The 1991 Nissan International Classic

The paper reads that domestic interest in the sport was declining as were the fortunes of the two Irish stars that had made the event possible. Seán Kelly had that season a broken collarbone and then during the Tour de France, he and his team had to withdraw due to a food poisoning fiasco. Stephen Roche had missed the start of the team time trial on the first day of the Tour de France and subsequently missed the time limit on the stage. His brother Laurence Roche had ridden the Tour to the finish in Paris and was to ride the Nissan Classic. Martin Earley was also riding. Other stars included Phil Anderson, Maurizio Fondriest and Irish road race champion Paul Slane and Declan Loregan.

Stage 1:Dublin to Kilkenny

Johnny Talen took the yellow jersey after winning seconds in the intermediate sprints. The final sprint was won by Eric Vanderaerden ahead of Johann Museeuw and Laurent Jalabert, Phil Anderson and Johnny Talen.

Stage 2:Kilkenny to Galway

The headline of the second stage report read “Roche sets blistering pace but stage honours go to Ludwig”. Olaf Ludwig won into Galway ahead of Museeuw, Van der Poel, Rolf Aldag, Jalabert and Tristan Hoffman.
Roche attacked on the ascent of the Slieve Bloom Mountains. He had an advantage of one minute as he went over the summit and this built up to five minutes and 47 seconds as he led the race for 75 miles. Forging on through Portumna, he fought a tough wind and by Taylor’s Hill in Galway he was caught. Afterwards he said “I’m very happy. I feel that I have my legs back.” Roche finished the day fourth overall.Olaf Ludwig won the stage in a photo finish over Museeuw. Paul Slane led the chase behind Roche over the Slieve Blooms, gaining the points to retain his King of the Mountains jersey.

Stage 3:Galway to Limerick

The following day, Museeuw took the lead after the stage. He stuck with the pace through the draining attacks on Corkscrew hill and Gallow hill and then won the bunch sprint to the line in Limerick. He won over Vanderaerden, Ludwig, Talen, Phil Anderson, Santamaria and Kelly. Slane still led the King of the mountains competition. Kelly won the first hot spot sprint. Roche was still fourth overall.

Stage 4:Limerick to Cork

The climax of the race came again on the stage to Cork with the ascents of St. Patricks Hill in the finale of the stage. Seán Kelly broke away with Seán Yates outside Fermoy. The two worked together going into Cork and then on the finishing circuits. Yates won the stage and Kelly took the yellow jersey with a very slender gap over Yates.

Stage 5:to Dublin

On the final stage, Kelly won the four second sprint prime at Deansgrange and later sprints were not contested by Kelly or Yates. Olaf Ludwig won the final stage into Dublin with Museeuw second and Rolf Aldag third.

“Yesterday (Saturday’s stage to Cork) was the rendez vous stage if you like” Kelly said “and I was able with Yates to pull away from the pack and keep ahead over St Patrick’s Hill.” In doing so Kelly won his fourth Nissan Classic ahead of Seán Yates with Johan Museeuw third. Adri Van Der Poel was 4th, Eric Van Lancker 5th, Dag-Otto Lauritzen 6th, Udo Bolts 7th, Raul Alcala 8th, Viatcheslav Ekimov 9th and Martin Earley was 10th. It was written in the Irish Times that Kelly had revived his spirits and season with the win. The 1991 season was a tough one for Kelly who broke his collarbone early on, then had to withdraw from the Tour de France and then his older brother Joseph was killed in a tragic accident during a cycle race at home near Carrick when he was hit by a car. Kelly's team PDM were pulling from the sport and with the win Kelly was hoping to have more leverage for finding a new contract. Kelly kept that form and a week later he would win the Tour of Lombardy classic.