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Cycling – 1987 – NBCs Bill Macatee Showcases Tour De France In Review – Featuring IRE Stephen Roche


This video excerpt is from an NBC production that provided a highlights review of the year in sports in 1987…..which was hosted by Bill Macatee….as this was his segment on cycling in 1987…..which featured the outstanding season had by Ireland’s Stephen Roche

Stephen Roche (born 28 November 1959) is an Irish former professional road racing cyclist….who in a 13-year professional career peaked in 1987….becoming the 2nd of only two cyclists to win the Triple Crown of victories in the Tour de France….and the Giro d’Italia stage races….plus the World road race championship….whereas the first was Eddy Merckx.  Roche’s rise coincided with that of fellow Irishman Sean Kelly….and although one of the finest cyclists of his generation….and admired for his pedaling style….he struggled with knee injuries and never contended in the Grand Tours post-1987.  He had 58 professional career wins. 

In 1987, Roche had a tremendous season….while winning the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana….then taking a third victory in the Tour de Romandie….plus a stage win in Paris–Nice.  He also finished second in Liège–Bastogne–Liège….which was the closest he got to winning a professional Monument’ Classic…. while blaming it on tactical naiveté and “riding like an amateur”.  

Following Bernard Hinault‘s retirement….along with Laurent Fignon’s choppy form…..and with Greg LeMond injured following an accidental shooting while hunting….the 1987 Tour du France was wide open. It was also one of the most mountainous tours since the war….with 25 stages in the mountains.  Roche won the 87.5 km (54.4 mi) individual time trial stage 10 to Futuroscope….and came second on stage 19.  On the next stage, crossing the Galibier and Madeleine and finishing at La Plagne….Roche attacked early….and was away for several hours….but was caught on the last climb….that is when his nearest rival Pedro Delgado attacked.  and despite being almost one-and-a-half minutes in arrears midway up the last climb….Roche pulled the deficit back to 4 seconds…..after which Roche collapsed and lost consciousness and was given oxygen.  When asked when revived if he was okay, he replied “Oui, mais pas de femme toute de suite”….which means “yes, but I am not ready for a woman straight away”.  The yellow jersey worn by the leader of the general classification….changed hands several times with Charly Mottet, Roche, Jean François Bernard and Delgado all wearing it before Roche used the final 35 km (22 mi) time trial to overturn a half-minute gap….and thus win the Tour by 40 seconds….which was at the time the second-narrowest margin behind Jan Janssen beating Herman Van Springel by 38 seconds in 1969….and two years after Roche’s victory….USA Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon by 8 seconds to win. Roche became only the fifth cyclist in history to win the Tour and the Giro in the same year. He was also the only Irishman to win the Tour de France. 

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