For most of the 20th century, professional cycling was dominated by riders from the continental strongholds of France, Italy, Belgium and Spain, but in the 1980s two young men from Ireland rose from obscure beginnings to dominate the sport: Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche.
Kelly was quiet, consistent and famously resilient - the dominant classics rider of his era. Roche, by contrast, was a charismatic and mercurial presence, whose unruly talent would carry him to the Triple Crown in 1987 - victories at the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and World Championships - a feat unmatched in the three decades since.
Today, they remain giants of the sport, feted by fans across the world who recall the iconic climbs, sprints and pursuits that secured their legacies. But behind the bikes there lies a bigger drama: an untold story of influences shared, friendships made and broken, and conflict with cycling’s old guard.
This is that story.
Based on new and exclusive interviews with Kelly and Roche themselves, as well their teammates, rivals and confidantes, including Paul Kimmage, Martin Earley, David Walsh and Pat McQuaid, The Ascent is the dramatic and inspiring story of how a generation of Irish cyclists took on the world and won.
’These and a thousand other stories are gathered together in an outstanding new book that chronicles in unsurpassed detail the golden era of Irish cycling. Comprehensively researched and written with panache, The Ascent by Barry Ryan, a cycling journalist from Cork, will remain the definitive account of this amazing story for at least a generation.’ Tommy Conlon, Sunday Independent
Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and other events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is from Glanworth in County Cork.