Seán Kelly (cyclist)
ridername = Seán Kelly
image_caption = Kelly with
Jean de Gribaldy, 1986
fullname = Seán James Kelly
dateofbirth = birth date and age|df=yes|1956|5|21
country = IRL
currentteam = Retired
discipline = Road
role = Rider
ridertype = Started as a sprinter
Became an all-rounder
proyears = 1977–1978
proteams = Flandria
majorwins = , 3 times
updated = 13 January 2008
Seán James Kelly (born 21 May 1956) is an Irish former professional
road bicycle racer. Kelly was one of the most successful road cyclists of the 1980s, and one of the finest Classics riders of all time. His victories include a Grand Tour win, nine “Monument” Classics victories and a record seven successive wins in the Paris-Nicestage race.
Kelly grew up in the
townlandof Curraghduff, County Waterfordon the Tipperary border near Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, Ireland. [ cite web|url=http://www.upthedeise.org/nucleus/articles.php?itemid=120|title=Sean Kelly - Waterford's Greatest Sports Star!|publisher=Up the Deise] From the start of his professional career in 1977 when he was discovered by the French directeur sportif Jean de Gribaldy, until his retirement in 1994, Kelly won nine 'Monument' Classics, and 193 professional races in total, a tally only bettered by Eddy Merckx. Kelly also won the Paris-Nicestage race seven years in a row, and won the inaugural UCI Road World Cupin 1989.
He has a Grand Tour victory to his credit in the 1988
Vuelta a España, and multiple wins in the Giro di Lombardia, Milan-Sanremo, Paris-Roubaixand Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Other victories include the Critérium International, Grand Prix des Nationsand many smaller tours, including the Tour de Suisse, Vuelta al País Vascoand Volta a Catalunya.
Notably missing from his list of victories is the
World Cycling Championship rainbow jersey, which he almost won in a close battle against Greg LeMondin 1989. When the FICP Road World Rankingswere first introduced in March 1984, Kelly was the first rider to be ranked world No.1, a position he held for over six years, which is the competition record. Kelly was known to be one of the hard men of professional cycling, achieving 33 victories in one season (1984).
While some sprinters prefer to remain sheltered in the
pelotonuntil the final few hundred metres of a race, Kelly was capable of instigating breaks and could climb well, proving this by winning the Vuelta a Españain 1988. His victories in Paris-Roubaix(1984, 1986) showed his ability to battle against poor weather and terrible road conditions, while in the Tour de Francehe could stay with the climbing specialists in the mountains. He finished fourth in the Tour in 1985 and won the " Maillot vert" (Green Jersey) in 1982, 1983, 1985, and 1989, becoming the first rider to win the Tour's points classification four times, a feat he repeated in the Vuelta a España. Kelly won 21 stages in Grand Tours, five in the Tour de France and 16 in the Vuelta a España.
Early professional career
Kelly had a strong amateur career in Ireland being the Junior Champion of Ireland in 1972 and 1973 as well as winning the Shay Elliot Memorial race in 1974 and 1975 and stage wins in the Tour of Ireland of 1975. [cite web| url=http://seankelly.com/modules.php?name=News&new_topic=4 |title=Sean Kelly career wins |publisher=seankelly.com |accessdate=2007-04-16] In order to prepare for the 1976
Montreal Olympic Games, he and fellow Irish team competitor Pat McQuaidwent to South Africa to compete a stage-race there even though there was a sporting boycott on in this country at that time. Kelly and McQuaid were caught and were then banned from competing in the Olympic Games. [cite web| url=http://www.cyclingnews.com/riders/2005/interviews/?id=pat_mcquaid05a |title=An interview with Pat McQuaid by Shane Stokes |publisher=Cyclingnews |accessdate=2007-04-16] As a result, Kelly spent the summer of 1976 as an amateur in France and went on to win the Amateur Giro di Lombardia. It was at this time that he was spotted by French directeur sportif Jean de Gribaldywho came to Ireland to offer him a contract to ride for the Belgian Flandria professional team. [cite web| url=http://www.jeandegribaldy.com/index.php?zone=pages/kelly |title=Sean Kelly et J. de Gribaldy |publisher=jeandegribaldy.com |accessdate=2007-06-07] Kelly would stay with de Gribaldy for the 1977 and 1978 seasons which included a stage win in his first Tour de France. Kelly changed team in 1979 and it was not until 1982 that he would be rejoined with Jean de Gribaldyin the Sem-France Loireteam. During this time Kelly had a reputation as a sprinter who could not win stage races, although he did perform well in stage races such as finishing fourth overall in the 1980 Vuelta a España.cite web|url=http://www.cyclebase.nl/?lang=nl&news=nl&pc=normal&page=races&db=m&id=1181|title=Vuelta a Espana|publisher=Cyclebase.nl|accessdate=2007-09-20] Having been reunited with de Gribaldy in 1982, Kelly won Paris-Niceand the Maillot vert(i.e., the green sprinter’s jersey) of the Tour de France. [cite web| url=http://www.jeandegribaldy.com/index.php?zone=pages/equ_82|title= 1982 Sem France Loire Campagno |publisher=jeandegribaldy.com |accessdate=2007-06-07] He finished third in the UCI Road World Championships. In a tribute to Kelly's achievements in the 1982 Tour de Franceand his bronze medal at the World Championships Kelly's home town, Carrick on Suir, named the town square "the Sean Kelly Square." [cite book|title=Kelly: A biography |first=David |last=Walsh |year=1991 |isbn=978-1856880244 |publisher=Springfield Books] The following year Kelly defended his Paris-Nicewin before building on his stage race achievements by winning the Criterium Internationaland the Tour de Suisseas well as winning the Maillot vert of the Tour de Francefor a second time in a row.
Height of professional career
In the autumn of 1983 that Kelly finally broke through with a win in one of cycling’s monuments to confirm the potential he had. After a tough battle over the Intelvi and Schignano passes, a leading group of 18 riders entered the streets of
Comoto battle for victory in the Giro di Lombardia. Against some of the greatest cyclists of the 1980s, including Francesco Moser, Adri Van Der Poel, Hennie Kuiperand reigning world champion Greg LeMond, Kelly won the sprint by the narrowest of margins, with less than half a wheel separating the first four.
Kelly dominated the sport the following spring earning the nickname ‘the new cannibal.’ He won
Paris-Nicefor the third successive time beating fellow Irishman Stephen Rocheas well as the then four time Tour de Francewinner Frenchman Bernard Hinault[cite web| url=http://www.bikeraceinfo.com/stageraces/ParisNice/parisnice.html|title= Paris-Nice history and results |publisher=bikeracerinfo.com |accessdate=2007-06-11] who was returning to form after a knee injury. Kelly finished second in Milan-Sanremo and the Ronde van Vlaanderen, but was unbeatable in Paris-Roubaixand Liège-Bastogne-Liège. On the paper following his Paris-Roubaixtriumph, the French daily sports newspaper l’Equipe had a picture of Kelly cycling over the cobbles with mud on his face and the heading "Insatiable Kelly!" referring to his appetite for winning that spring [ L’équipe newspaper page 1 April 16th 1984 ] In the Critérium International, he won all three stages: after winning the bunch sprint on stage 1, he took a solo victory in the mountain stage, and beat compatriot Stephen Rochein the final individual time trial. In total Kelly achieved 33 victories in 1984. He was becoming an emerging contender in the Grand Tours as could be seen by him finishing fifth overall in the Tour de France. This may have caused him to lose his grip on the Maillot vertin that year’s Tour. Kelly was wearing the maillot vert as the Tour was finishing on the Champs-Élyséesbut lost it in the final bunch finish to Belgian Frank Hostewho finished ahead of Kelly on the stage gaining valuable points to take the jersey off Kelly’s shoulders. [cite web| url=http://www.skilcyclingteam.com/blog/?cat=6|title= Sean Kelly ‘Dit jaar doe ik een gooi naar de wereldtitel’|publisher=Skil Shimano Cycling team |accessdate=2007-06-11]
In 1985, he won
Paris-Niceagain beating Stephen Roche. In the 1985 Tour de Francehe won the Maillot vertfor the third time and finished fourth in the General Classification. Kelly won the first edition of the Nissan International Classictour of Ireland beating Adri Van Der Poel. At the end of the season, he won the Giro di Lombardia. In 1986 he won Milan-Sanremo after winning Paris-Nice, he finished second in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and won Paris-Roubaix again. He finished for the first time on a podium in a Grand Tourwhen he finished third overall in the 1986 Vuelta a España. He returned to Ireland and won the Nissan Classicagain. His second win in the Nissan Classic came after a duel with Canadian Steve Bauerwho took the yellow jerseyafter Kelly crashed numerous times. Kelly went into the final stage 3 seconds behind Bauer on the general classification and took the jersey when he finished third on the stage and won bonus seconds. [cite web|url=http://www.loserdomzine.com/nissanclassic1986.htm|title=Loserdom's guide to the 1986 Nissan Classic|publisher=Loserdomzine.com|accessdate=2007-10-09]
In 1987 Kelly won
Paris-Niceon the very last day after Roche who was wearing the Leader’s jersey got a puncture in the finale of the stage and fell many places down the general classification. Later while leading the Vuelta a España with three days to go, he was forced to retire due to an infection. It was a bitter disappointment for him, and his bad luck continued in the Tour de France, having to retire after a crash tore ligaments in his shoulder. After the UCI Road World Championshipsin which in finished fifth behind Roche, Kelly returned to win his home tour, the Nissan Classic, for the third consecutive time with Roche finishing second.
In 1988 Kelly returned in the spring to win his seventh Paris-Nice (a record). Several weeks later he won
Gent-Wevelgem. In April he returned to the 1988 Vuelta a España. During the first two weeks of the race, Kelly had stayed two minutes behind race leader Spaniard Laudelino Cubinobut on stage 13 which was won by Colombian Fabio Parra, Kelly finished fourth on the stage behind Parra and Anselmo Fuerte. Kelly managed to cut over one minute and a half into Cubino’s lead. [cite web| url=http://www.emigrant.ie/article.asp?iCategoryID=200&iArticleID=16184|title= The Irish Emigrant May 8th 1988 issue no. 68 Sports news |accessdate=2007-06-11] From this stage, Anselmo Fuerte had moved himself into second overall and later took the jersey from Cubino on the sixteenth stage. [cite web| url=http://www.lavuelta.com/04/ingles/historia/88etapas.asp?a=1988&s=etapas&t=etapas&e=17|title= Stage winners and yellow jersey holders of 1988 Tour of Spain |accessdate=2007-06-11] But Kelly maintained the tight gap between himself and Fuerte and started the final Individual time trialof the second last day 21 seconds behind the leaders jersey. Kelly rode himself to the stage win and closed the gap to take the leaders Amarillo jersey from Fuerte. The following day Kelly would win his only grand tour over West German Raimund Dietzen. [cite web| url=http://www.emigrant.ie/article.asp?iCategoryID=200&iArticleID=16185|title= The Irish Emigrant May 15th 1988 issue no. 67 Sports news |accessdate=2007-06-11] He also won the Points competition. [cite web| url= http://www.lavuelta.com/04/ingles/historia/88clasi.asp?a=1988&s=clasi&t=clasificaciones&e=17#
title= Classifications of the 1988 Vuelta |publisher=lavuelta.com |accessdate=2007-06-07] After his Vuelta win Kelly returned home to Carrick an Suir where there was a parade held in his honour. [cite web| url=http://www.emigrant.ie/article.asp?iCategoryID=200&iArticleID=16186|title= The Irish Emigrant May 22nd 1988 issue no. 68 Sports news |accessdate=2007-06-11]
Tour de Franceof that year Kelly finished in 46th position just over an hour behind Spaniard Pedro Delgado. After this Kelly was no longer a contender for the overall victory in Grand Tours and even admitted that he’d never win the Tour de France. [cite web| url=http://www.emigrant.ie/article.asp?iCategoryID=200&iArticleID=17047|title= The Irish Emigrant July 24th 1988 issue no. 76 Sports news |accessdate=2007-06-11] In the Nissan Classic of that year, Kelly finished third behind German Rolf Gölz.
At the rainy world road championships of 1989 at Chambéry France, Kelly finished third in the final sprint behind Dimitri Konyshev and Greg Lemond. Lemond won his second rainbow jersey as world road race champion that day.
Kelly then switched teams to the Dutch PDM team with whom he stayed with for three years until the end of 1991. The following year he won Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Green Jersey in the Tour de France, and the inaugural
UCI Road World Cupchampionship.In 1990 Kelly won the Tour de Suisse. In 1991, Kelly had a tough year with a broken collarbone in March [cite web|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE5DC1F3CF933A25756C0A967958260|title= Kelly Trying to Recover Ground Lost to Injuries|publisher=New York Times|accessdate=2007-10-02] , then he had to pull out of the 1991 Tour de France[cite web|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE1D6113FF934A25754C0A967958260&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fSubjects%2fT%2fTour%20de%20France%20%28Bicycle%20Race%29|title=Illness forces entire PDM team to quit Tour|publisher=NY Times|accessdate=2007-10-02] and then while Seán was competing the Tour of Galicia in August, his brother Joe was tragically killed in a bicycle race near Carrick-on-Suir. [cite web|url=http://www.emigrant.ie/article.asp?iCategoryID=200&iArticleID=58486|title=News: Bits and Pieces|publisher=Irish Emigrant|accessdate=2007-10-02] He came back to win his fourth Nissan Classic by only four seconds over Sean Yates[cite web| url=http://www.emigrant.ie/article.asp?iCategoryID=200&iArticleID=59800|title= The Irish Emigrant September 30th 1991 issue no. 243 Sports news |accessdate=2007-06-11] and then went to and won the classic at the end of the season, the Giro di Lombardia.
Twilight of his career
After winning the Giro di Lombardia for a third time in 1991, he started 1992 generally regarded as past his prime. With a change of team to Festina, Kelly prepared for the season's opening classic,
Milan-Sanremo. Kelly had one early season stage win in Volta a la Comunitat Valencianaafter which he rode in the Tirreno-Adriatico.
On the final climb of the
Milan-Sanremo, the Poggio, race favourite Moreno Argentinattacked from the leading group. After several attacks, he finally broke clear and scaled the climb, reaching the top with some eight seconds advance on the peloton. It seemed that Argentin was well on his way to a solo victory as the peloton descended the Poggio where Maurizio Fondriestled on the descent, marked by Argentin’s teammate Rolf Sorensen. Behind these two in the third position was Kelly. With around three kilometres left of descending Kelly attacked, Sorensen could not hold his acceleration and Kelly got away. Kelly descended very well and caught Argentin under the kilometre kite (one kilometre to go). With the chasing group closing fast, both riders stalled momentarily, Argentin even sat up and gestured to Kelly to take the front but Kelly stayed on Argentin’s wheel. The two moved again, preparing for a sprint; Kelly launched himself and in the final 200 metres came past Argentin to claim his final Classic victory. In 1992, Kelly traveled over to Colombiaand competed in the Clasico RCNwhere he won the second stage. [cite web|url=http://www.jeandegribaldy.com/index.php?zone=pages/kelly|title=Sean Kelly Palmeres|publisher=Jean de Gribaldy.com|accessdate=2007-10-02] PDM teammate Martin Earleypushed Kelly into 2nd place in the 1993 Irish National Road Race Championship. Kelly’s last year as a professional was 1994 when he rode for the Catavana team. That year, he won a silver medal in the Irish National Cycling Championshipsbehind Martin Earley. Often at the end of the racing season, Kelly would return to Carrick on Suir and would ride the annual Hamper race that used to be held. That year the Hamper race was Kelly’s last race as a professional. Eddy Merckx, Laurent Fignon, Bernard Hinault, Roger De Vlaeminck, Claude Criquielion, Stephen Roche, Martin Earley, Acacio Da Silva, Paul Kimmageand Phil Liggettwere among the 1,200 cyclists who turned up for the event. [cite web| url= http://www.cyclingnews.com/results/2001/dec01/dec13news3.php |title=Cyclingnews December 13 2001 Hamper Race |publisher=Cyclingnews |accessdate=2007-07-04] The President of Irelandat the time, Mary Robinson, attended a civic presentation to Seán the day before the race. Kelly won the race in a sprint against Stephen Roche. Kelly would win this race again 6 years later.
Kelly's career is remarkable in that it spanned the eras of several cycling legends of the
Tour de France. In his first year as a professional he rode against aging yet still challenging Eddy Merckx. His first Tour was also the first Tour for Bernard Hinaultand the two battled in the sprint of Stage 15. Greg LeMondand Laurent Fignonemerged in the early eighties and battled with Kelly in classics as well as in the Tour, and Kelly witnessed the rise of Miguel Indurainand the early career of Lance Armstrong. In addition, Kelly's career coincided with that of his fellow Irishman and occasional rival Stephen Rocheas well as the many classics specialists of the eighties and early nineties which included Francesco Moser, Claude Criquielion, Moreno Argentinand Eric Vanderaerden. Evidence of Kelly's dominance can be seen from his three victories in the season-long " Super Prestige Pernod International" competition (the predecessor to the World Cup). Kelly also competed throughout the entire season, from the season-opener Paris-Nicein early March to season-finale Giro di Lombardiain October, starting and finishing the season by winning both of these events in 1983 and 1985.
Kelly is also the subject of several books, including his biography "Kelly" and "A man for all seasons" by David Walsh.
Kelly is still involved in cycling; he is now a commentator for Eurosport on major cycling events and has established and is heavily involved in the Seán Kelly Cycling Academy in Belgium. In 2006 Kelly launched Ireland's first professional cycling team, the
Seán Kelly Team, composed of young Irish and Belgian riders based around the Seán Kelly Cycling Academy and managed by Kelly.
He participates in long-distance charity cycling tours with the "Blazing Saddles", a cycling charity dedicated to raising money for the blind and partially sighted. Such tours have included a journey across America by bike in 2001.
He also participates in charity cycling endurance events in Scotland (notably with the Braveheart Cycling Fund), England, France and his native Ireland.
The inaugural Seán Kelly Tour of Waterford was held on the 19 August 2007. [cite web
title = Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford
url = http://www.theseankellytour.com/Default.aspx
accessdate = 2007-08-20 ] Kelly was one of the 600 participants.
The 2nd Seán Kelly Tour of Waterford was held on the 24 August 2008. Kelly was one of the 2048 participants
Grand Tour record
*1978 - Tour de France: 34th GC; Stage 6 win
*1979 - Tour de France: 38th GC
Vuelta a España: Stages 1 and 5 wins
*1980 - Tour de France: 29th GC; Stages 19 and 21 wins; 2nd Points class
*1980 - ; Stages 1, 2, 14, 17 and 19 wins; Sprints class winner
*1981 - Tour de France: 48th GC; Stage 17 win
*1982 - ; Stage 13 win
*1983 - ;
*1984 - Tour de France: 5th GC; 2nd Points class
*1985 - ;
*1985 - ; Stages 2, 9 and 15 wins
*1986 - ; Stages 10 and 13 wins; Mixed class winner
*1987 - Tour de France: DNF
*1987 - Vuelta a España: DNF; Stages 1 and 3 wins; held Gold Leaders Jersey for 4 stages
*1988 - Tour de France: 46th GC; 3rd Points class
*1988 - ; Stages 11 and 20 wins; Mixed class winner
*1990 - Tour de France: 30th GC
*1991 - Tour de France: DNF
*1992 - Tour de France: 43rd GC
'Monument' victories (9)
Giro di Lombardia1983, 1985, 1991 (also won amateur version in 1976)
Other 'classic' victories
Grand Prix des Nations1986
Tour du Haut Var1982
*Criterium des As 1984, 1985, 1986
tage race victories
Vuelta a España(1988)
Paris-Nice(1982-1988) (7 consecutive wins, a record)
Tour de Suisse(1983, 1990)
Volta a Catalunya(1984, 1986)
Vuelta al País Vasco(1984, 1986, 1987)
Critérium International(1983, 1984, 1987)
Three Days of De Panne(1980)
Nissan International Classic(1985, 1986, 1987, 1991) (4 wins, a record)
* [http://www.seankelly.com/index.php SeanKelly.com]
* [http://www.seankellycyclingacademy.com/ Sean Kelly Cycling Academy]
* [http://www.jeandegribaldy.com/index.php?zone=pages/kelly Sean Kelly and Jean de Gribaldy, fr icon]
NAME= Kelly, Seán
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Kelly, Seán James
Road bicycle racer
DATE OF BIRTH=
PLACE OF BIRTH=
Curraghduff, County Waterford, Republic of Ireland
DATE OF DEATH=
PLACE OF DEATH=
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