TalkingShop with the legend that is – Sean Kelly

VeloUK talks to Sean Kelly about his UCI team and the British designed bikes from Terry Dolan they have chosen for their riders

Larry Hickmott writes… Last Thursday I found myself in a car with a legendary designer of bikes, Terry Dolan, and then within ten minutes of being at the AN Post team launch, I was interviewing a living legend in cycling, Sean Kelly.

Sean Kelly & Terry Dolan — two legends from different spheres of the sport.

193 professional race victories; Tour de France Stage winner (x 5); Tour de France Green Jersey 4 times; Tour of Spain Winner & Points winner; Paris-Nice — 7 time winner in a row; Twice third in the Road Worlds; Milan San Remo x 2; Paris Roubaix x 2; Leige Bastogne Leige x 2; Giro de Lombardia x 3; Gent Wevelgem; GP Nations and lots more major wins

Sean was certainly kept busy throughout the day so I’m glad I managed to sneak ten minutes with him before the launch to talk bikes and the team. After that there was TV, written journalists, radio and phone interviews. And all the way through it, Sean was polite, calm and happy to talk to who ever was interested in talking to him.

The reason for being there was to ask him about the bikes. We have a British WorldTour team and we have six UCI Conti teams but Britain can also be proud of the bikes that are designed by Terry Dolan and used by the Belgian registered UCI team of Sean Kelly.

The Dolan Ares was first used by Sean’s team in 2011 and they are again in 2012 supplying the bike equipped with 3T and SRAM Red minus wheels to the team. Sean explained that the Dolan brand has long been seen on the roads of Ireland and so Sean has been aware of it for a long time. The Irish legend has also go to know Terry over the years when they’ve met at major events like the World Championships but it wasn’t until Sean decided to use Terry’s bikes, that they go to know each other better.

Asked how he came to use the Dolan bike, Sean replied “Prior to last season, we had a number of bike suppliers who were interested in the team at the end of 2010 and one them was Terry. We checked out Terry’s bikes here in Belgium and found they were good bikes. We then had them checked by a mechanic here that we use and he too found they were good bikes so the big test was last year in the races.”

“We were very very happy with the bike. It proved to be very reliable, very rigid and a solid bike. Pretty light but not the lightest. It is a light bike though and that is all we need. We’re not doing races where there are big mountain stages like in the Tour de France, so for us, we’re very happy with the performance of the bike.”

The Dolan Ares – great bike at great value — see for yourself by clicking here!

Asked if Belgium was a tough place for a bike, Sean replied “Belgium roads are certainly the best testing roads for a bike frame, components and wheels because you have the cobble stones and the concrete roads; they are very hard roads on materials and if they can stand up to those roads, then they are good bike. You don’t need the super lightweight bike in Belgium because the racing is flat and it’s more important the bike is strong and that’s the reason we have continued with the Dolan.”

A few weeks ago we saw Andy Fenn win two stages in Challenge Majorca and we also saw Matt Brammeier working hard for his WorldTour team in Qatar. Both are former riders in the Sean Kelly team.

When asked did he feel pleased with his team for the job they have done for these riders and others, Sean replied “we have helped quite a few riders over the years and that is the objective. With Andy, it was the really the second half of last year that we got to know him and he got to know the team and working together is when we got the best results out of him.”

“It would have been good to have had him on the team for another year because we could have got some great results with him. But that is part of the job of the team, to help them move on. I think the UCI have to do something with UCI Conti teams where if we put a guy into a WorldTour team, there should be some compensation for those of us who have looked after him. I don’t think that would be too much of an ask for the WorldTour teams.”

Terry Dolan talks to the British lads in the team, many of whom he has supported with bikes over the years like Mark McNally.

Sean then said a lot of the credit for the riders not only selected to ride for AnPost but their improvement within the team is down to Kurt Bogaerts who is manager, director sportif, mechanic and a lot more. That is one difference between Team Sky and teams of that ilk and teams like this. The budget of a UCI Conti team goes more into the racing and not staff and so it can be hard for the likes of Kurt and the other staff just as it can be for the riders.

“It is a challenge running a team” Sean says. “I’m the general manager so my input into the team is not full time. My job is more about getting the sponsors at the end of the year while Kurt is the one running the team and doing the work with the riders. He decides which riders to take because he’s at the races and he’s sees them at work. He’s keen and loves his job. “

“Going forwards, if things work out and we can get more sponsorship, then of course, we’d like to move on to being a Continental Pro team. We’d not say no to that!”

Sean Kelly winning a stage of the Milk Race in 1976. Photo: John Pierce/PhotoSport International UK USA Asia

Finally, the team began life with the aim of developing Irish riders but a look at the roster of eighteen riders, and there are only five Irish riders. Like Britain, Sean says that’s down to the lack of depth in Ireland at the moment.

“We have five riders from Ireland, but there are not hundreds out there capable of riding for the team otherwise we would have more of them riding for us. So we take the ones we think have the potential and who are capable and deserve being in the team. We can then see what they can do and hopefully move them on to a bigger team.”

Sean’s team is certainly quite different to many other UCI Conti teams in that respect and looking at the riders from lots of countries as they came on stage to introduce themselves at the launch, I was taken aback by how young they were.

Even the British Academy riders seemed ‘old’ compared to many of the youngsters that AnPost Sean Kelly have signed. Sean though says that in the next 12 months and two years, the opportunity is there for these riders to step up and to try and fulfil their potential just as Andy Fenn did in 2011.

And, they will be doing that on a British designed bike, the Dolan Ares.

Team Video with Kelly Interview

The AnPost-Sean Kelly Team Bike – Dolan Ares

 

The above bike has a special paint job for the Irish Under 23 Champion in the team, Sam Bennett


Buying a Bike

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