Yesterday cycling fans throughout the world were glued to their tv screens, laptops and iphones to see a fantastic Tour of Flanders. Fabian Cancellara decimated the opposition with a superb display of sheer power and determination. Any 17 or 18-year-old listening to the Eurosport coverage might have heard David Harmon mention that his co-commentator Sean Kelly had finished second in the Tour of Flanders. That is only a very small part of the story .
If you have been enjoying watching the cycling coverage on TV this year and the variety of winners and top 3 finishers in each race. Paris Nice , Milan San Remo , The Tour of Flanders , The Tour of The Basque country this week and Paris Roubaix next Sunday . Imagine if the same guy was winning almost every race . That is what Sean Kelly did !
He began the 1986 season by dominating Paris Nice as he did on 6 other occasions . Then he went on to win Milan San Remo . But it was the eight days from the Tour of Flanders to Paris Roubaix in 1986 that give an indication of what makes him better than Cancellara or anyone else for that matter with the possible exception of Merckx .
After a savage day on the roads of Flanders Kelly was beaten in the sprint by Adri VanderPoel. Afterwards Kelly got changed, hopped into a car and drove to Brussels airport where he caught the last flight to Spain. ( Now think about Cancellara having a nice handy recovery spin in Belgium this morning savouring his victory and spending the rest of this week familiarizing himself with the course of next Sundays Paris Roubaix .) The next morning Kelly was on the start line of the Tour of the Basque country and by Friday found himself almost 3 minutes in areers to a Spanish mountain goat at the start of the final stage time trial. Kelly absolutely buried himself in that final time trial as many of his opposition for Paris Roubaix were cruising around parts of the Paris Roubaix course, and managed to win the tt by such a margin that he took overall victory in the race. Next morning it was back to the airport and a flight to Paris in time for the next days race. Here he dominated the ‘Hell of the North’ as it is known and took yet another monumental cycling victory.
After this Kelly went on to finish third in the Tour of Spain and win the points jersey. A bad crash in the Tour of Switzerland put him out of the Tour de France where he was one of the favourites, but he came back again winning a total of 33 races that year !
Lance Armstrong this morning says on his twitter page that he feels as if he’s been run over by a truck after yesterday’s race , Kelly would be racing instead of tweeting !