Saturday, October 27, 2012

Brian Robinson

Click on the photos to enlarge them
Brian Robinson
 Brian Robinson (1930 Huddersfield, Yorkshire) is a former British road bicycle racer. His career took place mainly during the 1950s and 1960s. He is the first British racer to finish the Tour de France and also the first to win a stage of the Tour.

 Robinson began riding with the Huddersfield Road Club at the age of 13. He joined the club as soon as he reached the minimum age of 14 years. His father and brother were already riding with the club. His father would not let him race until he was 18 year old. 

His first race was a time trial. The type of racing he wanted to do was mass start races. 

The National Cyclists' Union banned all bicycle racing on public roads in 1890. They were afraid it would cause all cyclists to not be allowed to ride on the roads. It required all mass start races to be held on tracks or closed roads such as in parks and airfields. The only races allowed on public roads were time-trials and distance and place to place record attempts. Time trials were held at the very early morning hours and very discretely. Racers were required to wear all black clothing so as not to draw much attention to themselves. The ban on mass start road races went on until the  1950s when the NCU merged with the BLRC (British League of Racing Cyclists).

Robinson raced the Route de France, the amateur version of the Tour de France, in 1952 as a member of the NCU/Army team. He was doing his national service at the time. With only three days to go he was in fifth place overall. He had a tough time in the Pyrennes and finished in 40th place. He said "I had never seen mountains like that before". At the 1952 world championships Robinson tied with Jacgues Anguetil for eighth place. 

In 1953 Brian Robinson finished his national service and joined the Ellis Briggs team as an independent or semi-professional. In 1954 he finished the Tour of Britain in 2nd place overall. 

The Hercules Bicycle Company wanted to enter a British team in the 1955 Tour de France. In 1955 the Tour de France was raced by national teams. The British team featured riders with several different sponsors. Robinson was sponsored by Hercules. Only two British riders finished the Tour de France; Brian Robinson in 29th place and Tony Hoar in last place. They were the first British racers to ever finish the Tour de France. 

Teams consisting of riders from different countries and sponsored by businesses instead of national teams were allowed to compete in the 1956 Tour de France. Robinson joined a team that had the famed climber Charley Gaul on it. Robinson finished the tour in 14th place overall and his teammate Charley Gaul finished in 13th place.

At the 1956 Vuelta a Espana Robinson finished in eighth place overall.

Brian Robinson won the 1957 edition of Milan-San Remo. This was his first win as a professional bike racer. Unfortunately at the 1957 Tour de France he crashed on wet cobblestones and injured his wrist. The wrist injury prevented him from finishing the 1957 tour.

At the 1958 Tour de France Brian Robinson became the first Briton to win a stage. He won the seventh stage. Arigo Padovan actually crossed the finish line first, but was relegated to second place for dangerous sprinting. 

Robinson won another stage of the Tour de France in 1959. This time he won the 20th stage by a margin of 20 minutes. This put him in 9th place overall in the general classification.  The next day he suffered for his stage winning efforts and finished outside of the time limit and expected to be eliminated from the race.  He was saved by the rule that any rider in the top 10 places would not be eliminated for falling outside of the time limit. At the end of the 1959 Tour de France Robinson finished in 19th place.

He finished two more Tour de Frances , 1960 and the 1961 edition, in 26th and 53rd place. Robinson won the 1961 Criterium de Dauphine Libere. 

At the age of 33 Brian Robinson retired from professional racing.

Brian Robinson at the 1961 Dauphine

Brian Robinson at the 1961 Dauphine

No comments:

Post a Comment