Brian Robinson





Palmares (Memoire du Cyclisme)

1950: 5th NCU massed-start championship, 3rd RTTC hill-climb championship
1951: equal 7th Isle of Man International, 2nd RTTC hill-climb championship, l0th NCU massed-start championship
1952: 40th Route de France, 27th Olympic road race, equal 8th World Amateur road race championship, equal 4th NCU massed-start championship, 1st RTTC hill-climb championship, 5th Isle of Man International

Independent / Professional
1953: 4th Tour of Britain (yellow jersey), 4th NCU road race championship, 5th
An Tostal Tour of Ireland
1954: 2nd Tour of Britain (+ 2nd Mountains), stage winner Tour of Europe
1955: 99th Tour de France, 4th Fleche Wallonne
1956: 14th Tour de France, 8th Vuelta d'Espana, 9th Tour of Switzerland
1957: 3rd Milan-San Remo, retired fifth stage Tour de France, 1st GP de la ville de Nice, 15th World Professional Road Race Championship, 9th
1958: 1st Stage 7, Tour de France (first GB stage winner), 5th Bordeaux-Paris
1959: 1st Stage 20, Tour de France, 19th overall
1960: 26th Tour de France, 1st British professional-independent hill-climb championship
1961: 53rd Tour de France, 1st Dauphine Libere

First Briton to Win a Tour de France Stage

Brian was seen at a National Trophy Cyclo-Cross (Bradford 9-Dec-2007) supporting his daughter Louise and it seemed appropriate to publish a brief tribute to his cycling career.

Brian Robinson (
Wikipedia entry) was born in 1930 at Mirfield, a West Yorkshire town in the Calder Valley and the “Heavy Wollen” district between Dewsbury and Huddersfield.

His father and elder brother, Des, were amateur cyclists but only Brian made his way through to the pro ranks.

And in 1958 Brian made a bit of cycling history by becoming the first British rider to win a stage of the Tour, but it wasn't as easy as that. He first had to overcome some dubious sprinting tactics from the Italian Arrigo Padovan.

With 50 kilometres covered of the 170 kilometres from Brieuc to Brest Robinson attacked alone. Frenchman Jean Dotto and Padovan joined him four kilometres later. With a lead of 1:35 and 12 kilometres to go, Robinson shook off Dotto, but couldn't get rid of non-working Padovan.

'He hadn't a smell of winning,' he recalled. 'It was a long uphill finish and I put my head down and went. I knew I was strong enough to win.' Robinson had switched from 52x14 to the 16 sprocket, then Padovan went left. Robinson attacked on the right, then Padovan forced him into the gutter.

Robinson tried this time on the left, but Padovan showed him the left-hand gutter this time. He tried again, this time on the right, but Padovan had crossed the line first.

Padovan was given the verdict, but Robinson lodged a protest. After deliberation he was given the verdict and the Italian was placed second. Britain had scored her first Tour stage win.

'My first reaction was that I needed that to live for another year. The stage was worth about £230, but I got the contracts afterwards - 20 at £40 each! I'm set for another year, I thought.'

The following year Robinson won again, but this time the 20th stage from Annecy to Chalon-sur-Saone and without the wiles of an Italian sprinter to prevent him from winning, although ironically it was Padovan who was to finish second to Robinson. The Yorkshireman finished a massive 20:06 clear, with Padovan getting the best of Frenchman Andre Darrigade, then one of the best sprint finishers in the business, in the sprint for second place.

By the end of the 13th stage Robinson was lying ninth overall, but next day he was completely shattered, finishing outside the time limit, although he was reinstated later.

'I had planned my victory three days before as I was no longer in contention for the overall classification. I had sorted out a hilly stage which came the day before the time trial which the big 'uns were preparing for. I had put my time trial wheels in and everyone thought I was crazy.

'Although we were riding in 'national' teams I had been asked by my trade team-mate Gerard Saint (
see footnote), if I would help him as it was the last day to count towards the mountains classification.

'He asked me to take him over the top of the next col after he had led up the first, but he couldn't hang on. Jean Dotto was there too and he was screaming for me to wait for him as we climbed the Echallon. I decided to drop him as the French team would be chasing. 'They caught him, but didn't bother about me.' Robinson went on to win his second stage and was to finish 19th overall.

Looking purely at the bald results does not do justice to the importance of Brian’s career and the example he set for others to follow.

Brian gave up pro-cycling in his early 30s to return the family building business. Like so many of former top British riders, Robinson never became a director sportif, manager or coach. When interviewed in 1992 his comment on this was - “I was offered the top job. I said I wanted three grand a year and full control if I was going to train them, and that I wanted the full selection rights, like they do on the Continent. I was told that Racing Committee makes the selections. I turned it down. Shame.”

Follow-up Notes -

Gerard Saint was a French racing cyclist born 11 July 1935 in Argentan, Normandy. Very slim (1.91 m and 75 kg) Saint was a complete coureur at ease on the flat, in the mountains or in a time trial. He turned professional in 1959, joining the Saint-Raphaël-Géminiani team directed by Raymond Louviot. In his first Tour de France, in 1959, he won the most combative rider award and was second in the points and third in the mountains classification. This was the only one he was to ride. He died 16 March 1960 at Mans (Sarthe) in a road accident where his Citroen DS hit a tree. His too short career was marked by many podium places. The sports stadium in Argentan still bears his name.

Update 11-Dec-2009 - Cycling Weekly website
“Brian Robinson, the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France in 1958, and make the podium in Milan-San Remo, is in hospital in Sheffield, making a slow recovery after a fall when cycling last month. Robinson, 79,  was cycling with friends when in a rare moment of inattention, he fell heavily. Detained in hospital overnight, he was released next day with ‘minor' injuries.

But he was far from well enough to attend last month's Dave Rayner Fund-raising dinner in Harrogate - Robinson is president of the Fund -  to welcome chief guests Bradley Wiggins, Russell Downing and Sir Jimmy Savile. Dinner guests signed a get-well card for their missing host, but it turned out he needed more than kind thoughts.

It was discovered he had sustained severe bruising to the groin, which led to complications, and he returned to hospital for a series of operations. When these were only partially successful he was transferred to another hospital, under the care of a specialist in this type injury.”

IMQ40245wUpdate 13-Jan-2013 - National Cyclocross Championships, Bradford
Some talk of a campaign to get Brian to be proposed to ASO as the starter of the 2014 Tour de France in Leeds.

But not sure if this idea was OK with Brian himself - and he was busy supporting Louise in the Women’s championship.

Remember When Brian Robinson Team Falcon Cycles Tour of Europe Eddy's 1969 Bike 1954 Tour of Britain Vintage Advertising 1959 Manx Premier





Remember When
Brian Robinson
Team Falcon Cycles
Tour of Europe
Eddy's 1969 Bike
1954 Tour of Britain
Vintage Advertising
1959 Manx Premier
Cycling Books
ICS Magazine
Race Programmes