By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Sean Kelly, a name synonymous with Irish Cycling for his exploits on the European Continent for many years is doing the rounds again, but as a director sportif of the Sean Kelly Racing Team. Nothing would please him more than having his name again engraved on a trophy which he won twice over 30 years ago.
In 1974 and 1975 Kelly won the Shay Elliott Memorial, showing his promise in a race named after the man who was an inspiration for the Carrick rider. Kelly went on to a top pro career, taking many of the biggest races in the sport and holding the world number one slot for several years.
The link between two greats of Irish cycling will be rekindled this Sunday. Sean himself is not participating but the team he now oversees, the Sean Kelly – ACLVB M. Donnelly Racing Team, will be in action. The Continental squad is based in Belgium and includes strong young Irish talent plus a number of locals.
Leading the Sean Kelly Racing Team will be Paídi O'Brien, who won a stage last week in the Credit Union Ras Mumhan four day in Kerry. Also included on the entry list are eight former winners of the trophy.
The annual "Elliott" race is being held in Co. Wicklow and departs from the Town Hall in Bray at 10.30. It is promoted by the local cycling club, Bray Wheelers.
Three recent Irish winners are currently competing with Continental Professional and Continental teams abroad. David McCann won the race ten years ago and since he joined the Giant Asia team, his standings have increased dramatically. His name is always touted as a possible winner wherever he participates, and he is expected to be there on Sunday. Navigators Insurance riders David O'Loughlin and Ciarán Power have also been victorious, in 2004 and 1997 respectively, although it is unsure if they will be taking part this time round.
A name that stands out on the list of previous winners is that of Pat McQuaid, who won the trophy back in 1972. Of course, he is now the President of the UCI. His son Andrew is scheduled to start the event and, who knows, with the support of the Sean Kelly Racing Team, history could be in the making. If he came out best, it would be the first father/son combination on the winner's list.
The sponsors of the event, Murphy & Gunn/Newlyn Group are also in with a shout of victory. This year they began backing a Continental level team and while they have yet to shine in overseas races, they showed dominant form in last weekend's Ras Mumhan in Kerry.
Racing gets underway from Bray at 10.30 and with a sprint prime awaiting the riders at Kilpeddar, just 11 kilometres into the 163.5 km race, the speed is likely to be high from the start. At Rathnew, riders come off the N11 and onto a twisting road to Glenealy, then onto Rathdrum, Avoca, Woodenbridge and Arklow.
They then head towards the start of the first real climb of the race, the steep ascent of Old Wicklow Gap, locally known as Croghan. After the prime, the riders will speed on to Aughrim and the undulating run-in towards the foot of the daunting Glenmalure climb, past the Shay Elliott monument at the top. A tricky descent to Laragh follows, after which the riders will climb to Annamoe and make a diversion around the Roundwood Lakes to avoid traffic congestion in the town.
Then it's back onto the undulating roads between Roundwood and Calary towards the high-speed descent of the Long Hill. Once back onto the N11, the riders will have a fast downhill run towards Bray but then turn left and grind up the leg-sapping incline to the finish at Fassaroe Lane.