores the team one-two by LeMond-Hinault in 86, where the following year Hinault retired and LeMond had been shot).
  • By finishing on the third step of the podium in Paris, Vincenzo Nibali has now finished on the podium of all three Grand Tours (2nd – Giro 2010, 1st – Vuelta 2010). He is the first Italian to achieve this feat since Felice Gimondi.
  • Starting with Andy Schleck’s inherited Tour de France in 2010, Wiggins’s victory makes it seven Grand Tours in a row where the winner has never before won a Grand Tour (Schleck, Nibali, Scarponi, Evans, Cobo, Hesjedal, Wiggins). This has only ever happened once before between the Vueltas of 1965 and 1967 (Wolfshohl, Adorni, Gimondi, Gabica, Aimar, Motta, Janssen).
  • Nicolas Roche’s 12th place finish overall goes one better than his father achieved in his final Tour de France in 1993 where he ended the race in 13th place. Roche junior also bettered his own personal best at the Tour which was 14th in 2010. His performance this year is now the highest G.C. place for an Irishman since Stephen Roche’s ninth place in 1992.

Stage Wins ~ Continue reading ~

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Britishness, Irishness, Patriotism and Cycling

With Team Sky set to deliver a one-two at the top of the general classification via Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome as well as nabbing four stages so far with four different riders, this is undoubtedly the best year ever for Great Britain at the Tour de France.

After today’s stage in the Pyrene├ęs, it seems clear that all of Wiggins’s potential rivals are either unwilling or unable to attack him. The only threat that could conceivably see Wiggins not reaching Paris with the yellow jersey seems to be from within his own team. ~ Continue reading ~

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Get Outta That Saddle Stephen!

The 1980’s was a magical time for Irish professional cycling. For a while we could lay claim to the top two cyclists in the world. Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche won everything (except the Tour of Flanders). At no stage in their careers did they ever end up as team-mates, but they liked and respected each other and often rode for each other in races.

Roche once said that people shouldn’t look at their respective careers as separate entities, weighing up which one of them won which races. Instead, said Roche, we should put their career achievements together and view them as one. ~ Continue reading ~

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Ireland’s best World Championship performances

The cycling road race world championships takes place in Copenhagen today where the winner is awarded the famous rainbow jersey. This year’s race will be 266km and will be over relatively sprinter-friendly terrain. Ireland will have three entrants in the men’s road race, Matt Brammeier, Daniel Martin and Nicolas Roche.

Irish riders have contributed to the long history of cycling’s most prestigious one day event. Here’s five of the most notable Irish performances:

5. Matt Brammeier (2010) – Last year the road race took place in Geelong, Australia. The route consisted of an 85km stretch before entering a 16km circuit which the riders would tackle 11 times. The world championships usually takes place on a circuit and it was unusual to have such a long point to point section before commencing the laps around the start/finish line. This unusual quirk in the route design almost lead to one of the biggest upsets in world championship history. ~ Continue reading ~

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