By Graham Healy

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad takes place this weekend, and back in 1959, Shay Elliott became the first ever foreign winner of the race, which was then known as Het Volk.

The previous year, the Dubliner had shown his ability in classics, when he came close to victory in both Paris Roubaix and Paris Brussels. However, he didn’t manage to win either as he was affected by mechanical difficulties.

In Het Volk, he avoided any bad luck which he had suffered previously. He escaped with 30 kilometres remaining with the Belgian Fred de Bruyne. They left the likes of Rik van Looy, Wim van Est and Rik van Steenbergen behind.

At the finish in Ghent, he easily outsprinted his breakaway companion de Bruyne to become the first foreign winner of the race. Fausto Coppi had been first across the line back in 1948 but had been disqualified after taking a wheel from a rider who wasn’t a team mate.

In winning the race, Shay also became the first English speaker to win a classic.

Check out the link below for a great piece of archive footage showing Shay’s win.


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