Ireland was in the doldrums in 1987 and Stephen Roches win in the Giro, Tour and World champs lifted some of the gloom.
His successes that year gave a massive boost to Irish Cycling, gave the push for the (then) three Irish cycling bodies to join together. Tourism benefitted with Ireland getting more visibility in Europe.
So its great to be able to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fantastic achievement of Stephen. Winning the Tour De France Giro and World Roads Champs in one year is huge. So huge that the only other cyclist to achieve this is the greatest cyclist in the History of road racing, the great Eddy Merckx.
A lot of Irish people involved in cycling today might not have experienced that cycling year, or Stephens cycling years prior to the wins.
I have sourced a few Videos that show some of the qualities that made him such a great cyclist.  and mentioned a few things from his pre professional years.
Then there must have been many instances  of personal impact of his victories.

The postmen’s Polka  Dot Jersey battle

The postman’s climbing bike

Let me tell you a small personal story that Stephens great year meant and still means to me. Cycling was very much a minority sport at that time. I was a postman and worked with lots of people in the Post office that followed GAA, Soccer and horse racing. Then  Stephen won the Giro and the interest in cycling went up..

When he took the yellow jersey in the Tour interest exploded!

For  the last week of the Tour everyone was following Roches exploits on the radio and newspapers. No wall  to wall cycling coverage on TV then. All the other sports were forgotten about. All the talk was  about the Tour!

Suddenly the group  of us that used to cycle together from Baldoyle sorting office to the start  of our letter deliveries in Donaghmede every morning became a peleton! The polka dot jersey was awarded  to the postman who won the sprint to the top of the old railway bridge. There were some shapes thrown as the post office bikes with the bags of mails on the front hopped around  the place to get to the top first.

Then there was  the slagging, laughing, gasping spluttering and coughing for a few minutes after the sprint as men who were fond of a few pints and smokes recovered. This was absolute  magic for a cyclist like myself to be having my sport celebrated like this thanks to Roche’s great talent, hard work, and determination.

Early dedication

As a young teenager Stephen rarely if ever missed the 9.30 Am Orwell Sunday spins.  Often arriving directly from completing a milk delivery round with  his dad that had begun at 4 am.

Poetry in motion – Chasing the pedals

When I think of Roche in full flight the term “Poetry In Motion” comes to mind.  He worked hard  on his ability to pedal by deliberately keeping the gears low for training and racing. The late Steve Flynn, Roches neighbour would have influenced this for many young Orwell Cyclists. these were easy enjoyable sessions spinning low gears. Steve had a great term for this “Chasing the pedals”    Video Roche Chasing the pedals

Physical Ability recovery

Roche Recovering after a momentous finishing burst

We seen his outstanding physical ability in the 1979 Ras. Basically he won the race on one leg. Every morning it was as if Roche had not raced  the day before. Each stage he seemed to get stronger as other riders got tired.

We have to remember that his 79 Ras win was achieved on restricted training time as he finished his apprenticeship and worked and studied.  La Plagne

Pride

There was a story of a Pro rider telling him to “take it easy son” during the Liam Toolin Race when Roche was a first year senior. The Liam Toolin race was a tough 80 miles race in North Dublin, usually in March or April so cold and windy.

Roche was in the winning break.  UH  UH wrong thing to say! Roche proceeded to ride harder and put the whole break under pressure. How many times during his pro career did that same pride spur him on?

Attention  to detail

His attention to detail won a Tour De France3 stage on the Col Aubisque when Roche and his manager Geminiani made a big audacious plan to snatch the stage. the stage was from the bottom o the top of the mountain.

Geminiani  the legendary French manager and Roche planned everything in detail for the stage. Rest, precise time of meals, best bike, wheels, equipment and surprise attack. Roche attacked from the line and time trialled to the Summit    Video

Confidence

He had huge self confidence. Later it became obvious that Roche knew he had a special gift for cycling. Then like all great athletes he worked hard to make the best of his talent.

Win or lose he was always pleasant and ready to have another go in the next race. Career video

Celebrate it, It might never happen again!  See his  Autobiography  

You can even cycle with him, a real legend Stephen Roche Cycling 

Paddy Doran Level 3 Cycling Coach and Tutor @ www.peakendurancecoaching.ie