The second edition of the Nissan International Classic

1986 Nissan Classic
The second edition began on September 27th and at the start line were many stars of cycling. Kelly was returning to defend his title but his opposition included Greg LeMond, the 1983 world champion and the winner of the Tour de France of the previous July. Roche was out due to his injured leg. Adri van der Poel was back with 1980 Tour de France winner and 1985 world champion Joop Zoetemelk. Teun van Vliet was back too. The winner of the green jersey of the Tour de France that July, Eric Vanderaerden was there as well as Australians Phil Anderson and Alan Peiper as well the Scottish cyclist Robert Millar.

Kelly’s team in 1986 was to be Guinness-Kas. The paper carried a picture of Kelly at a reception in Dublin with Tony Murtagh the marketing manager of Guinness group. Both held pints of Guinness and Kelly wore a long sleeved cycling top with GUINNESS in both leaders across the front. On Kelly’s team were Acasio da Silvia, Jorg Muller, Alfred Ackermann and Stefan Joho. Kelly came from winning the Grand Prix des Nations time trial classic in Cannes the previous Sunday and was out to win.

Greg LeMond had Steve Bauer, Kim Anderson, Kim Erikssen and Phillipe Chevalier in his La Vie Claire team. Martin Earley was with Frank Hoste in Fagor. Paul Kimmage rode with Tony Doyle in Ever Ready. Alan McCormack rode with Ron Kiefel and Ron Hayman for the American team Thor. Other teams and stars included 1985 Vuelta a Espana winner Pedro Delgado, Hennie Kuiper, Malcolm Elliot and Bob Downs. Three amateur teams were competing from Ireland, Great Britain and the Netherlands. The Irish amateur team included Cormac McCann and the Dutch team had John Talen.

LeMond was not very enthusiastic while Kelly said his form was “super”; “I am as keen to win as last year and although it is very difficult to control a race like this with a team of only five, I am hoping for the best.”

Stage 1:Dublin to Galway

An Taoiseach Dr. Garret FitzGerald together with the Minister for Sport Sean Barrett TD posed with Kelly and LeMond at the race start in Trinity for the papers. On the first stage from Dublin to Galway, Dutch amateur Johannes Draaijer attacked early and his lead grew to over twelve minutes but was caught with twenty miles to go. The peloton then did two laps of just over two miles of Galway. Teun van Vliet led out Eric Vanderaerden in the last mile in the sprint into Eyre Square. Vanderaerden hit the front and powered away. Kelly shouted to teammate Joho to chase but had to go after him himself. Kelly hit a pothole inside the last 300 metres but still got second place. He wasn’t too happy to have been beaten but reasoned “there is a long way to go and many hills to be climbed.” Joho was third and Malcolm Elliot was fourth.

Stage 2:Galway to Limerick

Denis Ertveldt and Aidan Harrison attacked and got an eleven minute lead which earned Harrison the king of the mountains jersey. They were caught with 20 miles to go. On Corkscrew hill, Teun van Vliet led. Then there was a high speed crash that ended the race for Joop Zoetemelk, Steven Rooks and Frank Kersten. On the final of two laps, a group of seven got a slight lead which included Kelly, Joho, Ackerman, van der Poel, Adrian Timmis and Chris Lillywhite but Panasonic team nullified the move. Sean Yates surged ahead but was caught. Phil Anderson then attacked, then Erik Eriksen tried, then Bauer made his move and was joined by Steve Jones and Jacques Hanegraaf. They held out and
Steve Bauer ahead of Dutchman Jacques Hanegraaf up a crowded O’Connell street. Steve Jones was third. Eric Vanderaerden beat Kelly in the bunch sprint with Malcolm Elliot next. Bauer became the new leader.

Stage 3:Kilarney to Kilarney

The third stage was Kilarney looping to Kilarney with the peloton taking the Gap of Dunloe and Molls Gap. The peloton took the “dreaded” Pony road. Kelly got a puncture but teammate Jorg Muller gave him a wheel. A break of Kim Anderson and Joey McLoughlin went early and continued on to the Gap of Dunloe. McLoughlin punctured and Anderson went on to win. 59 seconds later, Teun van Vliet beating Kelly, Bauer and four others for second place. Bauer kept the lead.

Stage 3B: Kilarney to Cork

Phil Anderson won Stage 3B which went from Kilarney to Cork. He attacked with 20 miles and left a sedate peloton. Tony Doyle set out to try to catch Anderson. Meanwhile back, the peloton had hit the finishing circuit around Cork that used St Patrick’s Hill. Kelly fell at the end of Wellington road just before the turn onto St.Patrick’s Hill for the first of the four ascents of the climb. His chain came off and his gear jammed. Kelly had to wait for a bike from teammate Acacio da Silvia. He then had to get going again on the steep ascent but he managed to work his way back into the chasing group that contained Bauer. Up ahead Tony Doyle couldn’t catch Anderson but finished second. Kelly managed to win the bunch sprint for third. This brought him to level time with Bauer in the overall but his higher points total gave him the yellow jersey.
After taking the jersey Kelly said “I had to take the jersey today, they would not let me back to Carrick without it.”

Stage 4: Cork to Clonmel

On stage 4 to Clonmel. After the bunch split on Seskin Hill near Carrick-on-Suir, Kelly was in a group of 23 going into two laps of a circuit of Clonmel which included Knocklas Hill. He took a hot spot sprint and gained three seconds over Bauer but then in the chase after Phil Anderson who had attacked. Kelly fell on a fast descent. He quickly remounted and battled to take 4th place. Phil Anderson had won the stage while Bauer took second with Kim Anderson taking third. As a result of the time bonuses, Kelly lost the yellow jersey to Bauer.

Stage 5:to Dublin

Now there was only one stage remaining but Bauer led Kelly by only a few seconds. The bonus sprint seconds on the final day would prove decisive if Kelly was to take back the yellow jersey. At Merrion, Kelly misjudged the hot spot sprint and only came second with Bauer third. This reduced the gap to Bauer to two seconds. On the next hot spot sprint Kelly cut the deficit to just one second when he finished second in the sprint and Bauer was third. Now the battle depended on the time bonuses awarded for the final sprint. Teun van Vliet, the leader of the King of the Mountains competition broke clear on the final lap in Dublin and raced around Parnell square. Kelly didn’t chase and Bauer stayed on his wheel. Vanderaerden surged out of the leading group on the final corner. Kelly delayed his sprint and held off Bauer to take third place. The bonus seconds he won there were enough for him to take the lead from Bauer. He won the race with only three seconds ahead of Bauer. Kelly said “Bauer was riding well, he made a great fight of it. I knew it would be difficult and I was never able to relax until it was finished, but my team did a good job. It was a super race, you only see crowds like that at the Tour de France.”

Kelly was not at ease starting out in Arklow as he was “a bit demoralised the way the luck has (had) gone against me with falls on two days in a row.” On the front page of the Irish Times, it was written that Kelly’s win in the second Nissan Classic “was due not only to sheer physical strength and determination but a measure of shrewdness picked up over the years as a professional on the continent.” Kelly said “if this had been a race on the continent , I wouldn’t have had the morale to go out and win. But here the people willed me on and it had an effect on my attitude.”

“They (the continental riders) gave me a bit of space to manoeuvre. In continental races, they wouldn’t give you an inch. I suppose more of them wanted me to win at home in Ireland than wanted Bauer to win.”

Kelly took yellow and won the £9,200 Nissan Car which he pledged to his teammates. Kelly also took the points. Teun van Vliet took the king of the mountains competition while Malcolm Elliot took the hot spot sprints. Overall, Steve Bauer was second and Kim Andersen third. Teun van Vliet was 4th, Adrian Timmis 5th, Adri Van Der Poel 6th, Ron Kiefel 7th, Joey McLoughlin 8th, Phil Anderson 9th and Martin Earley was 10th.