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7 unforgettable moments in Irish cycling history

Cycling has produced some of Irish sport’s most high-profile days.

WITH NICO ROCHE, Dan Martin, Sam Bennett and Philp Deignan competing and contending in some of the world’s top races, the future of Irish professional cycling is bright.

Cycling is a sport at which Irish people traditionally excel. Today we’re paying tribute to some of Irish cycling’s unforgettable moments over the years.

Here, in no particular order, are seven of them:

Shay Elliott dons the maillot jaune

Source: Wikipedia Creative Commons

By the time Elliott started the 1963 Tour de France, he’d already won stages at both the Vuelta a Espana and Giro d’Italia but, when he took victory on a stage at the biggest tour of them all that year, he became the first Irishman to ever wear the famous yellow jersey.

Elliott held it for three days and it would be two decades before another Irish cyclist had the honour. Spending most of his career as a domestique, Elliott was well known for putting potential personal triumph behind team success.

Martyn Irvine has himself a day

Source: INPHO/Guy Swarbrick

In landing the silver medal in the individual pursuit at the 2013 UCI Track World Championships, Irvine became the first Irish male rider to medal at the event which was first held in 1893.

Just an hour later, Irvine went one better when he took gold in the scratch race to cap what could be considered the finest single day in Irish cycling history.

Sean Kelly lands the Vuelta

Source: ©INPHO

Kelly was the world’s number one ranked road cyclist for five years from 1984 to 1989 and while his consistency meant he landed no fewer than eight points classification wins across the Tour and Vuelta, the common perception at the time was that he could not win a Grand Tour.

However, in 1988 Kelly put paid to that notion when he kept in touch with race leaders Anselmo Fuerte and Laudelino Cubino in the mountains to overcome a 21 second deficit on the penultimate stage’s time-trial to claim the Jersey Oro.

Dan Martin sets the Catalunya among the pigeons

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The nephew of Stephen Roche and cousin of Nico, Martin has cycling in his veins and while he has stage wins at both the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana as well as victory at the Liege-Bastogne-Liege to his name, his finest moment came at the 2013 Volta a Catalunya.

The 29-year-old took victory on stage four before securing the leader’s jersey the following day. Four days later and he had secured victory in cycling’s fourth oldest stage race. He finished the year just outside the top-five in the UCI world rankings.

Stephen Roche wins the Triple Crown

Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

In 1987, Roche became just the second man to win cycling’s Triple Crown of the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Road World Cycling Championship in the one year.

Roche took three stages at the Giro (including the team time-trial) and three more at the Tour before going into the Worlds where it looked like he was riding to help Sean Kelly. However, he managed to get into the race-winning break and, with Kelly slowing, attacked to land cycling’s most elusive honour.

Nico rides his own path

Source: INPHO

The Roche surname left Nicolas with a lot of live up to and in 2007 he made his professional debut when he rode the Giro d’Italia, finishing 123rd of the 219 riders who started the race.

Throughout much of the 2013 season, Roche was acting as a domestique for Alberto Contador but was given team leadership at that year’s Vuelta and he took full advantage.

After winning stage two for his first Grand Tour stage victory, he claimed the race leader’s red jersey after the eighth stage to become just the third Irish rider to do so.

The 1998 Tour de France starts in Ireland

Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

For the first and only time in its 102 editions, the world’s most famous stage race began in Ireland. In what proved to be a controversial installment of ‘Le Tour’, the prologue was won by Britain’s Chris Boardman while stage one saw the riders travel from Dublin through the Wicklow Gap and back to Dublin.

After stage two asked the riders to travel from Enniscorthy to Cork, the race moved to France where it was eventually won by Italian Marco Pantani.

This summer there is even more top-class cycling to see in Ireland when the 2016 An Post Rás gets under way from Dublin Castle on 22 May. For more details of where you can catch some of the action during the eight-stage, 1,235km race — taking in stage finishes in Multyfarnham, Charleville, Dingle, Sneem, Clonakilty, Dungarvan, and Baltinglass before coming to a close in Skerries – head over to the 2016 An Post Rás website

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