By Graham Healy
In November 1985, Stephen Roche crashed in the Paris Six-Day damaging his right knee and he would suffer from the injury for the rest of his career.
However, he did return to the track and came very close to a victory in one of the prestigious six-days when he finished second with Tony Doyle in the 1991 Grenoble Six-Day. However, it was felt by many that Doyle and Roche should have been declared the victors.
It was a star-studded line-up that year. Amongst the big names from the road were Thierry Marie, Claudio Chiapucci, Laurent Fignon who was paired with Laurent Biondi and Thierry Marie.
Roche’s partner Tony Doyle was an excellent six-day racer who had won numerous events including the Six Days of Munich, Ghent, Berlin and Copenhagen. He had also won in Grenoble before, back in 1986 with Francesco Moser.
The English-speaking pair rode very well that week and on the final night they looked likely to win. Going into the last race, the pairing of Philippe Tarantini and Roche’s Tonton Tapis team-mate Jean-Claude Colotti were well ahead of Doyle and Roche on points. However, the French pair trailed by a lap.
If Roche and Doyle could maintain that lap, they would win. Early on in the evening though, Colotti went on the attack and recovered the lap. With just fifteen minutes of racing left, Roche gained back that all-important lap to retake the lead.
In the closing few minutes, Colotti attacked again. He managed to get onto the back of the group when the race finished but did not pass the last rider as is required to gain the lap.
Doyle and Roche were declared the winners to the disappointment of the crowd. Tarantini was a local rider, from La Tronche on the outskirts of Grenoble and boos rang out from the crowd.
The judges then decided to overturn their original decision and declared Tarantini and Colotti the winners instead. They later stated that the group had been so split up, it was difficult to determine who the last man was.
Doyle would take one final win in a Six-Day shortly after when he won the Ghent race with Etienne de Wilde. Roche however never managed to get a win in one of the Six-Days.