The fourth edition of the Nissan International Classic

1988 Nissan Classic

The fourth edition of the Nissan Classic was held between the 28th September to the 2nd October 1988. Kelly was riding for Kas-Dublin Bus with Martin Earley, 1984 Tour of Spain winner Eric Cartioux, Acacio da Silva and Thomas Wegmuller. Roche was riding for Fagor-Ever Ready with Malcolm Elliot who had just won the Tour of Britain. They were joined by Robert Millar, Sean Yates and John Carlsen. Neither Roche nor Kelly were at their best over the previous months and were not seen as the favourites. Roche had a tough year with his knee injury and only really returned to competition during the Tour of Britain where he rode for Elliot. Kelly had finally won a grand tour that year with the Tour of Spain but during the Tour de France he didn’t find his form at all and finished very far down the classification. Systeme U had a strong team with Laurent Fignon, Charly Mottet, Jean Louis Pellon, Christophe Lavanne and Pascal Dubois. Mottet had just won the Grand Prix des Nations the previous Sunday while Laurent Fignon had won the Tour of the European Community in Luxemburg the Sunday before that. A week before Mottet had won the previous week the Grand Prix Latium in Italy. Other stars were Jean Francois Bernard, Martial Gayant and Steve Bauer. Rolf Gölz had just won the Paris-Brussels race by beating Fignon in a sprint. Other stars included Phil Anderson who had won the Tour of Denmark the previous August, Adri van der Poel, Greg LeMond, Eddy Planckeart, Eric Vanderaerden and Paul Kimmage.

The route is not too severe with few tough climbs. The only first category climb was Ladies Brae near Sligo and the Silvermines, Gallows Hill.

Stage one: to Boyle
The first hours of the first stage were described as a “boring affair and (were) not entitied to be even called a race.” The peloton showed little inclination to race into a cold head wind with showers. But during the three laps of the circuit around Boyle, the race came alive. Christophe Lavainne was the surprise winner with Elliot winning the group sprint for second place at 32 seconds. Adri van der Poel was third and Seán Kelly was fourth. Kelly had been chasing the bonus sprints in Mullingar and Longford and had been second in both. Roche and Earley finished at 1:30 down, Kimmage 2:20, Bauer, Fignon, Yates, LeMond and Vanderaerden were 3:16, Mottet came in at 5:10 and Jean Francois Bernard and Eddy Plankaert came in at 8:35. The sharp bends and the climbs up Old Coach Road in the circuit of Boyle caused the time gaps.

Stage 2:Sligo to Galway

The following day brought the peloton from Sligo to Galway. It rained heavily at the beginning of the stage. Laurent Fignon retired after 12 miles complaining of a troublesome knee being too sore. Jean Francois Bernard and Plankaert also gave up. A leading group of 22 got away. Phil Anderson of the TVM team was among them and attacked the group at Salthill. He managed to stay away over the three laps of Galway to win the stage by 31 seconds. Lavainne got a puncture and had to have a bike change and consequently finished way back and lost his yellow jersey. Phil Anderson took the jersey.

Stage 3

The following day Darryl Webster attacked the peloton after 30 miles and quickly built up a lead of 14 minutes which at 56 miles was 19 minutes. On the Silvermines climb he said that the helicopter following the race caused a downdraft that upset him and then later he was guided the wrong way on the finishing circuit where he lost around a minute, he still went on to win the stage by three and a half minutes over the peloton. Meanwhile Phil Anderson had a puncture and came in over six minutes down. Malcolm Elliot won the bonus sprints along the way but Kelly beat him in the sprint for second place. In the bunch sprint Kelly made a powerful effort out of the saddle and clipped an advertising board with his right pedal taking a piece out of it but still won the bunch gallop. Elliot took the leader’s yellow jersey but with a slender advantage over the next three in the general classification; Kelly was second overall at two seconds. Adri van der Poel was now four seconds off the jersey with Rolf Gölz 13 seconds off it.

Stage 4 and Stage 5 to Dublin

The following day was the decisive point of the race. Phil Anderson once again won a stage this time from a breakaway group of four. He came from the fourth wheel to beat Vermote, Museeuw and Gölz. The time gap to Elliot and Kelly gave Gölz the yellow jersey then on the final day Gölz increased his slender lead over Elliot and Kelly when he won the bonus sprints seconds at a hot spots sprint. The final stage was won by Alan Peiper. Paul Kimmage had been up the front as the peloton went over the hill of Howth several times with Peiper and finished the stage in fifth place at six seconds from Peiper. Rolf Gölz won the race with Malcolm Elliot second, Seán Kelly third, Adri Van Der Poel 4th, Martial Gayant 5th, Martin Earley 6th, Peter Winnen 7th, Stephen Roche 8th, Noel Szostek 9th and Robert Millar was 10th. Kelly was beaten for the first time and Roche performed well considering he had been out of action until August with his knee. Adri Van Der Poel was there as always as well as the consistent Martin Earley.