The fifth edition of the Nissan International Classic

1989 Nissan Classic

Coming into the fifth edition of the event, the main criticism that was written about in the paper was the way the peloton rolled at a sedate pace and that the racing only really begun in the latter hour. The chief reason for this, it was thought, was that the stages were too long at that stage in the season. In the 1989 edition the distances were reduced. The stars coming to the event that year were Charly Mottet, Steve Bauer, Erik Breukink, Marino Lejarretta (winner of the Tour of Spain of 1982). The Dutch PDM team of Seán Kelly had Raúl Alcalá, Jorg Muller, Rudi Dhenens and Martin Earley. Other stars included Jelle Nijdam, Andy Hampsten, Robert Millar and Adri Van Der Poel. Kelly said he was out to win and would be chasing the bonus seconds along the way. Stephen Roche had been out of action for six weeks after dropping out of the Tour de France. In the three weeks before the Nissan Classic, he had raced and the previous Sunday he had earned a combativity award in a race in Bordeaux.

Stage 1: Dublin to Dundalk

The bunch rolled along during the first stage except for the bonus sprint and hill primes where the pace increased. Kelly was first up a category climb at long woman’s grove. Dag Otto Lauritzen attacked and built up a 25 second lead but was reeled back near Dundalk. Jelle Nijdam won the bunch sprint ahead of Kelly and Moreels and took the yellow jersey. Kelly took the green jersey.

Stage 2:to Limerick

The second stage took the peloton to Limerick where there was a bunch sprint. Etienne de Wilde raised his hands too soon and Eric Vanderaerden pipped him on the line but it took a while before the verdict was reached. At first de Wilde was awarded the stage win and Nijdam kept the yellow jersey but when Vanderaerden was awarded the win and then after the chief judge examined film from a bunch sprint in Roscrea earlier on in the day in which Vanderaerden had won bonus seconds, Vanderaerden was then awarded the yellow jersey too. Kelly became the leader of the king of the mountains competition.

Stage 3:to Cork

The third stage went from Shannon to Cork. On the climb after Millstreet a group of 49 pulled away and those left behind were out of the race for the overall. Nijdam was one of the losers and would finish the day 13 minutes behind. In the bonus sprint in Millstreet, Kelly was third in the sprint. On the third category hill, Kelly was second over the hill with Gary Baker. The two were then level on points in the King of the Mountains competition. After that Kelly’s chain came off and he had to dismount to fix it. Then on the first category Kerryman’s Table, Kelly was among those who fell. “I was bumped by one of the Germans and my brake lever caught in Martin Earley’s shorts and I went down.” With his left elbow grazed, he remounted and he had missed the opportunity to gain the points over the hill.
Robert Millar and Andy Hampsten were first over the top and were joined by Benny van Itterbeeck. The three had a 48 second lead entering the circuit of Cork. But these were pulled back. In the bunch sprint that ensured Kelly tried mightily to get back to Vanderaerden as they sprinted for the line but could not make it and then lost his second place. Vanderaerden won the stage and extended his lead overall.

Stage 4:Cork to Kilkenny, stage 4A: Kilkenny to Carlow, Stage 5:to Dublin

The next stage went from Cork to Kilkenny where there was a bunch sprint that Eric Vanderaerden won. In the afternoon there was a second stage a time trial from Kilkenny to Carlow. Vanderaerden wearing the race leader’s jersey started in last position. Seán Kelly was sitting second overall and started just ahead of him but to Kelly’s amazement, Vanderaerden caught Kelly with 7 miles to go. Vanderaerden won the time trial with Kelly in fifth. Charly Mottet was second in the time trial and Thomas Wegmuller 3rd. Roche had a disappointing time trial. Earley started a minute behind him and caught Roche. Earley finished 13th in the time trial with Roche 29th. This was Roche’s last race of the season. In the final stage Vanderaerden finished 7th on the stage which was won by Phil Anderson ahead of Soeren Lilhout.

Eric Vanderaerden dominated the race with four consecutive stage wins. Charly Mottet finished second. Thomas Wegmuller 3rd,Seán Kelly 4th, Johan Museeuw 5th, Brian Walton 6th, Erik Breukink 7th, Ron Kiefel 8th, Benjamin Van Itterbeeck 9th and Dag-Otto Lauritzen was 10th.