Ireland had never really been a cycling nation until, in the 1980s, two Irishmen succeeded in making a powerful impression. Country boy Sean Kelly and Dubliner Stephen Roche suddenly managed to put the Emerald Isle on the map. And how! Roche revived memories of Eddy Merckx by winning the Giro, Tour de France and World Championships all in the same year, 1987. But that improbable holy trinity was by no means a foretaste of a Merckx-style record. Knee problems prevented Roche from showing off his world championship jersey very much in 1988. It was slim pickings afterwards as well, apart from one or two standouts. Roche scored another victory in the 1989 Tour of the Basque Country. He waited until the last stage to strike. In the fishing village of Zumaya, the race ended with a very short climbing time trial but 3.8 kilometres was enough for Stephen Roche to win the stage and overtake his opponents in the general classification.