10 Famous Irish Cyclists: A Quick Look At Bike-Riding Legends

Famous Irish cyclists

With such stunning sights, it’s no surprise cycling is a popular sport in Ireland; if you’re looking for motivation, let’s check out famous Irish cyclists.

Ireland, a country known for its rich history and beautiful landscapes, has also produced some truly outstanding cyclists. Over the years, several Irish athletes have made their mark on the world of professional cycling, achieving tremendous success and garnering fans across the globe. In this article, we will explore the careers of some of Ireland’s most famous cyclists, delving into their accomplishments and the impact they’ve had on the sport.

From ruling the cycling scene in the 1980s to emerging talents taking the world by storm today, these Irish athletes have shown exceptional skill, determination, and passion for cycling. Among them, standout names like Sean Kelly and Dan Martin have proven their prowess in various races and events. Every inspiring story behind each cyclist demonstrates the country’s unwavering dedication to the sport.

As we delve into the lives of these incredible Irish cyclists, we’ll uncover their highs and lows. Stay tuned to discover more about these fascinating individuals. You might also be interested in our round-up of famous track cyclists

Famous Irish Cyclists

1. Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly
He won multiple stages and claimed the green jersey in the Tour de France

Sean Kelly is arguably the most famous Irish cyclist of all time. He dominated road cycling throughout the 1980s and is considered one of the greatest classic riders in history. Some of his notable achievements include:

  • Seven consecutive victories at the Paris-Nice from 1982 to 1988
  • Four victories at the Liège-Bastogne-Liège race
  • Two wins at the Paris-Roubaix, a race known for its brutal cobblestone sections

Kelly was also a skilled sprinter, which allowed him to compete in Grand Tours, where he won multiple stages and claimed the green jersey in the Tour de France.

2. Stephen Roche

Another exceptional cyclist from Ireland is Stephen Roche. He achieved a rare Triple Crown in 1987, winning:

  • The Giro d’Italia
  • The Tour de France
  • The World Road Race Championship

Roche’s triumph was particularly impressive as he became the second cyclist in history and the first Irishman to achieve this remarkable feat. He is still one of only two riders ever to do so, with Eddy Merckx being the other.

Although doping allegations were made against him, Roche maintains his innocence, and his previous wins still stand. 

3. Louise Moriarty

Lousie Moriarty is a retired cyclist from Dublin. The highlights of her career include winning the Irish National Time Trial Championships twice, in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, she won the 500 meters, points race, scratch race, and pursuit and the Irish National Track Championships

4. Dan Martin

In more recent years, Dan Martin has emerged as a strong Irish contender in the world of cycling. Known for his climbing ability, he has delivered impressive performances in both single-day races and stage races, including two stage wins in the Tour de France. Some of his other notable wins are:

  • Junior Tour of Wales in 2004
  • Tour des Pays de Savoie in 2007
  • Tour de Pologne in 2010
  • Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2013

5. Nicolas Roche

The son of the legendary Stephen Roche, Nicolas has carved a successful career of his own in the professional cycling world. The younger Roche has displayed consistent performances in stage races and has participated in all three Grand Tours. A highlight of his career is securing the leader’s red jersey during the 2019 Vuelta a España.

6. Philip Deignan

Philip Deignan
Deignan came first overall at the 2004 Ronde de l’Isard and the 2013 Tour of the Gila

Philip Deignan, another notable Irish cyclist, has made his mark on the professional scene, primarily serving as a reliable domestique for his teams throughout his career. One of his major individual accomplishments came in 2009 when he won a stage of the Vuelta a España and finished 9th overall.

Deignan came first overall at the 2004 Ronde de l’Isard and the 2013 Tour of the Gila. He also won the Tour du Doubs in 2005.

7. Eimear Moran

Eimear Moran
She claimed four gold medals at the National Track Championships in 2016

Eimear Moran’s athletic journey began with rowing. She represented Ireland in the World Junior Championships twice and came first in the junior doubles at the Irish national championships.

By 2015, she had moved into the cycling world. Her career got off to a stellar start after she claimed four gold medals at the National Track Championships in 2016.

8. Martyn Irvine 

Martyn Irvine is a retired cyclist who represented Ireland at the 2012 Olympic Games, where he placed thirteenth in the omnium. Other notable career highlights include:

  • Winner of the 2009 Tour of the North
  • First place in the 2010 & 2011 National Criterium Championships
  • Wins in the kilo, individual pursuit, and scratch at the 2011 National Championships
  • First place in the scratch race at the 2013 UCI Track World Championships

9. Alo Donegan

Nicknamed “The Godfather of Irish Cycling,” Alo Donegan’s legacy still inspires up-and-coming Irish cyclists today. Donegan famously broke the hour in the 25-mile time trial in 1934. The feat was seen as an unofficial world record at the time. During his career, he also became a world record holder for the 50-mile time trial. 

10. Morris Foster

Morris Foster is another Irish cycling legend. The late athlete, who died in 2020, became the first Irish cyclist and the fourth cyclist overall to ride 100 miles in less than four hours when he participated in the Bath Road 100 Mile Time Trial in the 1960s. 

Affectionately called “Big Mo,” the Northern Irish cyclist also represented Ireland in the 1968 Summer Olympics. If you liked this post, you might also be interested in our round-up of famous Ironman triathletes.  

This article was researched with the help of OpenAI and fact-checked and edited by our human editor.