Monday, September 27, 2021
HomeInterviewsPeter Murphy - the Kingsnorth Wheelers; Belgian Kermis Kings

Peter Murphy – the Kingsnorth Wheelers; Belgian Kermis Kings


The Vuelta is underway.

The World Tour, the pinnacle; but unless you’re a super talent nurtured from your junior years a la Taylor Phinney or Bradley Wiggins, how do you take the first step up the mountain where only the Super Teams can breathe the rarefied air?

Well, you could do a lot worse that speak to a certain Peter Murphy – Jack Bauer did and the rest is history.

Peter is one of the men behind Kingsnorth Wheelers – the Flandrian team with the English name.

Peter has worked for Belgian pro cycle clothing manufacturer, Nico Sport for 37 years and has the T-shirt and the DVD when it comes to pro cycling.

Inspired by Jack Bauer’s recent Commonwealth Games road race silver medal he took time to talk ‘grass roots’ with VeloVeritas.

Peter Murphy
Garmin’s Jack Bauer. Photo©Martin Williamson

Why and when did you found the team, Peter?

“The Kingsnorth Wheelers was founded about twenty years ago to give British and Commonwealth riders a chance to race as a team in key events in Belgium and Europe.

“Staf Boone, a Ghent cycling stalwart and well known helper of overseas riders along with Paul West of the then BCF (British Cycling Federation) based the club in Ghent and since then there’s been a long line of great riders hoping to secure a Pro Contract.

“We have had many great names in The Kingsnorth – Kiwi’s Jack Bauer, Gordon McCauley, Chris Macic – who won a lot of races but decided to return home and start a business – and Darren Medhurst, son of the 70’s Six Day man, the late Paul Medhurst.

“Aussies, Nathan Clarke, Doug Repacholi – who should have gone so much further [Douglas had a ‘party animal’ rep. ed.], US Guest riders Alex Candelario and Kirk O,Bee.

“British riders who went on the good contracts in Britain include Steve Lampier, Dean Downing, Peter Williams, Tom Murray, and Tobyn Horton to name just a few.”

Peter Murphy
One big happy family at the Farm this summer. Photo©Peter Murphy

Is the team still based at ‘the farm’?

“The riders live at a great location, a heritage farm dwelling very close to Ghent centre and the Flemish countryside.

“Naglis, a past top East European rider also lives there to maintain the upkeep.

“Naglis raced with Bobrik, Ekimov and the riders of that generation before the break-up of the Soviet Union.”

The guys are well looked after, aren’t they?

“The riders may be transported to races that are far from Ghent or evening crits but often prefer to ride to the races to ensure a good warm-up.

“The clothing is provided and there is a 200€ per win bonus system in place.

Mario Willems is a guest Belgian rider and has won seven races this year and had numerous places in the top five.

[Willems was one of the Kermis Kings not so long ago, along with Guy Smet, winning races by the dozen, ed.]

“He would help Jack with his tactics telling him when to go in the last few kilometres.”

Peter Murphy
Jack Bauer takes a feed from Ian Whitehead. Photo©Peter Murphy

Is Jack your biggest result?

“Yes, Jack must be the greatest success story – winning 10 races in a few months and then going to Endura and from there to the World Tour and Garmin.

“He was known for his strength on the bike and his gentlemanly demeanour off it.

“It must be noted that before the club started Staf had also assisted Alan Peiper (you’ll see reference to Staf in Allan’s book, ‘A Peiper’s Tale‘) and the Classic-winning Kiwi Eric MacKenzie.

“My humble opinion is that Doug Repacholi could also have been a great racer if he was a little more serious with his training and preparation.”

Peter Murphy
Without a doubt, Jack is Kingsnorth’s most successful old boy. Photo©Peter Murphy

And is Belgium still the place?

“Flanders is the place to be for young riders wishing to break into big time. If you do well you get a contract. It’s that easy but it is up to the rider to show what he is worth.

“The national Latvian and Lithuanian teams base themselves in the Ghent area.

“Ghent has been known since the early fifties as the place to base yourself if you’re an ‘Anglo.’

“Dave Ricketts the English pioneer who rode for the Plume Vainquer bike shop team in the 50’s along with the famous Aussie Six Day riders, Alf Strom and Reg Arnold – riding road and track – and then the late, great Englishman, Tom Simpson in the sixties who won San Remo, Flanders, Lombardy and the Worlds, they all came to Ghent.

“Other English riders include Barry Hoban who won Ghent-Wevelgem and eight Tour de France stages, Vin Denson who won a Giro stage and the Tour of Luxembourg and Alan Ramsbottom who won stages in races like the Midi Libere.

“‘Fat Albert’ Beurick was the head of Simpson’s fan club and ran the Cafe de Engel; he and the famous Mrs Deene both put riders up for minimal fees to give them their start.”

What about the ladies?

“The Kingsnorth International Wheelers have two ladies at this time in the club and Jessica Stoddart placed well last week in Oostkamp in an Elite Dames Koers.”

Peter Murphy
Staf Boone, the flambouyant ‘father’ to so many successful riders. Photo©Peter Murphy

Can ‘cross riders stay in winter?

“The farm is an ideal place for cross riders; Jo Atkins the great John Atkins (multiple British champion and top ten finisher in the ‘cross Worlds, ed.) grandson is in attendance at the moment preparing for the coming cross season which start early September in Belgium.”

As a man who’s seen it all, what’s your take on Mondialisation?

“I believe that The Mondialisation of the sport can only be of good bringing in previously untried countries such as China and for the commercial side of course.

“More people purchasing bikes can only be of benefit.

“It’s the same with sportivs or “reliability trials” as I knew them in the UK, back in the day.

“But I wish the good “winners” of these events would treat themselves to a license to see how they fare against bone fide competitors.

“It’s easy to win the club run and get false ideas of one’s ability.”

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the sport?

“I believe that the greatest change in the past half century in cycling is that now it’s a white collar hobby whereas before peasants and factory workers raced to win money to help to pay for the family’s food bill.

“It has in fact become the new golf.”

And in conclusion, if you want to make it – head for Gent?

“I would strongly advise any rider to come to Google Staf Boone’s Farm.

“Whether they be contract seekers or holiday makers; Staf will welcome you and you can see first hand how racing is in the land of the kermis.

“Please call 00 32 9 2250096 and ask for Staf.”

Well, what are you waiting on?

Peter Murphy
Kingsnorth riders are a common sight in Belgian Kermises. Photo©Heidi Lannoo

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

Gent Six Day 2014 – One of the ‘Straightest’ Sixes We’ve Seen

I remember once, after the last chase in a Six Day I asked Dirk, our Belgian mechanic; ‘was that finale ‘straight’ Dirk?' He fixed me with a patient stare, much as a good parent would do after their child has said something silly, ‘have you ever seen a ‘straight’ Six Day, Ed?’ I took his point, they’re all pretty much choreographed – but like I keep saying, you have to be able to take laps out of a string riding at 52-53 kph to win. But I reckon that on Sunday evening I did see a straight finale.

Paul Watson – Part of the Legendary 1987 Tour de France Team to 2016 World Champion!

It’s hard to believe it’s 10 years since last I spoke to Paul Watson about a great ride he pulled off in 1987. Paul was British Amateur Road Champion in 1985, the same year as he was third in the Tour of Britain, ‘Milk Race’ behind Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner, Eric Van Lancker of Belgium and the man who should have been a super star but never quite was, Roy Knickman (USA). He rode pro with Van Lancker’s Belgian Fangio team at the end of that year but returned to Britain to ride for Raleigh in 1986.

Michael Nicolson – Showing Grinta in Belgium

When I get calls from both of our men who trawl the Belgian palmares websites – Vik and Dave – in the one day about a performance, I know it must be a good ride. Michael Nicolson’s 14th place in the tough GP Stad Zottegem over 182 kilometres behind Slovenian hard man Blaz Jarc (NetApp-Endura) with Vacansoleil duo Wouter Mol (The Netherlands) and 2012 Paris-Tours winner Marco Marcato (Italy) third and fifth respectively, certainly falls into that category.

Under-23 Het Volk 2007

Continental TV may be dire, but there's a good choice of radio stations; Percy Sledge is telling us about "When a man loves a woman", as we jump back into the VW after paying homage at the Karl Buyse monument in sleepy Wontergem, heading for the Under-23 Het Volk 2007. Buyse was a son of the Flanders sod who won the Tour de France in 1926. A long time ago maybe, but not forgotten here in the heartland.

Dan Patton Blog – Getting Back On It

So I thought it was about time I posted another Dan Patton Blog update, I've been rather quiet of late and the reason being quite simply there's not been much to talk about. I've been plagued by misfortune after misfortune this winter which ironically gave me lots more time to update the blog, yet I was short of anything really interesting to say - until now that is...

Ian Field Blog – Another Frustrating Day

Ian Field Blog on VeloVeritas. Some days are good, same days are bad, and some days are a bit of both. Yesterday was a bit of both which left me very frustrated and disappointed with my result.

At Random

Jason MacIntyre Wins the Scottish Hill Climb Championship 2007

Jason MacIntyre Wins the Scottish Hill Climb Championship 2007 - It took Jason MacIntyre (Edge RT) just 3 minutes and 37 seconds to win his fifth Scottish individual time trial championship of the 2007 season; at Bonnyton Moor on a dreich Sunday afternoon, the hill climb was duly added to the 10, 25, TTT and circuit TT, in the bleak country above Eaglesham.

Scottish 25 Mile Time Trial Championship 2007

Jason Macintyre (Edge RT) made it a 'double-double' on Sunday morning as he successfully defended his Scottish 25 Mile Time Trial Championship 2007 with 51:58 on a sunny but airy Irvine by-pass, the win coming just two weeks after he retained his British 25 mile title.

Kenny De Ketele – “Now the young guys just push me out of the way!”

Third in London with Moreno De Pauw; winner in Gent again with De Pauw; encore in Rotterdam with De Pauw; the win in Bremen with Home Boy, Theo Reinhardt; second in Berlin with De Pauw and looking well on the way to the top of the podium here in Copenhagen with Michael Morkov – it can only be Topsport and Belgium’s Mr. Kenny De Ketele.

Worlds Road Championships 2009, so far

A great ride from Peter Kennaugh; fourth is always the worst place to finish - it's hard enough to remember silvers and bronzes; never mind who was fourth. But a good ride and one that bodes well for his pro career.

Marco Pinotti – “The Cycling Professor”, This is His Story

Italian professional Marco Pinotti's new book, "The Cycling Professor" isn't so much a classic biography as a collection of anecdotes and experiences.

Tour Down Under 2012 – Starting NOW!

The pro cycling season kicks off today with the Tour Down Under. Finally! It feels longer and longer between the end of the previous season and the start of the next. But thankfully the wait is over and we are away.