26. The Vuelta past and present with Sean Kelly
September 2 | Joining the Telegraph Cycling Podcast this week is Sean Kelly, the Irish legend who is currently commentating on the Vuelta a Espana for British Eurosport.
With Richard Moore and Lionel Birnie, Kelly – a former Vuelta winner – discusses this year’s Spanish tour as it approaches the half-way point. The powerful Dutchman Tom Dumoulin was in the red jersey of race leader at the time of speaking. Butt the specialist climbers were clustered behind him, including the top three at the recent Tour de France: Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana and his Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde. Froome also has strong team support in the shape of fellow Sky rider Nicholas Roche. It is an open race, with the top ten all within two minutes of Dumoulin.
They also discuss the latest talking point in a race full of controversial incidents, with Peter Sagan knocked off by an official motorbike. Sagan was furious and earned a fine for his reaction. With the injuries suffered in the fall, he also had to withdraw from the race. Kelly tells us that he agreed with the fine, saying that Sagan’s reaction had to be punished, just as Vincenzo Nibali had to be sent home for holding on to his team car in the opening days.
Kelly also looks back at some of the notable Vueltas of his own career – including the heartbreak of having to retire in 1987 within sight of victory thanks to, as he put it, “a sore bottom.” He returned the following year with unfinished business in mind and duly became the first – and to date only – Irishman ever to win the Vuelta.