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Paul Jones had the rather splendid idea of writing a book about the man who was British Junior Road Race Champion, British Kilometre Champion, twice British Team Pursuit Champion, six times British 25 Mile Time Trial Champion and who unearthed the Holy Grail of time testing - the 30 miles per hour 25 mile time trial ride; stopping the clock in 49 minutes and 24 seconds in August 1978; Alf Engers.
He was 1991 British Amateur Champion, won the Franco-Belge against top opposition and took the major French Classic, Paris-Chauny - but was out of the sport by the age of 25 with his best years yet to come. His name; John Hughes. We thought he’d have a good tale to tell...
After his win in the British Time Trial Championship, here’s what Dimension Data’s Steve Cummings told us when we asked him about his chances in the British Road Race Championship: "I’m not at 100% so don’t believe I have the condition to win the road race – it’ll be perhaps another 10 days before I come into my best shape." Despite that, two days later he was topping his second Isle of Man podium as British Elite Time Trial and Road Race Champion.
The sad news came through from Belgium on Sunday morning that Graham Webb, British World road champion in 1967, had passed away. Our condolences go to his family and the many friends and fans he had in the cycling community. A great champion and a wonderful guy. Ed interviewed Graham back in 2009, and we thought that reproducing the interview now would be a good tribute to the man. In memory of Graham; his views on the sport back in 2009. 'Former World Road Race Champion,' yes, that would be nice to have that after your name!
Perhaps you’ve seen them on TV when Eurosport used to cover the Berlin Six Days – or maybe you remember them at Leicester, ‘back in the day?’ The ‘Big Motors.’ Germany, along with The Netherlands were always the ‘Heartland’ for the motor-paced aspects of the sport but in Britain back in the early 70’s we had one of the best in the world in Roy Cox. Cox was six times British Champion, won big on the German ‘stayer’ circuit, rode four World Championships and made the Worlds final in his home Worlds in 1970 – the first British amateur to do so in 70 years.
It was Phil Edwards’ friend and former team mate back in their amateur days, respected cycling photographer John Pierce who broke the sad news to us that the big man from Bristol, who won both the British Junior and Professional Road race Championships and was right hand man to Italian ‘campionissimo’ Francesco Moser at ‘super squadra’ Sanson for five seasons had died of a suspected heart attack at his home in Monaco on Sunday, April 23rd aged 67 – he was born 03:09:1949. Phil Edwards, British Champion, Olympian, respected member of an elite peloton, successful businessman and gentleman, rest in peace.
‘When I were a lad’ next to the Milk Race the biggest deal in UK cycling was the BBAR (Best British All Rounder) to find Britain’s best ‘tester’ – over 50 and 100 miles plus the 12 hour. The competition still exists but do you know who the BBAR is? Me neither. Yorkshire’s Peter Hill won the BBAR twice in the 60's but instead of going for his ‘hat trick’ he completely changed direction and headed across the English Channel to France and established himself as one of the world’s leading amateur time trial exponents before turning professional with Peugeot - but in those Machiavellian days it didn’t work out. Here’s his story...
We recently ran an interview with Liverpool Mercury stalwart, Ricky Garcia; we’re sure that Ricky would agree that perhaps the best rider The Mercury ever produced never really realised his full potential. His name is Dave Rollinson; twice British Amateur Road Race Champion, Tour de L’Avenir stage winner, French amateur Classic winner and twice a Worlds top 20 finisher.
The 70’s; great music, great cars and great riders – Merckx, De Vlaeminck, Gimondi, Thevenet, Raas, Knetemann, and the biggest rivalry British cycle sport has ever seen – Liverpool's clubs, the Kirkby versus the Mercury; their rivalry was anything but friendly. In conversation I mentioned Phil Thomas who had left the Kirkby to join the Mercury; the room went quiet, Matthews fixed me with a stare; ‘we don’t talk about him in this house’. I nodded and changed the subject, quickly.
Over the last couple of winters we’ve tracked down and spoken to some of the ‘greats’ of British cyclo-cross, John Atkins, Keith Mernickle, Chris Wreghitt and Barry Davies to name four. But our Spanish mentor, Al Hamilton pointed out to us that we hadn't spoken to the man who won the title seven times in the 80’s and 90’s – Steve Douce.
TUE's - once again I'm reminded of Elton John's words; 'and all this science I don't understand...' The forums are ablaze with righteous indignation from carpet fitters and bike shop mechanics, all of whom are well versed in conditions which affect an athlete's breathing and the treatment of any ailments related thereto. Me? I'm a glazier originally and I can't remember Prednisolone ever cropping up once during my 'apprenticeship.'
The Skol Six Day 1980, Wembley, London and I'm down to watch those brilliant late night chases, along with Sandy Gilchrist, Phil Griffiths and Stuart Sutherland. We're staying with a larger than life Londoner called Johnny Morris. Griffiths has the patter and the cheek but he he's no match for Johnny - a tousle-haired bear of a man who sells loft conversions and who's greeted as a king when we appear at the Indian restaurant each night, en route back from the Six; with his Jag parked outside at a jaunty angle on the double yellow lines on the corner, just beside the traffic lights. Needless to say, he didn’t get a ticket.
If you were on the UK race scene in the late 70’s through to the mid-90’s then you’ll be familiar with the name ‘Paul Curran.’ The man could do the lot – he was British Champion in the team pursuit, madison, points, motorpaced, pro criterium, amateur road race, team time trial and hill climb.
If you go out for a ‘steady state’ run of perhaps three hours and you average 22.4 mph then you’ve not been hanging about. But how about holding that tempo for 24 hours ? that’s ‘twenty four’ hours, a full day or three consecutive shifts at work? That’s exactly what Michael Broadwith (Arctic Tacx) did in the recent British 24 Hour Time Trial Championship, recording an event record for the Merseyside course of 537 miles; we felt that anyone who can average 22.4 mph for 24 hours has to be worth speaking to...
My eyes snap open to golden dappled rays silhouetting pine branches above - beneath me a pillow of twigs and earth, nearby a lake nestled between snowy peaks shimmers enticingly. My legs are in a tent, my body protruding out. I think I'm naked.
Most will have forgotten that Bob Chadwick rode for the mighty and still revered TI-Raleigh team of Peter Post which rode beautiful bicycles made with pride and precision in Nottingham - not churned out of moulds in the Far East. Four decades have passed and it's still debated; 1970’s Raleigh - was their legendary manager, the late Peter Post anti-British or just anti-failure? We decided to ask Bob his opinion on the matter.
In Part One of our Phil Edwards interview we heard how he was hugely successful on the 'truly amateur' British scene as he racked up the wins, competed in the fated Munich Olympics before heading to Italy in 1973 and making a name for himself in their savage amateur scene, winning big races by 1975. He was able to step smoothly up into the glamorous - but cutthroat - Italian professional world, but not just with any old team, with Sanson, the ice cream company sponsored squadra of Italian Capo, Francesco Moser...
He looked super cool on a Fred Baker with a Western Road Club jersey on his back; plonk him atop a silver all-Campag Benotto clad in Sanson strip – complete with crumpled Oppy cap at just the right angle – and well, you were into the Simpson/Ocana/Merckx zone on the CooloMeter. Phil Edwards is that man; omnipresent on the GB amateur scene he piled up the wins then headed to Italy, made a name for himself in the savage amateur scene there before stepping smoothly up into the glamorous but cutthroat Italian professional world.
The last time we spoke to ex-pro Tom Southam he was Rapha Condor’s press officer - but he’s moved on again and is now the man behind the steering wheel in the Drapac team car. The team have been rampant with stage wins in the Tour Down Under and most recently the Jayco Herald Sun Tour courtesy of Wouter Wippert and Will Clarke, respectively. Tom took time recently to chat to VeloVeritas about his move from word processor to team car.
John Atkins is Britain’s greatest ever cyclo-cross rider; 13 times a British champion and still the nation’s best ever finisher in the Worlds – and at a time when ‘cross gods, the de Vlaeminck brothers were at their zenith. He lives quietly in retirement in Wales, doesn’t ‘do the internet’ and isn’t a man for the ‘stats.’ He was surprised we wanted to speak to him but gave freely of his time and anecdotes. Here’s what John had to say to VeloVeritas just after young van der Poel had won the Worlds in Tabor.
Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) is a regular winner, and he's been at it again – this time beating no less a personage than Alejandro Valverde to win the Trofeo Andratx-Mirador d’Es Colomer, one of the Challenge Mallorca series of season openers. VeloVeritas caught up with him a few days after his fine win to chat to him about it - and his move from Swiss squad BMC to the African team for season 2015.
Team Wiggins ? Fear not, VeloVeritas is on the case. Our man in Gent, Ian Whitehead informed us that his amigo of some 25 years, Simon Cope is ‘Chat Show Sensation’ (it says here) Wiggins’ DS for the new venture. We checked Mr. Cope out and he’s got the T-shirt, the DVD and the box set – originally a 34 Nomad before he turned pro and a British champion on road and track.
These last few winters we’ve tracked down some of those colourful British cyclo-cross stars of the 70’s and 80’s – Keith Mernickle, Eric Stone and Chris Wreghitt have all told their stories to VeloVeritas. But perhaps the most colourful of them all was the man with the ‘George Best Look’ and the lightest of bikes – Barry Davies.
It’s been a wee while since we last spoke to former world professional pursuit champion, Colin Sturgess. When we heard he was back in harness – winning the League of Veteran Racing Cyclist time trial championship this autumn we thought we’d best have a word.
It's 44 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday; my mum and dad had gone to bed in our ‘cooncil hoose’ in Cross Street, Kirkcaldy and I was sitting alone in front of the TV. The World Track Cycling Championships were being held at Leicester on the big outdoor track, the English summer had lived-up to expectation, rain had wrecked the schedules and the racing was taking place late in the evening.
We can’t keep up with that man Matt Bottrill – but then not many can - no sooner had the ink gone dry on this interview we did with him after he won the 25 champs than he’d won the 10 mile champs in the second fastest time ever (17:40) and then added the ‘blue riband’ - the 25 record with 45:43 to join Bonner, Engers, Boardman and Hutchinson as a TT ‘legend.’