Sean Kelly on riding the cobbles: ‘You have to be crazy to win here’ (video)

As the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix approach, Irish legend Sean Kelly explains what it takes to win some of cycling's toughest races
Playlist 19 Videos Sean Kelly on riding the cobbles: 'You have to be crazy to win here' (video) 05:43 Watch: Dwars Door Vlaanderen 2018 highlights 02:48 Watch: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018 highlights 03:02 Pro bike: John Degenkolb's new custom Trek Domane (video) 01:32 Sean Kelly gives you a 360-degree view of the Tour of Britain's best descent (video) 04:03 Relive Geraint Thomas's win at E3 Harelbeke in 2015 (video) 09:54 Watch: Relive Ian Stannard's amazing Het Nieuwsblad win from last year (video) 12:32 Tom Boonen unfazed about being on the brink of cobbled Classic history (video) 03:33 What was Sean Kelly's toughest ever day? (video) 02:03 Show us your scars #27: Sean Kelly (video) 02:41 Watch: Taking on the toughest climbs of the Tour of Flanders 13:52 The Lead Out: April 2019 - Cobbled Classics preview 36:50 The Lead Out: March 2019 - Milan-San Remo preview 34:48 Watch: Tour of Oman 2019 stage two highlights 06:33 Watch: Tour Down Under 2019 stage six highlights 05:38 Watch: Tour Down Under 2019 stage five highlights 00:00 Watch: Tour Down Under 2019 stage two highlights 05:23 Watch: Tour Down Under 2019 stage one highlights 04:49 The Lead Out: January 2019 - Tour Down Under and season preview 25:30

Two wins at Paris-Roubaix, victory in Ghent-Wevelgem and three times a runner-up at the Tour of Flanders, Sean Kelly was considered a king of the Classics and a maestro on the cobbles.

Who better then than the Irishman to talk us through the intricacies of racing on pavé – the warped and potholed stone tracks that litter spring’s biggest races and sometimes make a cameo appearance at the Tour de France.

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Out in the Belgian countryside with the An Post-Chain Reaction team he runs, Kelly takes us down some of the most iconic roads in cycling and explains why the cobbles can be so pivotal.

In this exclusive interview, he recalls the hurt you might feel for days afterwards and discusses the various factors that can amount to the difference between winning and losing in the Northern Classics.

Sean Kelly on the cobbles

What makes a cobbles rider? Where are the difficulties they might face? Where should a rider position themselves on the road? And how would he alter his bike for the pave?

“The cobbled classics are really special because of the danger. There are many crashes,” Kelly says. “But if you’re a rider who rides the cobbles well, then you can enjoy it, because you know you have an advantage over a lot of other riders.”

Kelly points to the physical elements that suit time-triallists — high power output, and enough weight to carry speed across the difficult surface — but he also highlights less tangible mental qualities that mean sprinters often excel on pavé.

“You have to be a bit of a kamikaze rider,” he says. “A lot of riders who win Flanders or Roubaix are a bit crazy on the bike — and sprinters are all crazy.”