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. ~ Continue reading ~

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Green jersey points breakdown: Is the system actually geared towards Cavendish?

Stephen Roche wrote in an article yesterday that he thought it would be an interesting exercise to calculate who would be leading the green jersey competition if the intermediate sprints were ignored and the points were assigned on the stage finishes alone.

Well, Roche’s wish is my command. His comments were made in relation to Mark Cavendish, so does this year’s points classification suit the Manxman more than last year’s?

Currently the green jersey standings in this year’s Tour de France are as follows: ~ Continue reading ~

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Philip Lavery – Geared up and talented

Philip Lavery is a 20-year old Irish cyclist currently riding for the An Post-Sean Kelly team. For a number of years now he has been talked about as a future star of Irish cycling. Having seen success in domestic races such as the Tour of the North and the Tour of Ulster, he was given the opportunity to ride as a stagiaire for the An Post-Sean Kelly team towards the end of last season. He impressed sufficiently to be offered a contract for this year.

Lavery has been riding plenty of the Belgian semi-classics this year but could not take part in the An Post Rás due to illness. He has refocused and is now gearing up for the Irish national championships road race which take place next Sunday. I had a chance to talk to him earlier this week: ~ Continue reading ~

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A race named after a beer?

Of all the major races that make up the top tier of the professional cycling calendar there are relatively few which have not been won by either Stephen Roche or Sean Kelly back in the eighties. Roche was a thoroughbred stage racer while Kelly was an unstoppable all-rounder capable of victory on almost any terrain. Between them, they had all the bases covered.

Indeed, Roche had this to say in his book, The Agony and the Ecstacy:

When people compare what I have won to what Kelly has won my reaction is to ask them not to compare but to combine. Instead of asking what each has won, it is better to put our victories together and say, ‘Here are two Irishmen who between them have won almost every race in world cycling’. ~ Continue reading ~

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The Cobbled Curtain Raiser

For the eager cycling fan, the start of the season is marked these days by the Tour Down Under in January. Others consider the true season opener to be the Paris-Nice stage race in mid-March. For everyone else, the 2011 racing season truly gets under way this Saturday in Belgium, with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (formerly ‘Het Volk’).

Just as the Tour de France contenders require stage races to hone their racing acumen early in the year, as do the classics specialists require one day races to get into the mood. The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad provides just this. It is about 200km long, there are short sharp cobbled climbs and if the weather forecast is to be believed, there’ll be rain. ~ Continue reading ~

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Bono at the Vuelta a Espana

In what year did Bono stand atop the winner’s podium at what was a great day for Ireland at the Vuelta a Espana?

The answer is 1962. Bono, Paul Hewson, of U2 fame, was but a 2 year old drawing on the walls in his house in Glasnevin in 1962. But, the Bono who made it on to the winner’s podium of the Vuelta 48 years ago was the little known Italian rider Ernesto Bono who claimed the biggest victory of his career by winning Stage 12 of that year’s race into the city of Logrono. The reason Ireland had cause to celebrate was that Seamus Elliott had retained the Vuelta race leader’s jersey. Elliott would go on to wear the jersey for a total of nine days that year only losing the jersey three stages from the end to eventual winner Rudi Altig of Germany. ~ Continue reading ~

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