If you know your Six Day stats then you’ll be aware that the Australian pairing of Danny Clark and Don Allan is the ninth most successful ever, based on wins, with 15; but fifth most successful ever based on points from top four finishes – 15 wins, 15 second places, 11 third places and 12 fourth places.
While Allan’s legend is firmly centered on the boards, he was also a gifted and versatile road rider before his work on the indoor tracks took precedence.
His first big international win was a stunning stage win in the 1973 Peace Race, followed by a stage win in the Tour of Austria the same year; the following year he turned pro for Dutch team Frisol – he would stay there for four years.
He rode his first Tour de France in 1974 and scored wins on the tough Dutch pro criterium circuit.
In ’75 he rode the Tour again, won again in the criteriums, rode an excellent Worlds but most notably won a stage in the Vuelta – beating none other than ‘Mr.10,000 volts,’ former world pro road race champion, Marino Basso of Italy.
By 1976 the Six Days were becoming his priority, but he still sprinted to a top 10 in the Worlds at Ostuni in dusty Southern Italy.
In this, part one of a two part interview, we talk to the genial Australian about his days as a ‘roadie.’
You won a stage in the Peace Race, Don – that ain’t easy!
“Stages in the Peace Race certainly weren’t easy to win. There was enormous strength within the Eastern European countries; especially in ’73 we had Likhachev (Russia) and Szurkowski (Poland) to battle with.
“Likhachev won siz stages and was impossible to beat in a normal sprint to the line.
“He was strong and ruthless (Polish iron man Stanislaw Szozda once described Likhachev as a ‘gangster.’ Ed.) so I thought my best chance was to enter the stadium first and try and hold him off.
“I attacked 700 meters from the finish, was first on to the cinder track and did hold him off.”