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Rock of the Suir
Caricature by Jon Knight
Sean Kelly is from a place called Carrick-on-Suir, in County Tipperary. Suir is the name of the river passing through the town, while Carrick derives from a Gaelic word for rock. And 'Rock of the Suir' sounds so bloody perfect for Kelly that it should have been his nickname.
Kelly was a simple lad, the son of a farmer, and a boy who had a very basic upbringing. Academically speaking he was no shining star and it was his brother, Joe, who first got him into cycling; I think there is some story of the Kelly boys arriving at Sean’s first race with the future Classics legend on a bike half his size.
Growing up horsing around on the family farm, Kelly acquired the kind of strength that only comes with repeated daily manual labour. He's the kind of guy I imagine having spuds for breakfast, lunch and dinner and you would also imagine little in the way of luxuries. I doubt there were many Mars bars in Mrs Kelly's kitchen cupboards.
People mention how disciplined he was (he famously went to bed early every night) and he was certainly money hungry. His compatriot, Stephen Roche, was also brought up on simple means but whereas Roche seemed drawn to the flashier side of stardom, Kelly always seemed grounded.
Kelly would drive all round France to clean up at the criteriums, sleeping an hour here and there in his car. He was undoubtedly physiologically gifted and always claimed he didn’t have to train as hard as the rest of the peloton. I’m convinced that his farm upbringing, with its emphasis on manual labour, served Kelly well down the years. Bernard Hinault had a similar background, as did Miguel Indurain. These were men whose philosophy toward life, and riding, was forged from working the land. Farm boys. Tough lads. Rocks of the road.
- Last week was a great one for Rapha Condor JLT, all the action and images now up on the team site: http://t.co/ftBejPnnCJ
- RT @alainrumpf: Well done @mike_cuming and @raphacondorjlt winner of #TdK2013 under the scrutiny of latest drone… http://t.co/gv81uP9mHP
- In their attempt to cross the US in 24 days, @michaeltabtabai & Andrew Hudon will ‘Leave It On The Road’. → http://t.co/Per6QsCAtt
- We are delighted to announce the opening of a one-month, pop-up @RaphaCycleClub in Tokyo this summer from 22/6–21/7 → http://t.co/Jrc0EKZ9ky
- Huge congratulations to @raphacondorjlt’s @mike_cuming for winning the @TourdeKorea2013 and to @tomsoutham for best DS. #TdK2013
- @danfromnam in Corsica — outtake from our 2013 Spring/Summer shoot #corsica #beningstagram http://t.co/03A7pT9mtj
- Winner Winner Chicken Dinner ! The most important jersey of #TdK2013 hot off the press. http://t.co/Pflx0eUfdv”
- What a day... The boys keep Mike Cuming in yellow, after having to chase all day. Great performance by all.
- Just rehearsing the whole of Pacino's speech from Any Given Sunday to recite to the boys...
- UK: Thanks to all who came to to tonight’s Rapha Étape Evening in London with @CyclefitUK — one of our biggest turnouts yet.