Sean Kelly-Low Budget Superstar

Sean Kelly on the 1984 Liege-Bastogne-Liege podium
Sean Kelly | Liège-Bastogne-Liège podium | 04.15.1984
Seth Goltzer photo

Because nothing says I’m a penny pinching hardman like winning La Doyenne with shoes held snug with a liberal application of duct tape. I bet if Kelly had his way, he would have figured out some means to nail Look cleats on to the bottom of those shoes for the latter years of his career, that is if the they hadn’t just out-and-out vaporized into leather dust from Kelly’s wear and tear. I’m sure he shed a tear (just one solitary tear…deep in the heart of Flanders while riding alone in the rain so nobody could tell Kelly had a soft side) when they finally gave up the ghost.

And my god…those legs are unreal. Hewn from tens of thousands of miles of primeval suffering, still sporting a healthy layer of Belgian road grime. Kelly could have torched everyone at Liege wearing flip-flops and riding a Huffy.

Comments (14) to “Sean Kelly-Low Budget Superstar”

  1. what about kelly’s other low-budget footwear: the DIY booties (white socks with holes cut out for the cleat)?

  2. those legs… that shot…

    where was it and why is it tattooed in my brain?

    poster at a shop?

    Winning Magazine?

    Thanks for the flashback!

  3. gewilli-
    It was the July, 1984 issue of Winning which reviewed that year’s Spring Classics.

  4. The Kelly-factoid that continues to haunt me is the fact that he had to quit the 1987 Vuelta, while in the lead, with two days to go, because of saddle-sores. If the rest of his career is any indication, these are sores that would have ended the career of a lesser sportsman.

    (Also, it’s shocking to think how very very close Ireland came to sweeping the Grand Tours that year!)

  5. Sebastian,
    The amazing thing is that the night before he retired from the Vuelta (which should still begin in May and overlap the Giro to allow World’s to be in August again, but that’s for another day)
    a surgeon lanced the boil on his bottom and stiched in up. Kelly began the day, stopping only after he couldn’t bear the pain of sitting on a sutured incision.
    Kelly also had to stop the Tour that year, breaking his collarbone. Remember the CBS footage of him riding with it broken, eventually collapsing in tears when he had to stop?

  6. Jason: yeah, didn’t they also try cutting away big chunks of his saddle so that it wouldn’t rub the wound? Yeesh.

  7. I think that was Frankie Andreu.

  8. It couldbe that the duct tape on your man’s shoes could be to hide the “wrong” logo.

  9. he taped his shoes to keep a uniform surface for his toe straps hence better adhesion.

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  14. […] only acceptable anywhere if your first name was Sean and last name was Kelly and you were such a Hardman that anything other than toe clips was a worse sin than interfering with one’s […]

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