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Paul Curran – English ‘Legend’ of the 80’s and 90’s Track and Road

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Paul Curran
Paul, in GB colours at the 1986 Milk Race.

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.

He won every big race on the UK calendar from Girvan to the Isle of Man to Essex via The Peak and Cotswolds.

And that’s before we mention the Commonwealth Games Road Race and Team Time Trial the Tour of Normandie and Circuit des Mines.

High times we had a word …

You were one versatile man on a bicycle, Paul!

“Yeah, I did a lot on the track – and well, track races are pretty much all the same, aren’t they?

“I didn’t switch to road until 1985 but I had all that track experience behind me.”

Being Scottish I have to ask you about Girvan; you won it three times…

“The race was always good to me; it was at Easter and because I was full time on the bike I was pretty fit for it.

“You had to be ready for anything in that race; from baking sunshine to getting snowed off the bike – it was always three hard days of racing.”

Paul Curran
In the leader’s jersey at the 1984 Girvan.
Paul Curran
World Amateur Road Race, 1985.

You won The Archer, The Manx, The Peak, Essex, The Cotswolds – all great races but all gone…

“Yeah, it’s sad, disgusting in fact.

“I think that the National Federation has to take some responsibility for letting them fizzle away – those were all great races.”

Paul Curran
Paul was second at the 1985 Circuit des Mines to future pro Pascal Lance.

You won the Circuit des Mines and Tour de Normandie; did you get much interest from the pro teams after those wins?

“I had a few nibbles and actually went down and spent some time in Portugal with a team but didn’t fancy that.

“I had quite a few offers from amateur teams over there but back in the UK I always had the carrot of the Commie Games or Olympics coming along…”

Paul Curran
All smiles at the 1987 Tour of the Peak.

You were a Manchester Wheelers man; some say that The Wheelers helped kill pro cycling here because they made it too easy for the best guys to stay amateur with the financial assistance they gave?

“It depends, they were different times, remember… and as an amateur on the international scene you were up against the Eastern Bloc riders – that was hard racing.

“Remember too, that a lot of British ‘pros’ had jobs and I didn’t initially fancy the ‘crit heavy’ UK race calendar.”

Why turn pro when you did?

“I was getting on for 27 years-old and had ridden the Olympic Road race – but that came to nothing so I just wanted to try something different.

“I turned pro and had a decent year but then the team folded and the British pro scene began to collapse – just my luck!”

What weren’t you good at?

“Lots of things!

“For example, even though I won the hill climb, I hated it and only rode it because Jack Fletcher, the man behind Manchester Wheelers, asked me to but I really didn’t enjoy it.

“That was the good thing about being amateur; I could pick and choose what I rode – and I was never keen on time trial…”

Paul Curran
Paul turned pro for the Percy Bilton team in 1989, and rode the Kellogg’s Tour that year.

You won your Madison titles with Hugh Cameron – he was a big lad compared to you…

“I won three madison titles with Big Hughie and one with Stu Morris – it worked well with Hughie, he’d throw me in like a cricket ball with 200 to go to the sprint.

“We were good with our changes and a change from him set you up nicely for the sprint – like I said; I came off his sling like a cricket ball!”