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Stuart Hallam – Still Nuts about Cycling after 50 Years!

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Big Brother is Watching You,’ so said George Orwell in the first chapter of his famous book, ‘1984.’ In that context it referred to a totalitarian state where everyone was under constant surveillance by the Authorities.

But in the case of 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s star of road and track Ian Hallam, big brother was indeed watching. 

Stuart Hallam, Ian’s elder brother was there, road and track side for virtually all of his younger brother’s successes and is also a man who has made major contributions to the sport of cycling over the years.

Stuart Hallam
Ian Hallam during the Cleveland GP in the late70s. Photo©Stan Hilton

We thought we should catch up with, ‘Big Bruv.’

Were you interested in cycling before Ian began to demonstrate his potential on the bike? 

“Very much so, we spent all of our youth on bikes – I’m two years Ian’s senior and we’d go on 70 or 80 mile round trips on train spotting adventures, riding my Raleigh Trent Tourist.

“Then one night we discovered that the ‘youth club,’ literally at the bottom of the garden was actually a cycling club – Beeston Road Club.

“We’d go on those classic 100 mile club runs, stopping for lunch and tea – I remember having to push Ian back from them.”

Stuart Hallam
Ian Hallam’s first National Championship, the Amateur 4000 m Pursuit. With clubmate Howard Broughton (l), who went on to win several events as a pacer, and Stuart Hallam helping as usual. Presenting Ian is the great Norman Sheil, who was so much part of Ian’s career.

Did you race?

“I’m heavier built than Ian and wasn’t a bad sprinter, I won the East Midlands Junior Sprint Championship.

“But one day my sports master approached me and said; ‘Hallam, tomorrow you’re playing rugby!

“I moved up through the levels to playing for my County side and continued to play first class rugby until I was 35 years-old.

“But I’d race in the rugby off-season, May until August and held a first category licence for 10 years.”

I believe you travelled to the 1972 Munich Olympics at your own expense to support Ian in the individual and team pursuit where GB took bronze.

“Yes, there was simply no money available in the sport back then, riders had to hand back their jerseys after each competition.

“I was there for all the training they did at Leicester and up in Edinburgh on Meadowbank Velodrome; I drove everywhere, including down to Münich.

“The team was very well drilled, their changes were perfect and they were the ‘shortest’ team there, riding tight on the wheels.

“The thing that would have made the biggest difference to their performances back then if they’d had a sports psychologist with them to give them more self-belief.”

Stuart Hallam
Stuart Hallam is still enjoying his cycling today. Photo©supplied

You were present at all but two of Ian’s many championship wins across all the different disciplines?

“I didn’t really think about it, if the race was at Nottingham I just borrowed my dad’s motor bike and head off to the track.”

Were you there in San Sebastian 1973 when the GB team handed back the rainbow jerseys?

“Yes, I drove down and was present at the road championships which were held at Barcelona and which Ian rode too. 

“In a team pursuit the times are taken on the third man to finish, the Germans crashed and didn’t finish, only GB finished – but you have to remember that their coaches, Eddie Soens and Norman Sheil had immense belief in the team and felt that they would want the squad to come back and win the Worlds fair and square.

“Ian questions even now if they did the right thing in handing back the rainbow jerseys – but they were wonderfully amateur and naïve sportsmen.

“The incident did mean that a wonderful friendship was forged between the GB and German teams – Ian as a dentist actually treated Gunther Schumacher after the crash, the German having lost teeth.

“But then you look ahead to Montreal a year later when Ian punctured and crashed out in the semi-final against the Czechs who were riding round with their arms in the air after they won…”

Ian Hallam
Ian Hallam representing KP Crisps, at the Manchester GP in 1981. Photo©John Coverly

Ian turned pro with KP crisps, were you involved in that deal?

“I assisted in the presentation which Ian prepared – it was done very professionally.

“Ian had offers from Holdsworth and Viking but the salaries offered weren’t going to compensate for his loss of earnings as a dentist – the KP contract was a serious one.”