Tuesday, October 26, 2021
HomeInterviewsSid Barras - Part Two; National Champion in '79 - after 10...

Sid Barras – Part Two; National Champion in ’79 – after 10 years of trying

-

In Part One of our interview with British professional legend, Sid Barras we discussed his amateur days, his motivation for turning pro, his strained relationship with Peter Post at Raleigh, his win in the Scottish Milk Race and that day at Eastway when he out-sprinted the great Eddy Merckx to take second place in the Glenryck Cup behind Didi Thurau.

In Part Two we discuss the race he was favourite for every year for a decade but which it took him 10 years to win; the British Professional Road Race Championship.

Sid Barras
Sid Barras takes the win in Stage 1 of the 1983 Wolverhampton Two Day.

You won the British Pro title in 1979 but I remember one year where you were up the road nearly all day?

“That was ’76 when my team mate Hughie Porter said he really wanted to win the National Championship.

“I like to think I’m not a selfish rider so I said I would go up the road and put the onus on the other teams to chase; I also helped Keith Lambert win one of his national titles during my time.

“The ’76 race was at Blackpool over 130 miles, I went away with Brian Tadman and Jock Kerr, the latter was a Holdsworth rider and wouldn’t work with me. We were away for 80 miles with a maximum lead of 6:30 but when we eventually got brought back to the bunch, where Hughie said to me ‘I’m buggered!’ 

“So we had to change the plan and I had to try and win the bunch sprint, if the line had come 50 cm sooner I’d have won but Geoff Wiles of Holdsworth just got me on the line.” 

It must have been a great satisfaction when you eventually did win?

Sid Barras
Sid Barras won the National Road Championship for Carlton-Weinmann after years of trying.

“Yes, that finally came in 1979 when I was with Carlton-Weinmann. The race was  over 156 miles in the rain at Telford, it was a great feeling because I had to beat a continental combine to win; the late Phil Edwards (Sanson), Graham Jones (Peugeot) and the late Paul Sherwen (Fiat) who were all working for Barry Hoban (Miko-Mercier).

“Jones was flying, there was a tough prime hill called, ‘The Rock’ and I had go after him up there.

“There were five of us at the death, Hoban, Edwards, Jones and Dudley Hayton (Viking-Campagnolo) and they all sat on me for the last kilometre.

“But they were actually playing into my hands, I knew I had the best jump and we were all knackered and frozen after nearly seven hours in the rain.

“I selected my gear for the sprint, 53 x 14, slowed it right down and positioned myself in the gutter so that I could see anyone coming round and they would have to go into the wind.

“I jumped with 150 to go and won it from the front.

“Hoban was second and immediately protested that I’d switched him; but the judges were aware that in an uphill sprint in the freezing rain the bike’s going to move about a bit and I knew they wouldn’t uphold his complaint.

“Hoban wasn’t happy about their decision and wouldn’t come to the podium.”

Between ’78 and ’87 you were with six different teams; Viking-Campagnolo, Carlton-Weinmann, Weinmann-Chicken, Coventry Eagle, Falcon and Moducel.

“That’s just how the sport was… in ’81 I was on half the money I was getting in ’80.

“Coventry Eagle and Falcon were really the same team.

“Moducel in ‘85/’86 was good, there was a big revival in the sport at that time.” 

Sid Barras
Sid Barras, riding for Module in 1985.

Which team were you happiest at?

“Bantel, I was there for a total of six years.

“But I enjoyed Carlton-Weinmann, that was a good team too.

“And the two seasons I spent with Moducel were good. He had moved on by the time I joined the team but it was Micky Morrison who brought Moducel into the sport. Micky had the gift of the gab and brought a lot of sponsors into cycling.”

Who were the ones you had to keep an eye on it if fit came down to a sprint?

“To be honest, I was finished as a ‘big kick’ sprinter by ’81, I did have a massive kick but you can’t keep that for ever, it declines as you get older – look at Cav.

Phil Thomas was a fast finisher and so was Malcolm Elliott, then there was Shane Sutton, he was quick.

Steve Joughin and I formed a good sprint partnership, I was his lead out man at Moducel.

“I can remember in Kellogg’s city centre crits leading him out for two laps, him taking the win and me still finishing third.

“Then there was one in Cardiff where I was leading Steve out but he let the wheel go so I could win it on my own.

“Another lad that no one thinks about when you mention sprinters is Ian Banbury, remember that he won the National Road Race? He’d been a pursuiter [Banbury was in the bronze medal winning GB team pursuit squad at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, ed.] and had terrific leg speed, I’ve seen him win sprints in the 14 sprocket when everyone else was in the 12.”

The wins which give you most satisfaction?

“The National Championship, that took me 10 years to win; it’s such a strange race, I was one of the favourites every year but that’s a race where the favourite never wins! 

“I think I would have won in ’76 if I hadn’t been up the road for 80 miles for Hughie but it was a great satisfaction to finally win it when I did, beating the opposition I did.

“The stage win in Switzerland in ‘73 was a nice one given the quality of the opposition, it’s the one people remember.

“The London to Holyhead wins in ’70 and ’77 were satisfying too, that’s a race where team tactics go out the window at the end of a hard 267 miles.

“Another nice win was a stage I won in the Vuelta a Mallorca in 1978, Marc Demeyer (who was Freddy Maertens henchman and won Paris-Roubaix) was second and Leo Van Vliet who won Ghent-Wevelgem was third.”

Sid Barras
Sid Barras (r) on a charity ride with Sean Kelly.

Anything you think you might have done differently with the benefit of hindsight?

“They were very different times, the continent was difficult to break into as an English pro and there were a lot of ‘pitfalls’ over there, if you know what I mean?

“I’d like to have ridden the Tour of Britain Milk Race when I was in my prime, I rode it as a young man then couldn’t ride it again until I was 35 years-old.

“I think that if I ridden it in my best years, out of 10 attempts I could have won it.” 

With thanks to Sid for his time, it was nice to speak to a bona fide legend of British cycle sport.

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

John Herety – Pro with Coop Mercier; “By the end of the third year I was sleeping 18 hours each day”

In recent years John Herety is best known for his work as manager of the various incarnations of the popular and successful Condor continental team. But he’s a man who’s ‘got the T-shirt’ – British and French amateur Classic wins, a Peace Race stage, a year with ACBB, three years with Coop Mercier, the British Professional Road Championship, the GP Pino Cerami (nearly) and a stage in the Tour of Britain Milk Race (eventually).

Hugh Carthy – “I knew with more racing and appropriate rest I’d get stronger”

Englishman Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) took his first Grand Tour win on Stage 12 of La Vuelta a España yesterday, attacking just outside the final kilometer of the legendary Alto de l'Angliru, soloing to the finish in a fantastic display of measured, determined riding.

Cayn Theakston – Worcester’s Portuguese Hero

Here’s a question for you; “How many British riders have won a three-week continental stage race?” Here’s a clue: the answer isn’t “none”. In 1988, 23 year-old Cayn Theakston from Worcester who never had a day’s coaching in his life, fought and won in one of the toughest arenas in Europe to claim the 19-stage Volta a Portugal, overcoming crashes, mountains, horrendous roads and even combines within his own team to record a win which is remembered in Portugal to this day.

Bradley Wiggins wins the British Road Championships 2011

On a balmy Sunday afternoon in quaint Stamfordham, Sky and Bradley Wiggins did 'what England expected' and grabbed the first four places in the British elite road race championship over 197 hard Northumbrian kilometres; and the skeletal Bradley Wiggins will start the Tour in the white British champion's jersey after jumping his team mates on the run in; defending champion Geraint Thomas took silver, Peter Kennaugh was third and Ian Stannard fourth.

Grant Thomas Tribute, Part One; Behind the Winner’s Bouquet

Following the sad passing of former British Amateur Road Race Champion and road track star Grant Thomas in The Netherlands we received many words of tribute to the man who defined ‘cool’ on a racing bike. Mr. Paul Kilbourne has featured on our pages before, reliving his memories of his time with the now legendary ANC team, gave us a lovely tribute to Grant, which we publish with pride.

Steve Jones – Pro in Belgium in the 80’s; “You had to sell a few races to make ends meet!”

Steve Jones is one of the ‘forgotten men’ of 70’s and 80’s cycling but he was British Junior 25 Mile Time Trial Champion - a Dutch Champion too, a serial winner as an amateur on the roads of Belgium and The Netherlands, an Olympian, winner of the amateur version of the Trofeo Baracchi, a team mate of some of the sport’s biggest names and a professional for a decade. Oh yes, and he rode for Mr. Capper’s ANC team.

At Random

A Great Result

A Great Result. After all of my brash talk about Garmin's cherry having been popped, and Tyler thus being assured of the win on Stage 3, it was so exciting to see the result this morning! The race wasn't quite the shootout I'd anticipated, but Garmin executed their final kilometres brilliantly, and if there ever was a deserving winner of a stage, it is Ty Farrar.

Tour of Britain 2007 – Day 4: Stage 3, Worcester – Wolverhampton

Stage three of the Tour of Britain 2007 into Wolverhampton, so how is the grass track boy from Wick doing?

La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 18; A Estrada – Monte Castrove en Meis, 173.5 km. Fabio Aru with Froome Calling the Shots

‘Alberto defends lead in spite of heavy bombardment at Monte Castrove en Meis,’ says the Saxo-Tinkoff press release – with Chris Froome the man in charge of the howitzers. Christopher may not be stylish but the man is a bike racer – and that has to be respected. The tactic is simple, when the road goes up and the pace eases back a notch – attack! It nearly netted him the win today but Aru is young, hungry, skinny and pretty quick for a mountain man. But Froome did climb to second on the ‘virtual’ podium and claw back some time on Contador.

Giro d’Italia 2013 – Stage 11: Tarvisio – Vajont (Erto e Casso) 182km. Ramunas Navardauskas Rules

Ryder Hesjedal is one of the nicest professional athletes you’ll ever meet, polite, grounded, sincere, soft spoken and likeable. To see him languishing in the gruppetto with Cav, yesterday was really quite sad. He was strong at Liège, paving the way for the win which took Dan Martin from ‘up and coming,’ to firmly, ‘arrived!’

The Killer Danilo Di Luca Takes Liege

Danilo Di Luca rewarded his hard-working teammates in the best way yesterday (Sunday) by racing a tactically perfect Liege-Bastogne-Liege and taking the win in front a first-class field. "I've been dreaming of winning this race for nine years. This is the most beautiful and most difficult race that I have won" exclaimed Di Luca post-race.

Jordan Kerby – “NZ are getting faster at each meet we do”

You’ve been World Pursuit Champion and a regular on the Australian national squad. But then the federation tells you that they think you’ve, ‘gone as far as you can go,’ and you’re out. That’s the end of your international track cycling career in that case? Not if your name is Jordan Kerby whose mother happens to be a New Zealander by birth.