‘Classic’ capture

sean kelly and greg lemond

The late Jimmy Magee interviewing one of his all-time sporting heroes, Sean Kelly, during the Nissan International Classic in early October 1986.

The Curraghduff, County Waterford man went on to win the race by a mere 3 seconds after a five-day, 520-mile “spin” around the “super”-smooth roads of Ireland.

Surviving two heavy falls in Cork and Clonmel en route to overall victory, Kelly’s speciality as a sprinter enabled him to collect enough time bonuses on the final stage to just pip Canada’s Steve Bauer.

Newspaper advert for the 1986 Nissan Classic

An estimated 400,000 people watched the second annual event (advertised above), which again featured a host of big names from the professional peloton.

“If I could export that kind of support I’m sure I would do better [on the continent],” said the world’s then-No.1 cyclist, who collected a £9,295 Nissan Sunny car from the sponsors.

Looking on (just over Jimmy’s shoulder) is 3-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond, who’d claimed his first yellow jersey that July, becoming the first non-European to top the podium in Paris.

The following spring the American was almost killed in a hunting accident, while Kelly went on to claim a third successive Nissan title in the autumn.

These days both former riders are regular contributors on Eurosport, though the Memory Man’s mic is now sadly silent.

The glory days of “The Nissan” are among the many themes covered in Barry Ryan’s brilliantly researched book, The Ascent.

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