King Kelly speaks Part I
As the Tour de France gets underway, a host of ex-professionals will be meeting up once more, reminiscing about old times while they check out the current wave of pros. As he has done for several years, Kelly will be on this year's Tour in his role as commentator for Eurosport. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes caught up with him recently to chat about his tips for the race, his impressions of the current pro scene and to reminisce at length about his own career.
Strolling around the Villages du Départ in the morning or heading to the press room after the race, your attention is grabbed by the number of familiar faces. It might take a second to filter out the effects of age and make the connection between Now and Then, how they look versus how they used to be, but being on the Tour provokes countless jolts to the memory. TV commentators, journalists, organisation staff, team managers, car drivers and publicity roles; the list of areas served by former champions is endless and far reaching.
One of the most recognisable faces is that of Sean Kelly, hard man extraordinaire. Over the course of his career he took many of the top prizes in the sport. At the Tour he landed five stage wins; a then-record four points jerseys, plus fourth, fifth seventh and ninth places overall. He took the 1988 Tour of Spain plus a staggering seven consecutive Paris-Nice races, and also won a range of Classics, including Milan San Remo, Paris Roubaix, the Tour of Lombardy and Liège-Bastogne-Liege.
Cyclingnews: Sean, first off what is your opinion of the way Lance Armstrong has been going in the run up to this year's Tour, in particular in the Dauphiné Libéré?
Sean Kelly: I think it is the same as last year...he is just coming into form at the right time. Looking at him in the Dauphiné, it seemed as if things were going perfectly in the right direction. For the Tour, I don't see at the moment who can beat him, unless we get a very good Ullrich.
Of course, Lance needs to arrive in form at just the right time. If he is in top shape early, he always has problems. We saw it a couple of years ago - when he was going very well in the Dauphiné, he had problems in the last week of the Tour. But he came into form at just the right time last year, and he was unbelievable right through the Tour.
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