Ed Hood is a sad old git who is stuck in the minutia of cycling facts and figures! The trouble is that so am I, maybe even worse! Ed was very excited by the book (Tu vueltas) I sent him with all the details of all La Vuelta a España’s from 1935 to 2008, lots of info for us sado’s.

King Kelly.
King Kelly.

Ed touched on some details earlier, but two specific years caught my eye.

All Scottish cyclist should know about the two years (’85 and ’86) that Robert Millar was second overall and how he was “flicked” by Perico Delgado in 1985, and beaten fair and square by Alvaro Pino (now DS at Xacobeo-Galicia) in 1986.

Those are not the years that I noticed, but ’88 and ’89 are.

1988 was a phenomenal year for riders from Britain and Ireland, especially Sean Kelly. Kelly won overall, which for a rider who was considered a sprinter or Classics-man was a big surprise – unless you look back to the 1977 Vuelta when Freddy Maertens won 13 stages and the overall, Kelly and Maertens were out of the same mould after all; hard-men!

Robert was second in the Vuelta - twice!
Robert was second in the Vuelta - twice!

In 1988 Sean Kelly won two stages, first the 11th stage to Valdezcaray, but more importantly he took the second last, 30 kilometre time trial stage to ColladoVillalba, taking the yellow jersey from Fuerte who had taken the lead from his BH team mate Laudelino Cubino after he had held it for 14 stages.

Sean was also 2nd twice and 3rd on two occasions. What about the others? Malcolm Elliott won stage 17 into Toledo and had a 2nd and a 3rd on other stages. Robert Millar finished 6th overall and was second on the mountainous stage to Andorra and 3rd on the previous stage to Cerler.

The biggest surprise has to be on stage 12 between Logroño and Jaca, the winner was Sean Yates from the lesser known British rider; Deno Davie. Probably the best day of both their cycling careers.

Deano and Sean on their famous escape.
Deano and Sean on their famous escape.

In 1989 Deno Davie and Malcolm Elliott were the only of the above to return to La Vuelta, Davie finished a credible 116th overall, behind winner Pedro Delgado – but Malcolm Elliott was the star, he won two stages, was 2nd twice and 3rd on one occasion and he finished at the end in Madrid with the points jersey overall. And as you probably know, he’s still racing now!

Those two years were maybe not so exciting for us Robert Millar fans, but they were classic years for the “English” speakers.

You could look back to ’68 and ’69 where Michael Wright won two stages in both and finished 5th overall in 1969…but that’s another story!

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Al began racing on the Scottish roads as "wee nipper" of 17 years. This led him to England where he continued racing and began working in a bike shop. A friendly connection through Paul Sherwin landed Alastair a mechanic's job for Raleigh-Banana team, which raced in Holland, Spain, France, Belgium & Britain, and subsequent postings with several teams including BCF, PCA and the F.S.Maestro team; and races including the World Champs, Kellogs Tour, Milk Race, Cuircuit de la Sarthe, Nissan Classic, G.P. Formies, Isgebergs, Wincanton Classic, lots of Belgian semi-classics and kermesses, and many other races he "can't remember"!