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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The Irish exodus to Australia continues

When the Great Famine gripped Ireland in the early part of the 19th century the number of emigrants who left Irish shores numbered in their millions. Most of those who fled ended up in America, but 50,000 or so ended up even further afield, in Australia.

So began a 200 year old connection between the two countries. A connection which has been strengthened recently, again for all the wrong reasons, by many more thousands of Irish fleeing their homes, this time in search of work. The big R has hit Ireland harder than most and the construction industry has ground to a halt. This has led to many tradesmen downing tools and applying for Australian visas in the past few years. ~ 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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The perfect cyclist – A jack of all trades

One of the most interesting things about cycling compared to most other sports are the different disciplines that any given rider can take part in – road racing, time-trialling, mountain biking, track racing and cyclo-cross.

Stephen Roche once said that “maybe it is a view of a dreamer but I have always believed that a complete bike racer should be able to ride on the flat, in the mountains, in the time trials and on the track.”

Not long after Roche finished third in the 1985 Tour de France at the age of 25, he rode the Paris six-day race on the track with the British rider Tony Doyle. Roche crashed and hurt his knee, an injury which would plague him for the rest of his career. ~ 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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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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