In history of the Vitus marque, the name of one rider dominates – that of Seán Kelly, known to many as “The King” and regarded as the finest Classics rider of all time.
Some 80% of Kelly's 193 professional victories, which included a record eight Paris-Nice wins, were achieved astride a bike bearing the Vitus badge. Notable among them was the iconic 979, ridden with distinction by Kelly in many Tours de France.
Today Kelly proudly represents Vitus as brand ambassador, providing valuable insight and input into the development of our top-end road bikes.
Kelly rose to prominence in the 1980s, for many the glory days of professional cycle racing, when icons of the sport such as Eddie Merckx, Greg LeMond, Laurent Fignon, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain and an emerging Lance Armstrong did battle in the European classics and Grand Tours.
Kelly's achievements belie his humble beginnings. Born in Co Waterford in 1956 to a modest farming background, he had seemed destined to a life of manual labour before discovering cycling in his early teens, a pursuit for which he soon found an affinity few could match.
Achieving prominence at home as an amateur, Kelly turned professional at the age of 18 and found his talents in demand in Europe, where he was to spend much of his professional life. His early career saw Kelly earn a reputation as a formidable sprinter, but by the time he won his first Paris-Nice in 1982 he had developed into an all-rounder – fearsome in the sprint and fearless in the descent but with the stamina and climbing prowess needed to win stage races.
Notable achievements followed, including;
The “Maillot Vert” (Green Jersey) for best sprinter in the Tour de France –
an honour he was to hold four times in total 1982/1983/1985/1989
Seven consecutive Paris-Nice wins (1982 – 1988)
Paris-Roubaix (1984, 1986)
Milan-San Remo (1986, 1992)
Giro di Lombardia (1983, 1985, 1991).
Vuelta av España (1998)
Retired from professional cycling since 1994, Kelly nonetheless remains hugely involved in the sport, from his work as a TV commentator for Eurosport and establishment of the Sean Kelly Racing Academy and An Post – Chain Reaction Professional Race Team.
A true hero to countless cycling fans around the world, Kelly is also rightly regarded as one of the greatest sportsmen to ever come from Ireland.