Sean Kelly (cyclist)

Sean Kelly
Sean Kelly, Tour de France 2009.jpg
Kelly in 2009
Personal information
Full nameJohn James Kelly
NicknameSean, King Kelly[1]
Born (1956-05-24) 24 May 1956 (age 63)
Waterford City, County Waterford,[2] Ireland
Height1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Weight77 kg (170 lb; 12 st 2 lb)
Team information
Current teamRetired
Rider typeStarted as a sprinter
Became an all-rounder
Professional team(s)
1977–1978Flandria–Velda–Latina Assicurazioni
1979–1981Splendor–Euro Soap
1982–1983Sem–France Loire–Campagnolo
Major wins
Grand Tours
Tour de France
Points classification (1982, 1983, 1985, 1989)
Intermediate sprints classification (1982, 1983, 1989)
5 individual stages
Vuelta a España
General classification (1988)
Points classification (1980, 1985, 1986, 1988)
16 individual stages

Stage races

Paris–Nice (1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988)
Tour de Suisse (1983, 1990)
Tour of the Basque Country (1984, 1986, 1987)
Volta a Catalunya (1984, 1986)
Critérium International (1983, 1984, 1987)

One-day races and Classics

Milan–San Remo (1986, 1992)
Paris–Roubaix (1984, 1986)
Liège–Bastogne–Liège (1984, 1989)
Giro di Lombardia (1983, 1985, 1991)
Gent–Wevelgem (1988)
Paris–Tours (1984)


Super Prestige Pernod International (1984–1986)
UCI Road World Cup (1989)

John James 'Sean' Kelly (born 24 May 1956)[3] is an Irish former professional road bicycle racer, one of the most successful road cyclists of the 1980s, and one of the finest classics riders of all time. From turning professional in 1977 until his retirement in 1994, he won nine monument classics, and 193 professional races in total. He won Paris–Nice seven years in a row and the first UCI Road World Cup in 1989. He won the 1988 Vuelta a España and had multiple wins in the Giro di Lombardia, Milan–San Remo, Paris–Roubaix and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Other victories include the Critérium International, Grand Prix des Nations and smaller tours including the Tour de Suisse, Tour of the Basque Country and Volta a Catalunya.

Kelly twice won bronze medals (1982, 1989) in the World Road Race Championships and finished 5th in 1987, the year compatriot Stephen Roche won gold. Kelly was first to be ranked No.1 when the FICP rankings were introduced in March 1984, a position he held for a record five years. In the 1984 season, Kelly achieved 33 victories.

Early life and amateur career

Kelly is the second son of Jack (John) and Nellie Kelly, a farming family in Curraghduff in County Waterford. He was born at Belleville Maternity Home in Waterford city on 21 May 1956. He was named John James Kelly after his father and then, to avoid confusion at home, referred to as Sean.[4] Seán is the Irish form of John.

For eight years he attended Crehana National School, County Waterford to which he travelled with his older brother, Joe. Fellow pupils recall a boy who retreated into silence because, they thought, he felt intellectually outclassed.[5] His education ended at 13 when he left school to help on the farm after his father went to hospital in Waterford with an ulcer. At 16 he began work as a bricklayer.

Kelly began cycling after his brother had started riding to school in September 1969. Joe rode and won local races and on 4 August 1970 Sean rode his own first race, at Kennedy Terrace in Carrickbeg, County Waterford, part of Carrick-on-Suir. The race was an eight-mile (13 km) handicap, which meant the weaker riders started first and the best last. Kelly set off three minutes before the backmarkers. He was still three minutes ahead when the course turned for home after four miles (6 km) and more than three minutes in the lead when he crossed the line. At 16 he won the national junior championship at Banbridge, County Down.

Kelly won the national championship again in 1973, then took a senior licence before the normal qualifying age of 18 and won the Shay Elliot Memorial race in 1974 and again in 1975 and stages in the Tour of Ireland of 1975.[6]

Kelly and two other Irish riders, Pat and Kieron McQuaid, went to South Africa to ride the Rapport Tour stage-race in preparation for the 1976 Olympic Games. They and others rode under false names[7] because of an international ban on athletes competing in South Africa, as a protest against apartheid. The three Irish were suspended from racing for six months. They were racing again when the International Olympic Committee banned them from the Olympics for life.[8]

Unable to ride in Canada, Kelly rode the 1976 Tour of Britain and then went to Metz, in France, after a London enthusiast, Johnny Morris, had arranged an invitation. Velo Club de Metz offered him £25 a week, free accommodation and four francs a kilometre for every race he won. Kelly won 18 of the 25 races he started in France and won the amateur Giro di Lombardia in Italy.

The win in Italy impressed two French team managers, Jean de Gribaldy and Cyrille Guimard. De Gribaldy went to Ireland unannounced to discuss a contract with the Flandria professional team.[9] He did not know where Kelly lived and was not sure he would recognise him, so he took with him another cyclist, to point out Kelly, and translate. Kelly was out driving a tractor and de Gribaldy set out again in the taxi that had brought him from Dublin, hoping to find Kelly as he drove home. They found him and went to Kelly's stepbrother's house. De Gribaldy offered £4,000 a year plus bonuses, and a week later Kelly asked for £6,000, and got it. He signed for de Gribaldy, with misgivings about going back on his promise to return to VC de Metz; the club had offered him better terms than before.[10]

Kelly left for France in January 1977 and lived for two years at 18 place de la Révolution in Besançon, de Gribaldy's home town. He shared with four teammates.

Other Languages
asturianu: Sean Kelly
brezhoneg: Seán Kelly
català: Sean Kelly
čeština: Sean Kelly
Deutsch: Sean Kelly
español: Sean Kelly
euskara: Seán Kelly
فارسی: شان کلی
français: Sean Kelly
galego: Sean Kelly
italiano: Sean Kelly
latviešu: Šons Kelijs
Nederlands: Seán Kelly
Plattdüütsch: Sean Kelly
polski: Sean Kelly
português: Sean Kelly
русский: Келли, Шон
српски / srpski: Шон Кели
svenska: Seán Kelly