Monday, September 27, 2021
HomeInterviewsPeter Murphy - "Go To Belgium"

Peter Murphy – “Go To Belgium”


We chat to Peter Murphy about racing in Belgium. Scottish bike racing; let’s face it, no matter how well you do in the Super Sixes, or how quick you can go around West Ferry, you’re going nowhere if you stay in Auld Scotia.

Please don’t quote Graeme Obree – he’s a one off, crazy, marvellous, gifted, but impossible to emulate. John Kennedy, Billy Bilsland, Robert Millar, David Millar – they all crossed the channel.

The track? Then you best get down to Manchester and see if you can get on ‘the Plan,’ that’s what Chris Hoy and Craig MacLean did.

It’s a scary thought, but if you want to “make it big” it isn’t happening among the hillies and glens.

Cross the channel; go to any kermis around Gent – capital of Flanders – and the chances are you’ll see riders of all ages, shapes and sizes in a blue and yellow strip, covered in advertising (last season one of the main ads was for dog food!).

Peter Murphy
Kingsnorth International Wheelers.

Another of their main sponsors is Nico Sport; manufacturers of team clothing ‘since grass.’

The team’s name is a bit surprising, though; Kingsnorth International Wheelers – what the heck is a British registered club doing in the flat lands?

Peter Murphy is the man behind it, back in the 90’s he decided that British and Commonwealth riders needed a helping hand to establish themselves in international cycle racing’s heartland – Flanders.

Peter Murphy
Kingsnorth win in Aartrijke kermis.

For our second installment of racing as an espoir in Belgium, we decided that it would be interesting to talk to this Englishman who loves the cobbles and whose day job is selling Nico Sport clothing.

It’s a labour of love, Peter?

“It’s no labour at all; I’m happy to do it.

“I stayed at Mrs. Deene’s [boarding house for racing cyclists, frequented by our VeloVeritas editor during his racing career ] for eleven years, back in the 70’s and 80’s, and I was involved in a golden age where there was a thriving community of British and Commonwealth cyclists based in Flanders – in and around Gent, in particular.”

Not now, though?

“No, now they expect five star luxury and beautiful bikes now – they want to watch MTV all afternoon and not train.

“Everyone wants easy living, nowadays!

“The Aussies and Russians don’t expect that, though – that’s why they do so well.”

Peter Murphy
Winning in Aartrijke.

Give us some names of good riders who have come through Kingsnorth.

“Gordon MacAulay from New Zealand; Nathan Clarke from Australia, Kirk Obee from the USA.”

Do you still want British riders?

“Of course!

“We need them or otherwise the club will go.

“We want to give then the chance to race with riders like the ones I mentioned; learn what bike racing is about.

“Dean Downing was with us, so was Peter Williams [recent Drummond Trophy winner] and Tom Murray [stage one winner and yellow jersey holder at Girvan, this year].”

How did you get the dog food sponsor?

“That’s Staf Bonen’s side of things; he organises the sponsors and the accommodation for riders who come over.

“This year he has the Saint Augustyn Brewery as one of the main sponsors.

“Staf is also the man who can fix up accommodation for riders at really good rates.”

Peter Murphy
The club provides great support for their riders, helping them to get the most out of their racing; here, another win, this time in Merelbeke.

What’s your role?

“I try to find the British riders; I remember when Tom Murray came – he was struggling to finish a race; last year he was Russ Downing’s main man and now he’s a team leader [at Plowman Craven].”

What do you get out of it?

“I’ve never been a rider but I was there in Gent in the great days and it makes me sad that it’s not like that anymore.

“Danny Clark (six day king) lived in Gent for many years; the American 7-11 guys stayed there – you’d see Bob Roll in town wearing his stetson with the feathers in it.”

What’s changed?

“Apart from people looking for an easier life, the weakness of the pound hasn’t helped.

“When I stayed at Mrs. Deene’s, you paid 350 Belgian Francs per day for your dinner, bed and breakfast – the exchange rate was 90 to the pound in those days, so it was good value and you could live cheaply.

“Sure, it was cold in the winter time, but Hugh Porter stayed there, Tony Doyle, then Phil Griffiths and his ANC riders.

“Roger Hammond says that if you want to make it; ‘go to Belgium!'”

Indeed, ‘Go to Belgium’, or France, or Italy. Check out that Kingsnorth website now – just remember to talk to us VeloVeritas guys (and Viktor of course) when we’re hanging over the barriers at the Tour of Flanders start!

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Jacob Vaughan – Moving up to the Lotto-Soudal U23 team

Jacob Vaughan is arguably the most successful of the Rayner Clan, this year with his move to the Lotto-Soudal U23 team. A solid first year U23 in 2017 was capped with an excellent win in the Guido Reybrouck Classic. We caught up with him prior to his first big get together with the team.

Dan Patten Blog – End of Season Report!

the end of the season has arrived on the Dan Patten Blog. All in all it's been a good year - I've learned a lot, showed my strength (although sometimes a little too much) and certainly had some success along the way.

George Atkins – Time Trials, Belgium and Cooking!

George Atkins was a name that suddenly appeared on the Scottish scene back in the summer. And on Sunday the versatile man from Leicester took silver in the British U23 Time Trial Championships, but before his foray into the world of riding 'alone and unpaced', he spent six weeks in Flanders, so naturally we needed to have a word with him, not long before the British Champs.

Getting Ready for a Kermis Race – the 30 Essential Steps

We interviewed Joe Parkin recently as part of our "Racing in Belgium" series. Joe has written a great book about his experiences entitled "A Dog in a Hat", and is busy writing his second.

Please Welcome Our Newest Blogger: Josh Cunningham

Hello. I suppose I had better start with an introduction! My name is Josh Cunningham, I am 20 year old, and for two years I have committed myself to the formidable task of "making it", in the world of professional cycling, or at least get as far as I can possibly go in realising these utopian dreams.

Giving It A Go In Belgium

Giving It A Go In Belgium; In part four of our (irregular) series on racing as an amateur in Belgium, VeloVeritas own web manager and editor, Martin, talks about when he had some time in the mid-80’s between completing a college course and starting a new job, and decided to head off to Flanders for the season...

At Random

Mark Stewart – 2020 New Zealand Omnium Champion!

When last we spoke to Mark Stewart, back in April, he’d just been cut adrift from the GB track squad on the strength of an admittedly below par ride in the World Points Race Championship, despite an excellent series of World Cup results over the winter. The other day, when we rang Mark we were back to speaking to ‘our Mark of old’, the new 2020 New Zealand Omnium Champion, full of enthusiasm for life and his sport.

Gordon McCauley – Cycling Legend

Kiwi, Gordon McCauley has been a round ‘since grass’ and has raced just about everywhere there is to race and seen just about everything there is to see in pro bike racing. At 41 the man from the land of the long white cloud is still racing and winning – it was Vik who gave us the push to get hold of Gordon – we're glad he did. We recently took a wander through his career with him – here’s what he had to say

British RR Championships 2016 – Adam Blyth and the Barnes sisters steal the show

Adam Blythe produced the big result and relegating Mark Cavendish to second step of the podium for the second year in succession. With the Tinkoff team folding at the end of the year this result will make his chances of a quality contract for 2017 all the more likely.

Ross Lamb – “You don’t get so many opportunities to climb in Belgium”

It doesn’t seem like it but it was season 2017 when last we spoke to Ross Lamb, a David Rayner Fund man ‘doing good’ in The Flatlands. Flanders gets under a man’s skin so we were surprised to hear he was moving to La Belle France – that said, times are tough with teams folding everywhere from the UK to Columbia and all points in between. But that was our first question...

Rick Zabel Victorious in Bedale; 2019 Tour de Yorkshire – Stage 2

Bedale was packed to the rafters to see Rick Zabel claim a stunning sprint victory on a hugely successful second day at the Tour de Yorkshire. By the time they reached Market Place it was Rick Zabel who hit top speed and romped to victory in front of some unbelievable Yorkshire support. The win was his first since 2015 and one which will live long in the memory.

Le Tour de France 2009 – Stage 16: Martigny > Bourg-Saint-Maurice, 159km

Sitting here in Bourg-Saint-Maurice, perhaps I'm going to revise my opinion that l'Equipe's Tour coverage isn't as good as the Gazzetta's Giro coverage. The Gazzetta looks better, but the L'Equipe goes so deep.