In 1955, Brian Robinson became the first Englishman to complete the Tour de France. At a book launch in London last night, author Graeme Fife regaled the audience with tales of Robinson's other firsts.
Now 80, and still riding (a flat-bar Giant hybrid), Robinson is a familiar figure on the roads of the Peak District. In the 1950s he was one of the first Brits to really take to the professional racing circuit in Europe, pioneering the way for riders such as Tom Simpson. Brit pro riders of today often still cite Robinson as an inspiration.
In the first biography of Robinson, Tour de France author Graeme Fife has had close access to Robinson and his papers. The biography - entitled 'Brian Robinson: Pioneer' - was launched at Look Mum No Hands in London last night.
After completing the 1955 Tour de France, Robinson went on to make a career as a professional cyclist in what is generally regarded as one of the toughest eras in a very tough sport. He adapted to French life, the continental style of racing and the taxing demands of a long season.
'Brian Robinson: Pioneer' is published by Mousehold Press, has a foreword by Phil Liggett and costs £17.95.
"Brian was too often nice and generous, however, underneath he was a tough cyclist from Yorkshire and the first British rider to beat the continental riders at their own game," said Liggett.