The postmen’s Polka Dot Jersey battle
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.
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
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
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
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