Found on the blog of former BLRC track and road rider Alf Buttler comes this story from the 1954 Tour of Ireland.
I was on the motorcycle and had with me a new pair of wheels that I had built complete with freewheel and tyres, we fitted these on the rear carrier with only three toe straps (very like Mavic do now for mountain stages and/or time trials in the big tours on the continent). Outside the headquarters we found the Scottish team in deep conversation near our Ariel… their manager, who we took an instant dislike to, said ‘you cannot carry them wheels its against the rules’. Where are these rules? we asked, he could not produce any. But the next day before the start of the race he got the commissionaires to get us to remove the tyres as it gave us an unfair advantage. This silly way of going on went on for at least 2 years because in the Peace Race the following year no team was able to fit a wheel complete. If a rider punctured he had to change his own tyres. This rule was changed by U.C.I for 1956
A recap of the race by Jock Wadley for The Bicycle is recorded for posterity on the excellent historical website Tour-Racing.co.uk.
Scotsman John Kennedy, riding for the Scotland team, was second on the first stage, which was won solo by Bernard Pusey, riding for the England “A” team. Kennedy kept his place on GC after stage 2, where breakaway men Shay Elliott and Stan Brittain were caught a mile from the line.
He disappears from the top 10 in the stage 3 results and given that only 15 of 108 riders finished, you can assume that if a crash or a mechanical had not ruled him out on this stage, he would have been one of the 59 abandons on a snowstorm-hit stage 6.
An R. Mackay of the Scotland was 14th on the final GC, but he wasn’t the only Scot to finish – John Burrowes of the VC Stella rounded out the classification in 15th (and last). His teammate, Ron Park was 6th, albeit 30 minutes down.
Tour-racing’s recap is a good read, including such drama as a runaway horse and cart which led to the death of a rider, the snowstorms and mass abandons, and a neutralised final stage.
These photos come courtesy of Marian Lamb of the www.cyclingulster.com federation web site, via Dany Blondeel, Founder of the Belgian Project.
Michael Nicolson wins a stage of the Tour of the North, an international stage race in Northern Ireland, last weekend. He was competing for a Scotland team that included Jack Barrett, Taylor Johnstone and Rab Wardell.
Michael won stage 3 at Magherafelt, putting him in 3rd place on GC in the 4-day event. He was 8th after the three-quarter mile prologue, two seconds back and after the 72 mile second stage had moved up 1 place. His teammates were able to help defend the time gained on stage 3 and he moved up into 2nd overall on the final day- great result.
This is just what I have been able to piece together quickly from the results sheets but there is a fuller report of the terrain and the race evolved on VeloUK.
To my delight, the Velocast is back with a music-and-cycling banter show called Velocast Race Radio. Check it out.
One of the gems of the show are the ‘this week in cycling history’ snippets from Irish fount of historical cycling trivia, Cillian Kelly. He posts good articles over at his Irish Peloton blog, but the radio snippets are something interesting and different that you won’t find elsewhere. Every week he will enlighten us with facts from cycling history, ranging from the 1880s to the 1980s. His twitter feed is also good for some really interesting facts and trivia during the big races.
In 1975, Sean Kelly, Pat McQuaid and Kieran McQuad and two Scots broke the apartheid boycot and travelled to South Africa incognito to get some winter racing miles in the Rapport Tour. If you don’t know, all sporting contact with South Africa (and trade imports and exports for that matter) was banned. This boycott was in force right up until the mid-90s and the end of Apartheid. I remember my Mum tutting when Cape and Jaffa oranges began to appear in the supermarket.
The Scots were Henry Wilbraham and John Curran – some mention of them along with other Scottish riders banned for various other transgressions are mentioned on a typically delightful misty-eyed thread on the Braveheart forum.
They were photographed by a journalist covering then A-Listers Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s second marriage. The photo of the riders alongside Burton and Taylor was published and the riders recognised. The Irish initially got 7 month bans and lifetime exclusion from Olympic competition. (although Pat McQuaid now apparently sits on the Olympic governing body)
There’s more on this story over at the Cyclismas blog. Thanks to Cillian for flagging it up.
British pro Russell Downing (Canditv – Marshalls Pasta team) won the Tour of Ireland today.
Cycling Weekly guy @lionelbirnie tweeted: “By winning Ireland Russ Downing has made it harder, politically, for BC to leave him out of the Worlds team and for Sky to ignore him.”
he then followed up with: “I can understand the likely reasons for not picking R Downing for the Worlds, but surely he could play a useful role for Team Sky?”
In my rather amateurish attempt at predictions, I wondered if domestic pros such as the Downings, Halfords Bikehut riders such as Rob Hayles, and Rapha Condor guys like British Champion Kristian House and others might make it into Team Sky.
Great to see I’m not the only one to see the merits of some of the domestic pros! Russell Downing wins crits and one-day races a-plenty. He has now got a three-day tour under his belt, and beaten some top Continental and ProTour riders in the process.
@pmshires replied: “apart from the money, I don’t see how Sky would benefit RD. He’d end up like @rog10 at Disco; under-used, & under- appreciated”
I assume pmshires is drawing a comparison with Roger Hammond, who has had numerous wins and high placings in Classics and other tough one-day races.
Downing is highly successful where doing what he is doing. Perhaps it would not suit him to be part of a team working towards the goal of a Tour de France win, when he could be winning races for his sponsors? But at the same time, a part of me wants to see one of the best domestic riders show what he can do in Europe.
The pic above was taken on the 2008 tour of Britain, about half way up the Mennock Pass. Steve Cummings attacked the yellow jersey, and Geoffroy Lequatre, Dan Martin and others are pictured trying to stay in touch with him. Cummings was later reeled in on the other side of the hill, while Edvald Boassen Hagen (2009’s Gent-Wevelgem winner) won the stage at Drumlanrig Castle.
A not-for-profit anti-doping organisation, Bike Pure, contacted me through Flickr, asking permission to use the image for Dan Martin, their supported rider, and I said OK, cos I thought it was a good cause. No £££ in it for me, but they gave me appropriate credit on the Dan Martin gallery on their site.
Changing the subject momentarily, an online bicycle shop Chain Reaction Cycles, send out a weekly email promoting products, offers, etc. You know the style. A few weeks back, I got an email about about ‘rolling back prices on wheels’…
The link to Bike-Pure about half way down the email has a pic of Garmin rider Dan Martin in it- wait a minute, that’s my pic!
I posted about this on the forum of my local bike club, and got a few sympathetic replies, and then Andy at Bike Pure noticed my grumble. He got in contact with me and offered take it up on my behalf with CRC. As yet still no response from them though.
I will keep you ‘posted’