Former Eurosport cycling commentator and industry figure David Duffield has died, aged 84.
The news was broken by current Eurosport commentator Carlton Kirby. On Twitter Kirby wrote: “Just heard my dear friend David Duffield has died. He passed away this morning following injuries sustained in a heavy fall. Saddest of news.”
Duffield worked as a race commentator for Eurosport for many years – he had a dedicated following. He was also a champion tricyclist, an early adopter of the Moulton, and later worked for both Raleigh and Halfords.
In 1962 it was Duffield who proved that the Moulton was a true performance machine by breaking the Cardiff to London speed record, completing the ride of 162 miles in 6 hours 42 minutes.
"Duffers" also had a connection with one of the most famous cycling-related songs ever, Queen's Bicycle race
Queen released the now-classic song in 1978 – it has become the go-to song used by TV soundtrack researchers when adding music to a bike-related bit of telly. The B-side to ‘Bicycle Race’ was ‘Fat Bottomed girls.’ The single featured a pic of a nude woman riding a bicycle. Later versions of the single were released with her bottom badly covered up with pre-Photoshop panties.
The songs were included on Queen’s ‘Jazz’ album, which featured little stick-men cyclists, racing across the base of an optical-illusion style image. This album shipped with a famous poster of 65 nude women cyclists.
A photo spread from the shoot appeared in The Sun, and both the original poster and the tabloid homage were – in less enlightened times – bike workshop favourites. And, there’s a bike trade back story involving Duffield. In 1978 he was the marketing manager at Halfords. He set up the Jazz photoshoot for Queen. He supplied 65 Halfords road bikes. Queen’s production company supplied the nude models, and organised for Wimbledon stadium to be the backdrop.
Some years ago Terry Harris, who later become a rep for Greyville Enterprises, told BikeBiz.com:
“I was working in the production/sales office and the bikes used were the Halfords International model.
“The driver still tells the story of the day he went to the stadium to deliver the bikes and then all the models came out in bath robes, then derobed and got on their bicycles for the photographs.”
Contrary to the urban myth that Halfords refused to take the bikes back or that the bike’s saddles were removed for, ahem, later use, Harris said:
“The bikes came back to the factory and were checked over and put back into stock.”
This story was confirmed to BikeBiz.com by Duffield (on numerous occasions), and it was also a favourite anecdote of his during TV commentary.
The photo at the top of this article is of Duffield at a stage of the Tour de France – he's wearing the club tie of the Pickwick Bicycle Club, the world's oldest cycling club. Duffield's sobriquet in this club was Mr Ayresleigh.
Eurosport UK commented on Twitter: "The news of David Duffield's passing is news we can't quite comprehend. The voice of cycling for many years, and a true gentleman. RIP D.D."