Stephen Roche’s 1987 Triple Crown

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, and because we’ve been feeling a throwback vibe lately, we’re going to dedicate this post to retired Irish pro cyclist Stephen Roche and his magnificent 1987 season.  In this magical year, Roche won the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and finally the World Championships to become only the second ever cyclist to complete this remarkable trifecta (sorry, no points for guessing that Eddy Merckx was the only other Triple Crown winner)!

Roche’s run started with the Giro d’Italia, where he won 3 stages but had to out ride his own teammate, Roberto Visentini, to win back the maglia rosa and take the title:

Roche Giro 1987

Giro 1987: Stephen Roche. Photo: Offside/L’Equipe

Exhausted but elated to be the first Giro winner from outside mainland Europe, Roche was the narrow favorite to win the Tour de France.  Roche won the individual time trial (one of his specialties) on stage 10, but later in the race almost committed an epic blunder on a mountainous stage 20, which crossed the famous peaks of the Galibier and the Madeleine before finishing at La Plagne.  Roche attacked early and was in a breakaway for hours, but on the final climb he was caught and gapped by his biggest rival, Pedro Delgado.  At one point in the climb, Delgado established a 1 minute 30 second lead over Roche, but the tenacious Irishman clawed his way back to only lose 4 seconds on the day.  Roche then went on to win the final 35km time trial, making up a 30 second deficit to Delgado, to take the final maillot jaune by 40 seconds and become the first Irish Tour de France champion. Read more of this post

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