Sean Kelly knows a thing or two about the classics.
With no less than nine victories in the monuments of the sport, including three wins at the Tour of Lombardy and two each at Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Milan-San Remo — not to mention other victories in races like Ghent-Wevelgem and Paris-Tours that he doesn’t really count because they are only semi-classics — the teak-tough Irishman is not known as the ‘King of the Classics’ for nothing.
Now 55, Kelly still looks like a guy you wouldn’t want to rub shoulders with on a section of cobbles and is very much up to date with the current crop of riders thanks to his television commentary role at Eurosport each year.
Having watched Milan-San Remo from a studio in London, Kelly admits he was slightly surprised by the winner, Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge). “For a rider like that, who is an outsider really, to win Milan-San Remo was a great ride,” he says. “If you went through the list, you could probably pick out 10 riders. After that, you could pick out another 10 and Simon Gerrans would probably have come into that bracket. Gerrans is that type of rider though. When he’s in good shape and he gets things right, he can be really good. And on the Poggio he was really good. When Nibali attacked he reacted immediately and that is the way to do it.”