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Video: Irish ex-pro McCormack talks racing and fast living in 1980s USA

Posted on: December 30th, 2018

irish cyclist alan mccormack

When Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche were setting the European scene on fire, Irish cyclist Alan McCormack was king of the big time in the USA.

 

Irish cyclist Alan McCormack on living large as a US-based 1980s pro

 

The video below features former Irish pro cyclist Alan McCormack in a fantastic profile by The Pro’s Closet.

The Dubliner enjoyed a very strong career in Ireland before moving to the UK to race there in the 1970s.

McCormack was born into cycling. His father JJ was a former Irish international, founder of the Junior Tour and a legend of the Irish scene.

Alan’s younger brother Paul would also go on to achieve considerable success, including winning the Rás twice.

The elder brother showed great promise as a teenager. He won, amongst other races, the National Championships, the Shay Elliott Memorial and stages of the Tour of Ireland.

Seán Kelly would even later acknowledge: “Alan had more talent than I did.”

In 1977, he signed for the Carlton-Weinmann team in the UK. The following year, Alan McCormack signed for the Old Lords-Splendor team in Belgium.

Aged 21 years, he rode the Vuelta in 1978 before moving to the US, where he raced for over a decade.

Initially a young Irish cyclist new to the States, Alan McCormack became one of the biggest names. He was nicknamed ‘The Leprechaun’….

In that period American riders were just starting to make their name in Europe. The US domestic racing circuit was booming.

The video below contains a fantastic interview with Alan McCormack.

It covers everything from a review of his old racing bike to a pacey profile of his racing career in the US with plenty of classic footage.

As well as his success as a pro, McCormack also represented Ireland many times.

He was on the national team in 1987 at the World Championships, where he helped Stephen Roche to victory.

He also rode the Olympics, gaining selection as a 19-year-old in 1976.

 


Video Profile: Alan McCormack


 

Riding for Splendor in Belgium; McCormarck is the smaller figure sixth from left in the back row.

The brothers riding for the Killian’s Red Irish Team in the US in the 1980s.

A publicity shot from back in the day that shows just how big McCormack got and how lucrative his career became. This was a US advert for Bollé sunglasses. As poster boys the company hired McCormack, right, Ron Kiefel, centre, and Roy Knickman, left. Jeff Pierce was also in the campaign but is not in this shot. Kiefel was the first American to win a stage of a Grand Tour – stage 15 of the 1985 Giro. He won Olympic bronze in LA in 1984, rode the Tour seven times and was US road race champion twice. His first title came in 1983 when he also won the national TT title and the team TT. Knickman rode for La Vie Clare, Toshiba Look and 7 Eleven. He rode the Tour twice and won an Olympic bronze with Kiefel in the TTT in LA. Pierce was another top pro, winning the final stage of the 1987 Tour; just one victory in a huge career.

 

He may have been “the other Irish man” and in the shadows of Kelly and Roche. But McCormack did very well from his US career.

McCormack reckons his picture was on around 18 million boxes of Wheaties breakfast cereal; said it was a very good chat up line.

Still living in the US, the Dubliner is getting out on his bike despite his racing days having ended.

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