not for thin-minded people

Monday, 12 March 2012

Meeting Sean Kelly 1988 - Ronse Worlds

This was the third occasion on which I hoped to meet Sean Kelly. Quite honestly, it was never likely I was going to meet him, the best I could hope was that I'd see him and see him win. I'd already got to hold his bike at the Kelloggs Birmingham city centre criterium in 1986, then witnessed his attacking power in the 1987 Tour of Britain. But I didn't have his autograph - and in those days that was what really mattered.

So in 1988 I was lucky enough that my cycling club organised a trip to the world road race championships in Ronse, Belgium.

We set off in a builders van for the long drive to Belgium, I don't remember much about the journey but looking at the van now - I'm sure it took at least two days.

Arriving at the circuit the day before, we took some time to walk some sections of the course and try and find a good spot to watch the action from. We checked out the finish and the hill climb section before wandering around to a back section of the course. At that point the barriers had a gap, and while stood there deciding what to do next one of our group spotted the spanish team coming down the circuit. Led by the 1988 Tour de France winner Pedro Delgado they made their way to OUR GAP! I was so excited and flapped to get my pristine race programme and pen out, there was literally no other fans around so his autograph was going to be mine. But no, it turned out that Pedro Delgado was a miserable git and refused to sign it! I never did like him anyway.

Despite not liking him I did feel a bit deflated, I suppose in later life I'd get used to be knocked back, but at seventeen years of age it was not a nice feeling and nothing could make me feel better.

Or could it. Moments after the Spanish git had buggered off the chosen one appeared. It couldn't be true could it - the Irish team were coming down the circuit and they were also making their way to OUR GAP!

The Irish team,was Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche, Paul Kimmage and Martin Earley. What a difference, they stopped and chatted to us. Being 1988 I had one of those awful cameras that you had to manually wind forward and missed getting a picture of Sean, I did get this one of Stephen above though.

It didn't matter about the photo though, I got the autograph! I felt a bit bad, but after getting both Sean and Stephens autographs on my programme, I decided I didn't want Martin Earley's or Paul Kimmage's on it. Good riders as they were and all that - sorry Martin/ Paul.

Soon enough they were gone.

 Of course Sean never won the Worlds that year, but the following year Stephen Roche would go on to complete the triple - Giro, Tour de France and Worlds.

I felt like I'd completed my own triple by 1988 though and twenty four years later my prized possession still lives on my kitchen wall.

Note - I stopped stalking Sean Kelly in 1988

Other race shots from 1988 Ronse Worlds.

Sean riding in peloton - Malcolm Elliott (Fagor) to his left

Sean Kelly

Sean again! Sean Yates (Fagor) in front

Greg Lemond - early aero helmet!


Post a Comment