In 1979, Stephen Roche became the youngest winner of the Rás Tailteann (or The Health Race) as it was known then, beating the Frenchman Breure and fellow Dubliner, Alan McCormack.

Roche took two stage wins along the way, the second stage from Longford to Westport and the penultimate stage, a 25-kilometre time-trial in Navan.

That year, the national broadcaster RTE, decided to produce a documentary about the race, entitled ‘Wheels in Unison: Health Race ’79’. The documentary was produced and directed by Michael O’Carroll and presented by Brendan O’Reilly.

To prepare himself for the film, Michael O’Carroll had travelled to watch the Tour de France to learn more about the technique of international cyclists. His own car, a Ford Cortina, was specially adapted for the task of filming the race. A passenger door and the boot door were removed so that the cameraman could get the maximum number of angles. The documentary went on to win a Jacob’s award in 1980.

The link below shows a clip from the documentary where Roche is interviewed by O’Reilly during the final stage. He comes across as a pretty confident teenager, looking forward to the celebrations afterwards, chatting up the girls back at work and a steak from his mammy in Dundrum. A few months later, Roche would depart for France and the rest is history.


  1. Mangan was the youngest.
    Roche was born on Nov. 28th 1959 and the 1979 Rás ended on July 1st 1979. That would make him 19 years and 214 days.
    Mangan was born on 16th August 1936 and the 1955 Rás ended on August 7th, making Mangan 18 years and 356 days. That is 223 days younger than Roche.


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