With all the talk of Oleg Tinkoff’s million euro offer to the four leading grand tour riders to compete in all three grand tours in 2015, it’s a good moment to remember the last time a ‘triple’ was completed.
Of course, no rider has ever won the Giro, Tour de France and Vuelta in a single season. No doubt Eddy Merckx would have, if it had been possible during his career. But back then, the Vuelta was at the start of the season and over-lapped with the Giro – so it simply wasn’t logistically possible to ride all three.
The real-triple in cycling has always been winning the Giro, Tour and World Championships in a single season. Only two riders have ever done it – Eddy Merckx in 1974 and Stephen Roche in 1987.
Forget Lemond v Hinault at the 1986 Tour, the in team fighting between Roche and Italian teammate Robeto Visentini was a far more poisonous affair. The Italian fans (the Tifosi) weren’t happy either, making riding so dangerous for Roche (he was left with only one team-mate) that it needed Scotlands Robert Millar and Roche teammate Eddy Schepers to ride either side of Roche to protect him from attack. You can read the full story here. http://redkiteprayer.com/2012/06/the-story-of-the-1987-giro-ditalia/
1987 Tour de France
Probably cycling’s equivalent of Kenneth Wolstenholme’s “They think it is all over, it is now” came in the 1987 stage to La Plagne. With arch rival Pedro Delgado up the road, Roche is no-where to be seen and his chances of the win are over, but hang on – who’s that appearing through the fog? “That looks like Stephen Roche – IT IS Stephen Roche”
Watch from 2 minutes in here.
1987 World Championships
Sean Kelly was a hot favourite for the rainbow jersey in 1987. He couldn’t have been happier as he rolled over the line in fifth place though, as his countryman Stephen Roche had shortly before ghosted through a gap from the small leading group to cross the line a few seconds ahead – and claim the historic triple crown.