Jim Devereux recalls how Irish cyclist Stephen Roche won the Tour de France thirty years ago.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most remarkable ever individual sporting achievements by an Irishman. In 1987 Stephen Roche became the first and, to date, only Irish cyclist to win the greatest cycling race in the world, the Tour de France. Even more notable was the fact that winning Le Tour was just one part of the historic cycling Triple Crown of victories Roche accomplished in that year as he also led home the Giro d’Italia and the World Road Race Cycling Championships.
Roche was born in Dundrum, Dublin in 1959. He had a very successful amateur career and as a member of the Orwell Wheelers club based in Dundrum he won the Irish Junior Cycling Championships in 1977. He then moved to Paris to further his career and won the prestigious amateur Paris–Roubaix one day cycle race. As an amateur Roche also represented Ireland in the 1980 Olympics held in Moscow.
In his debut season as a professional in 1981 Roche won the Tour of Corsica and the Paris-Nice race. Over the following years, Roche continued his upward progression finishing 25th in the 1984 Tour de France and securing a third-place podium spot the following year. In 1986, in his first season with the Carrera Team, Roche suffered a serious knee injury after a crash. The injury ended Roche’s season and would affect him for the rest of his career.
The 1987 season began well for Roche when he won the Volta a la Comunitat Valencianna event in Valencia, Spain. He was also successful in the Tour de Romandie for the third time and was runner up in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege.