Cycling icon Sean Kelly given lifetime achievement award at Cycling Weekly Awards 2019

The Irish star is a hero of the sport both on and off the bike

Sean Kelly has been one of the biggest icons in professional cycling for decades.

The Irishman’s pro racing career spanned almost 20 years and saw him take countless major victories, including multiple Monuments, seven Paris-Nice titles and the 1988 Vuelta a España.

Since his retirement, Kelly has been a stalwart of cycling broadcasting and will be the voice of the Classics for many fans thanks his on-going commentary work with Eurosport.

Cycling Weekly is proud to honour Kelly for his lifetime achievement, in association with  BikeZaar.

Now 63, Kelly attended the Cycling Weekly Awards 2019 in association with Garmin in central London on Thursday night (November 28) to receive the accolade from CW editor Simon Richardson.

Richardson said: “To get to the top of the sport, he didn’t just overcome barriers, he smashed through them, taking the European scene by storm and cementing his reputation as ‘the King’.”

Kelly said: “It’s great to get recognition - it’s better to get it earlier than too late, at least I can enjoy it. I’m honoured to be chosen for it.

“Hopefully I can cherish it for hopefully many years to come.”

Born in Country Waterford, Kelly started riding in his teens and his talent was obvious immediately.

His pro career, spanning from 1977 until his retirement in 1994 saw him become a Classics rider of legendary standing, with two Paris-Roubaix titles to his name, as well as two editions of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, two Milan-San Remo and three crowns in the Giro di Lombardia.

But Kelly’s talents took him beyond one-day success as he became an outstanding stage racer, winning every edition of Paris-Nice between 1982 and 1988, as well as the Vuelta a España title among other notable results.

After retirement, he remained involved in cycling as a commentator as well as a team boss, setting up the An Post-Chain Reaction team in 2006.

Kelly’s contribution to the sport was acknowledged on Thursday night at the Cycling Weekly Awards in association with Garmin.

The ceremony was held at the prestigious 8 Northumberland Avenue and saw figures from across the world of cycling praised for their exploits.

Alex Ballinger
Alex Ballinger

Alex is the digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.

Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. 

Away from journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.