At 48, Malcolm Elliot still enjoys racing … in a sense.
By Ben Delaney
Lance Armstrong isn’t the only man racing at the Tour of Ireland who has already retired once from the sport. British rider Malcolm Elliott came back in 2003 at the age of 41, and he doesn’t intend to quit after this season, either.
Elliott turned pro in 1984 with Raleigh-Weinmann. He came to the attention of American cycling fans in 1993 when he joined Chevrolet-LA Sheriffs.
“It’s a totally different scale of what (Armstrong) had already achieved and what he came back to do,” Elliott said. “I had almost six years off as well. But when I came back at the age of 41, initially I was just going to do a few masters races. He said he was going to come back and ride the Tour again and go for an eighth Tour win. We came back with different aspirations from the start. Mine have been much more low-key, but with a longer burn rate, if you like.”
This season Elliott and his Candi TV squad have been doing mainly U.K. races. The team’s season culminates in the Tour of Ireland and the Tour of Britain, September 12-19. Candi TV rider Russell Downing won stage 1 and currently holds the leader’s jersey.
“The Tour of Ireland is not just a level but a couple or three levels higher than what we’ve been riding so far this year,” Elliott said.
Elliott is no stranger to racing in Ireland, having done the Nissan Classic from 1984 through 1988. “I got second overall here one year,” he said. “I won three stages another year. It was a great race. I never crossed swords with Lance at that one.”
Armstrong did the Nissan Classic in 1992. That year Elliott and Armstrong raced the Tour of Galicia, where the Texan won his first stage of a European pro race. Elliott was second.
“Obviously over the years we crossed paths in the States. I was riding for Chevy then, and he’d come over with Motorola,” he said.
Staring down the barrel of two UCI 2.1 stage races, Elliott said “enjoyment” might not be the first word he’d use to describe how he feels during a race these days, “but I still enjoy being involved. To be part of it is still a special feeling.”