Tag Archives: Brian Smith

Brian Smith: surviving the Giro 1994

Brian Smith is a two-time British road race champion and rode for Motorola in 1994. He now provides analysis on pro cycling for Eurosport and other channels. I spoke to him to find out his memories of riding the 1994 edition, and how he survived to finish the race.

Brian Smith – British champion in 1994 for Motorola, picture taken by TAimages.com, used with permission.

I asked Brian if a good showing in the spring season was integral to his selection for Motorola for the 1994 Giro. He had supported the then-world champion Lance Armstrong at Classics such as Amstel Gold and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and took a win himself at the Grand Prix Herning in Denmark.

There was a battle in the team, because Lance was world champion and he wanted things his way, and Hampsten was towards the end of his career, and was looking for people to help him. I think showing up with a win like that (in Denmark) I think that did gain me selection for the Giro, although I thought I merited it myself. It was always a constant battle to get into the right races, even before that, before Amstel, I did gain selection for Fleche Wallone and Liege but was unable to ride because I was sick.

It was always a battle to get into the Grand Tours, even the Tour de France that year, because of the job I did for Andy Hampsten at the Giro, then becoming national champion for the second time, I found myself first reserve for the Tour de France. They asked me to ride the Tour de Suisse which was two weeks after the Giro but in the end I never got the chance to ride it.

When you got the selection, was it a feeling of elation to ride your first Grand Tour, or was it something you were expecting, due to the form you had?

Obviously I was happy to get the selection but it had been talked about at the start of the year, that that was a main race that Andy was going to ride, so I half-expected it but it was never confirmed to me. One of the main preparations for the Giro was the Tour of Romandie, and I never got selected for that team, so then it had me thinking. I took my opportunities, I went to the Grand Prix Herning in Denmark and I wasn’t having to ride for someone, because a lot of domestiques don’t get the opportunities, and I took it with both hands. It worked well for me.

Into the Giro that year, I started at the bottom. As you know, the best staff look after the best riders, and the less experienced staff look after the newbies and the domestiques, so it took me probably a week into the Giro, and the next minute the top guy was massaging me, I was on his list. I asked him the question “why are you massaging me?” and he told me that the powers that be in the team, i.e I think, Andy Hampsten , had said “he has helped me a lot, I wouldn’t be in this postion without him, so we need to look after him”.

The support role to Hampsten- was that carrying bottles and riding alongside, or was there anything more specific?

Most of it was positioning and looking after Andy. Even in the last week of the Giro he put me and Michel Dernies (a Belgian domestique) in a position where we had to race for our life to get back on and think that if we hadn’t got back on, we wouldn’t have finished the Giro.

Andy was a person who needed to stop for a natural break, and I remember one day – the race started at the Lauteret climb and went towards Briancon [stage 21].

Giro d'Italia 1994
Giro d’Italia 1994, image by Pat Carroll, Velo Veneto

We were coming down Les Deux Alpes (in the neutral section) and he stopped at the bottom, and we had to stand there and wait, and fortunately Michel stayed with us, normally it was just me. We got him going, and started towards the bunch and a lot of the directors were shouting at us that the race had already started, so myself and Michel Dernies got him to within 100m of the back of the group and he jumped us and got across the last bit, and me and Michel were in no-man’s-land, dropped on the Lauteret.

We managed to catch a couple of riders, Giovanni Lombardi and Davide Bramati from Lampre at the time (Bromati is a DS with Omega Pharma – Quick Step), and one other rider, and we chased the whole way. We were in the cars for the next 30 or 40km and I managed to climb the Mont Genevre and got back on with Michel. Then it started snowing, and Alvaro Mejia was another climber on the team, and Alvaro was struggling. Andy said he was fine so he went on, and myself and Michel stayed to try to nurse Alvaro to the finish. He was a Colombian rider, who had finished 4th in the Tour de France the year before, so we had to help him.

We went up Sestriere, down the other side and then back up Sestriere and finished in 2cm of snow at the finish. For me that was one of the hardest stages, having spent the pretty much the whole stage helping someone or chasing to get back on.

When I look back on it, if I hadn’t had chased and got back on [I wouldn’t have finished], I know many riders had climbed off that year, I think there was about 99 finishers. In 1994 there were no rest days- it was 22 stages in 21 days. The rest days for me were the time trials.

I can remember the time trial up the Passo Del Bocco [Stage 18], I was in 39×23 for most of it and I think for anyone to ride that gear up a climb, that’s not a rest day.

Brian Smith Giro d'Italia 1994

For me there were specific stages, where I thought “if I can get myself over this climb, you’ll make it to the finish”, but the major day for me looking back on it was in the last week of the race , twice up Sestriere in the snow, having to stop with Andy, getting dropped earlier on, having to chase and having to look after Alvaro. That was the day I realised I was lucky, and I got round the Giro.

You mentioned that a lot of guys climbed off, and we know now, looking back on it, that around that time the pace of the peloton was beginning to be enhanced so it’s a good achievement to have stuck it out.

I think what a lot of people don’t realise is that at that time, the Motorola team were a clean team – bread and water, and I don’t have any problems saying this. When I looked at the teams and the riders [ie of the other teams competing],I thought, I will be OK here. Even on the first stage there was a big crash because of the speed they were going round the corners at. I remember going round the corners on the first stage and my wheels were actually skipping round, we were going so fast.

Moreno Argentin 94 Giro

It was when the Gewiss team, we used to call the Gee-Whizz team, were on the front, with Bjarne Riis and Berzin and all these guys, that was when a lot of big questions were being asked. 1994 was the year that Pantani won two stages in the last week, Indurain went there to try to do the triple- the Giro, the Tour and the World Championship, and even he was blown away by Berzin and Pantani that year. The racing was just, phew, there were probably 40 or 50 guys who were head and shoulders above everyone else. The grupetto that year was probably 60-strong and that was a big grupetto. We were the real race, and the other riders in front were just killing it. The thing is, I don’t think that there has been a Giro that I have known that hasn’t had a rest day.

Pantani 94 Giro

There were guys outclimbing me – OK, I had a job to do which was to get Andy to the front, ride the first 2 or 3km of a climb and then pull off to the side and let him go on – but there were people in that group who weren’t climbers, they were sprinters with big legs. It was a wee bit demoralising for me, the Giro in 94, because I thought I would be OK and everything would be fine. But it’s only looking back on it now that you see the performance enhancing drugs that were evident in the early 90s, although it is speculation. I look at it now and I think I wish it was 94 again, so I could get a ride and perform.

Someone taped the television coverage and sent it to my Dad, and he saw a few glimpses of me, as well as finishing in Milan, and he took that to his grave, that his boy rode the race. My mother and father were cyclists, who used to tour every year in Italy for a month, so for me to ride the Giro was a great privilege and an honour for them.

Despite the regrets it was a good achievement, there are positives there. But Hampsten was 10th and was he let go by Motorola and you too?

Andy was a former Giro winner and he finished 10th, and he turned round to me and said ‘I can’t compete now with these guys’. It was a new era of cycling, as we look back on it now with the Lance Armstrong thing and other things that have come out. It was definitely the start of a new era. Looking back on it I am proud to have finished the Giro and proud to have helped Andy, but at the end of the day, sponsors are sponsors and 10th wasn’t good enough, so Andy had to look for another team, and unfortunately he wasn’t a big enough name to take me with him and I had to fend for myself.

The Giro is a special race and I have still got a lot of passion for it. I’d love to have ridden the Tour but for me, the history, the passion – the Giro will always hold something in my heart.

Brian Smith finished 95th @ 3hr 22min 35sec with 99 of the 153 riders finishing the race.

1994 Giro on Bikeraceinfo
1994 Giro on Wikipedia

Brian Smith’s views on the Giro

Brian Smith was a two-time British road race champion and rode for Motorola in 1994. He now provides analysis on pro cycling for Eurosport and other channels. I spoke to him before the start of the Giro d’Italia to find out his thoughts for the 2013 edition.

Hi Brian. I’m not much of a pundit – is ‘Wiggins v Nibali’ too simplistic a way to look at the GC battle or do you think it will come down to those two guys?

I think it is very much looking that way. With Wiggins it is all about calculations, he has looked at the parcours through his coach Tim Kerrison and they reckon he can do the double. He’s going to the Giro d’Italia to win it, that’s obvious.

I know Wiggins, and he wants to be a legend within our sport. Last year he won the Tour, which made history in the UK, and he won another Gold medal, but he wants to be known as a legend in the sport, that’s what inspires him. He wants to win the Giro and the Tour, and I don’t think that has been done since Stephen Roche in 1987. He looks at history and that’s what motivates him.

I think the tifosi will be behind Nibali and will do what they can to crack Wiggins, I think it goes back to the Vissentini – Roche thing. (in 1987 where Roche ended up riding against his team leader, and was attacked by the Italian fans) I think Wiggins is not so strong mentally and that the tifosi know that, and even the press will try to put pressure on him, so he will have to stay focused. If he thinks he can go to the Giro and have it easy then he has another thing coming. I think there will be so much more pressure on him.

There is a team time trial, which Sky are very good at, and Sky will probably take the jersey there. With the parcours, it is set up for Wiggins to take the pink jersey at the first time trial, either the team time trial or on stage 8. This will mean that Nibali can sit back and Hesjedal can sit back and let Sky do all the work.

The last few days of the Giro are very very hard and that is where there is a weakness in Wiggins if he is attacked. The Italians are very proud and you will get combines- people will ride to help Nibali and hinder Wiggins, and Wiggins will have to have a really strong team. If he can keep the team strong together then he can win the Giro.

Remember, Uran was 7th last year and best young rider and now he has to ride for another person. He was maybe thinking he would have his opportunity. For Sky to win the Giro, the team have to really pull together because they will be up against it. My experience of this race is that the Italians stick together. They will combine together to try to make sure there will be an Italian winner.

There is no doubt it will be a great race, I love the Giro. Anything can happen, it is a very difficult race but this test is probably bigger than the Tour de France last year for Wiggins.

My thanks to Brian for taking the time to share his thoughts – this is a brief view on this year’s Giro but I hope to bring you some more substantial insights soon, covering his own memories of riding the Giro in 1994.

Brian Smith’s 1994 GP Midbank

1994 was the European year for Brian Smith, riding with Motorola.

Ultimately the year was disappointing as Brian was cast aside after only one season, meaning his European career was short lived. Lance Armstrong and Co began to rise to the challenge of the unnaturally rising speeds of the peloton, and and the rest is history, much of which was recently erased from the record books.

But Brian opened 1994 with a fine win at the GP Herning (also known as the GP Midbank) in Denmark, in April, which was Motorola’s first win in Europe. This was important, as the American sponsor, a rare thing in European cycling at the time, needed to make a quick impact.

Brian described the day to me as ‘mad but a great race!’ A springtime event, it was dogged by rain at the start, before the 200 riders were sent the wrong way, and later held back by cows on the road, not to mention the challenge of wind and with rough surface sectors.

Pictures were hard to come by, 1994 was shortly before internet news became prevalent. I’d like to see what the cycling magazines of the time had to say about the race. However the image below cropped up:

I looked on Danish wikipedia and got the following summary translated: The Scot, who entered the day before the race, won when he beat Carl Christian Pedersen (Kalle) in a sprint. Kalle claimed that he didn’t hear the bell for the last lap, so he didn’t start his sprint until too late.
Sounds like an excuse to me!

After Brian’s year with Motorola was not extended, the race was won from 1996 to 1998 by Bjarne Riis, riding for Team Telekom. Say no more!

2012 GP Herning cancelled due to lack of sponsor

Café stop: Corrieris, Stirling

Corrieris Cafe was featured as an unusual ‘pick of the week’ on the Velocast podcast a while ago, and ever since then I have been meaning to give the place some proper blog love. It was mentioned by Scot Tares of Skinny Tyres today, which reminded me.

It’s a Scots-Italian cafe to the north of Stirling, on the Causewayhead roundabout, and is very much worth a visit, especially if you are a cyclist. The coffee is excellent, and the food ranges from cakes and ice creams to high-quality pasta and pizzas.

Seen today: 1985 Ferrari 208 turbo

For years the cafe has put up prize money for the Corrieris Classic, a local 10 mile time trial traditionally run by the Denny Road Club. In 2010 this event will be put on by Stirling BC, further strengthening the ties between the club and the cafe. Stirling ends most of its road runs at Corrieris – between 12:30 and 1:30 on a Saturday you’ll be sure to find a number of cyclists in there – come along or avoid as you prefer.

Corrieri's is a cycling friendly cafe

In addition to the great fare and cyclist-friendly atmosphere there are some nice touches. A big portrait of Fausto Coppi in the mountains hangs on the wall in the airy, bright back room, while tucked away above the serving area hangs three jerseys: a Motorola jersey with a photo and Giro start sheet signed by Scotland’s own Brian Smith, a Carrera jersey signed by Claudio Chiapucci, and a maglia rosa signed by Paolo Savoldelli.

Brian Smith interviews

12 months ago, when I started looking into the top Scottish Cyclists of all time, someone asked incredulously: “how can you forget Brian Smith!”. Being relatively new to road cycling, I had never heard of him- but after realising he completed the Giro d’Italia, won the British Road race championship (twice), and finished a few classics, it became obvious pretty quickly that he is the one of the best riders Scotland has had. Although now in retirement, Brian continues to have a big influence on cycling in Scotland forward via the Braveheart fund, which supports young talented riders.

By Alastair Hamilton on PEZ cycling news: covering his career, some moving thoughts on Jason McIntyre’s death, some background to the Braveheart fund, and comments on riders such as Gianni Bugno, Freddy Maertens, Cadel Evans and his father Don Smith.

By Ed Hood for the Braveheart fund: focusing on Brian’s 1994 season, which was a big year with a ride on Motorola, the Giro d’Italia with Andy Hampsten, Sean Yates and a young Lance Armstrong, but not shying away from the tough reality of life as a pro, fighting for contracts.

Finally Brian Palmer on the washing machine post centres largely on the present: life after retirement with cycling.tv, the Braveheart fund, and the Tour of Britain.

© Graham Watson, used with permission

The PruTour prologue, Stirling 1998

May 1998, Stirling. A brave beginning for the PruTour, formerly the Kellog’s Tour and now the revived Tour of Britain.

I frequently see the PruTour referred to as ill-fated — it ran for only two editions. The names of the Festina and Linda McCartney teams on the start sheet certainly make for ominous reading. The Linda McCartney team went on to fold in 2001 due to financial problems but later that summer, cycling was rocked by the biggest scandal it has ever known when the extent of the doping culture was blown wide open with the Festina affair.

Stuart O'Grady at 1998 PruTour prologue time trial

This preview article in The Independent highlights Chris Boardman’s concerns over a lack of form ahead of the race. He needn’t have worried- he won the prologue and the overall. The piece also gives a useful breakdown of the teams and riders involved.

George Hincapie was second in the prologue, 1.7 seconds behind. “The last hill was sheer hell. It was difficult to judge your pace and leave something in reserve for the last 200 metres.” Having ridden this hill I know just what he is talking about — the gradient doesn’t seem hard, but rounding the corner to the final cobbled section up to the esplanade, it really begins to bite.

Richard Moore, now better known for his book In Search of Robert Millar, rode the race as part of a Scottish Team with Brian Smith. Without going into detailed quotes, they didn’t fare well. May 1998 was not a time to look forward for Scottish Cycling. Luckily we are booming again with a thriving amateur scene, representation (of sorts) on the ProTour and a strong new challenge at Pro Continental level with Endura Racing.

Robert, whose picture I blogged recently gave me his memories of the day: “It was a brilliant day for cycling and I was very impressed at the turnout of spectators. It was very free and easy and you could photograph the riders easily. Unfortunately I missed Chris Boardman who was
powering up over the cobbles, sitting down, steady as a rock while my camera was switched off. I then went down to the bottom of King Street to see the Gan team’s bikes and they all came out of the campervan as I was studying them. Stuart O’Grady came over and said hello. I think they were just making sure I was going to pinch one.”

Further reading
Preview from The Herald
Report from The Scotsman
New York Times – focus on Boardman after the prologue

Pic of the day: Brian Smith and Chris Boardman

image by Steve Fleming, via Flickr

image by Steve Fleming, via Flickr

Chris Boardman and Brian Smith, climbing and attacking on the Tour of Lancashire in 1993.

The photographer, Steve Fleming, said: It was the Tour of Lancashire and they are on the slopes of Jeffery Hill near Longridge. Boardman is about to attack on the last section to the summit and descend down to Ribchester. Boardman then did a solo into Blackburn to take the stage and the overall lead. This was the defining race that set him on his way to continental pro racing.

Dave Haygarth also commented: “I remember this stage – Boardman had just become a big star in the UK and it was clear by this race he was destineed to become an overseas pro. I think the climb is Waddington Fell or the Northern side of the Nick o’ Pendle, from memory.”

Picture of the day: Brian Smith riding for Motorola

Brian Smith, image © Graham Watson

Brian Smith, image © Graham Watson

Brian Smith riding in the 1994 Het Volk classic for Motorola, a team that included Andy Hampsten as leader and a young Lance Armstrong.

Click the image to read an interview between Cyclosport and Brian, focusing on the annual Braveheart Dinner, which raises money for the Braveheart Fund, to support young Scottish elite cyclists.

Brian is #7 on my Top 10 Scottish Cyclists of All Time.

Picture of the Day: Brian Smith National Champ

Brian Smith – Motorola, picture taken by TAimages.com, used with permission.

Brian Smith, of Motorola, sporting the National Road Race champion’s jersey, at Harworth, near Doncaster in 1994. It was the second time he won the National championship, also having won in 1991.

Brian Smith is #7 on my Top 10 Scottish Cyclists of All Time.

one of the top Scottish cyclists of all time

My Top 10 Scottish cyclists of all time

I thought it would be interesting to try to compile my Top 10 Scottish cyclists of all time, after being inspired by a podcast called the Two Johns, during an episode where they discussed a Top 10 list of American cyclists.

My main criteria for this list are achievements on the international stage- be that Grand Tours, Olympic Games, World Championships or Commonwealth Games. This has been deemed by some as a limiting factor- favouring racing cyclists. But after all, isn’t racing a way to measure greatness? Anyway, some acknowledgment has been given to Scotland’s touring greats, but I doubt if I will please everyone.

In addition to medals and results, other Scottish qualities are also valued, including: hard work, innovation, determination against bigger, stronger opponents, honesty, and other “underdoglike” traits such as riding well but not winning, or being a contender for a big victory.

As ever, this type of list is never definitive, all about opinions, and really just a bit of fun. Please feel free to comment.

10. Jason McIntyre
Jason McIntyre
Jason McIntyre’s achievements came in the face of adversity, and this often typifies Scottish sport. Tragically his career was cut short by a fatal road accident, which ended his life just as his career was belatedly taking off. 10th spot in my list could have gone to any number of riders, but I give it to Jason for the way he battled back from hardship in his personal life to become a National champion in his 30s, achieved so much from a relatively remote base in the highland, with little support, and looked to have much more to offer before his career was cut short.

15th Commonwealth games road race 2002
first Scot to win the British 25-Mile Championship- 2006 and 2007
Beat Graeme Obree’s 10 mile TT record – the mark of 18m 47s still stands (2017)
Tour of the Trossachs 50 mile TT – great write-up here on Pez

9. Mark Beaumont

Record breaking cyclist Mark Beaumont and THE bike

Mark Beaumont’s 2008 round the world record- 18,297 miles (29,446 km) in 194 days and 17 hours- is sometimes hotly debated as a cycling achievement, but for me it embodies the ultimate in the cycle touring tradition.

For some it is a feat of logistics as much as cycling, but consider this- 100 miles a day for nearly 200 days, in all weathers and conditions. Carrying 30-4kg of equipment. Unsupported. Logistics is naturally a challenging part of this feat, but then logistics is a part of any cycle tour, or even a road race. The team support for the Tour de France is a vital part

He didn’t just cycle around the world at a leisurely pace. He did it faster than anyone else, ever, smashing the previous record by 80 days. Beaumont took the round-the-world to another level, and it is being attempted in 2009 by another cyclist,

Compare this to Ellen McArthur, who sailed round the world in record time- an achievement that necessitated overcoming logistical problems as well as supreme endurance. The world sailing circumnavigation record is a prized goal, but for some reason, the cycling equivalent was not. Beaumont’s record has taken this event to the next level, and I’d say Beaumont is the McArthur of the cycling world, and his feat should be recognised more prominently.

Mark’s record was subsequently beaten several times, and in 2017 he is embarking on a new round the world record – in just 80 days.

8. Craig Maclean

spitting blood

Craig Maclean raced, and won, at the top of the track scene for several years in the late 90s and early 00s. As such he will always be in Hoy’s shadow somewhat, but with Ross Edgar he was part of a formidable Scottish team sprint team at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. His other medals include UCI Gold and Olympic Silver- Craig was a very strong rider and a consistent performer for many years.

Gold Team Sprint 2002 UCI World Track Championships
Gold Team Sprint 2006 Commonwealth Games (Scotland)
Silver Team Sprint 2000 Sydney Olympics
Silver Team Sprint 1999, 2000 UCI World Track Championships
Bronze Team Sprint 2001, 2003, 2004 UCI World Track Championships
1st place: various individual and team sprints events, British National and World Cup series level.

Read about Craig Maclean’s achievements within Chris Hoy’s autobiography.
He is also part of the rise of British track cycling recounted the in Heroes, Villains and Velodromes book.

7. Brian Smith

Brian Smith, image © Graham Watson

Brian Smith, image © Graham Watson

Brian Smith won the 1991 British professional road race championship (his first pro season) and went on to complete the 1994 Giro d’Italia for Motorola, on a team that included Andy Hampsten and a young Lance Armstrong. Internationally he represented Scotland at the 1984, 1990 and 1998 Commonwealth Games and Britain at the 1996 Atlanta Games. He also won races in the USA for Plymouth Racing Team.

He continues to have an influence in the Scottish cycling world through the Braveheart Cycling Fund, which supports young Scottish riders of all disciplines. A worthy cause- I look forward to seeing the next Scot challenging for the Tour de France!

Selected palmares
3 Commie Games ’86, ’90 + ’98
Twice GB PRO Champ ’91 + ’94 (2nd ’92 +’93)
1994 GP Midbank first European victory for Motorola CT

6. Billy Bilsland
Billy Bilsland, Peugeot-BP
A stellar international amateur career ensued with stage victories in The Tour of Czechoslovakia, the Peace Race, the Tour de l’Avenir, the Scottish Milk Race and the Milk Race. He rode the 1968 Olympics, making it into the winning break until a puncture ended dreams of a medal. -He recounts his 14th place in the 1971 world championship road race in an interview here.
He raced for three years as a pro with Peugeot, finishing 11th in Paris – Tours and 10th in the Tour of Lombardy. Making it on the continent in those days was not easy- as Ken Laidlaw, Robert Millar and Graeme Obree could attest to.
After retiring, he set up a bike shop, which his son now runs.

Other palmares
2nd British national road race 1974
3rd British national road race 1973

Bilsland was part of an early generation of British cyclist to make forays into Europe.
The best account of it is William Fotheringham’s book, Roule Britannia.

5. Ken Laidlaw

Ken Laidlaw, Scotland.

Laidlaw is somewhat of a forgotten man of Scottish cycling. He is not frequently mentioned, but finishing the world’s greatest bike race is a big achievement in itself. From a British point of view, this might sound like a ‘plucky loser’ tag, but it isn’t. Over the Channel, the French afford considerable respect to the last man- the Lanterne Rouge- because to finish the Tour is such a feat.

Ken was interviewed in 2004 by a local newspaper in Savannah, Georgia. Re gave an account of the 1961 TdF, and what racing was like then. “In my tour, we averaged 139 miles a day – flat out”. In those days, the tour was 800 miles longer than it is today.” Without the nutrition, sports science and bike technology of today, it would have been significantly more difficult. Interview is reblogged here.

Selected palmares:
First Scot to finish the Tour de France 1961.
Most aggressive rider of the day during stage 16 1961- led the stage but fell back with 7km to go to finish 19th. 65th place overall- only 72 of the 132 riders finished.

6th Briton to finish the Tour?  ref

Ken Laidlaw is also mentioned in William Fotheringham’s book, Roule Britannia.

4. David Millar

Commonwealth Games | Glasgow 2014 - Cycling Time Trial (Men)

David Millar’s career as a whole must be viewed in the context of the 2-year ban he received in 2004 for admitting the use of EPO. However his honesty and determination to spread an anti-doping message have set him apart from other banned riders, and he is now seen as an ambassador for clean cycling. For me, he took the punishment and then went on to make significant amends- not only being outspoken, but working with WADA, and helping to establish a stringently clean, independently-tested team in Slipstream.

Although the suspension does tarnish his reputation, he won Grand Tour stages and races before and after it and these results still put him amongst the most successful Scottish cyclists of all time. He was the youngest ever holder of the yellow jersey in 2000. It is tempting to ‘relegate’ him a place or two for the doping, but I feel his anti-doping work have made up for it, and even the non-doped results are still stronger than any other Scottish road racer.

There is a slight question over his Scottishness though- he was born in Malta, and has lived in Hong Kong, England and Spain. His parents are Scottish and he was selected (but did not compete) for Scotland in the 2002 Commonwealth Games. He is generally known as a Scot (as listed as Scottish on the Garmin-Slipstream site, and frequent media references). I would be very interested to know his personal feelings towards Scotland and whether he has a connection to the place.

Tour de France 1 stage win: 2000 stage 1. (2 stage wins during doping period? 2002 stg 13, 2003 stg 19)
Vuelta a Espana 2 stage wins: 2006 stage 14, 2009. (2 stage wins during doping period? 2001 stg 1, 2003 stg 17)
UK Time Trial champion and Road Race champion 2007
Tour of California 2008- 2nd place overall.
various other palmares

David Millar has published two books:
Racing Through the Dark – establishing his career, doping, and subsequent renewal
The Racer – an inside look at the life of a bike racer

3. Graeme Obree
Graeme Obree

The value of Graeme Obree‘s achievements is heightened by the fact that he undertook them as an amateur and in the face of great adversity. For me this embodies the Scottish underdog spirit. He broke the hour record and won world pursuit championships on a bike he designed and built himself, and in the face of obstruction from the UCI. He overcame personal problems to achieve these results and as such, is an inspiration to cyclists and people everywhere.

After the records, he entered the pro cycling world at the height of the doping era. When he refused to take anything, he was unceremoniously dumped- a great shame that we did not get a chance to see more of him.

Now in 2009, he has announced he will attempt the hour record again. As before, he has pushed the bounds of innovation and created his own bike, to meet the UCI regulations but to match his riding style. He has massive gear ratios, a custom hand position, but traditional frame and wheels. Good luck Graeme!

Selected palmares:
World hour record: twice holder, in 1993 and 1994. Beat a nine-year record held by all-time great Francesco Moser. Beaten first by Chris Boardman, before regaining the record and then Miguel Indurain.
Individual pursuit (4000m) world champion 1993 and 1995.
British 10mile Time Trial record holder- 18:57.

Graeme Obree’s autobiography is an honest and dark account of his struggles and triumphs
Ed Pickering’s book, The Race Against Time, focuses on the Obree-Boardman hour record rivalry
His training manual, The Obree Way, shows you specific advice and ways to think outside the box.
His wife has also published a book, Mrs Flying Scotsman, recounting the highs and lows during their time together.

2. Sir Chris Hoy

Chris Hoy

Track champion Chris Hoy’s three gold medals on the track at Beijing 2008 speak for themselves. 3 golds at a games is was the best medal haul for any Brit, for over 100 years. This is before you mention his numerous world championship medals at the kilo, the team sprint and the keirin. And his valiant attempt at the outright kilo world record, where he came up 0.005 seconds short at altitude in La Paz in 2007. He has simply dominated short-track racing for almost the past decade. And he made it look so easy.
Good luck for 2012 Sir Chris, we’ll be rooting for you.

[2015 – edit – Chris Hoy continued to win with 2 gold medals in 2012. He set a new World Record in the team sprint and his performance to win the keirin is one of the most outstanding performances I have ever seen, making him the most decorated British Olympian of all time. I’d put him #1 if I was rewriting this list today]

Chris Hoy’s autobiography charts his start in BMX racing through to his olympic success.
Chris Hoy also now writes the Flying Fergus series of children’s books.

Watch Hoy win 2012 keirin gold on olympics youtube channel

The Olympics Youtube Channel shows Sir Chris Hoy winning his 6th gold medal of his career in the keirin at London 2012, becoming the most decorated British Olympian of all time

1. Robert Millar

Robert Millar, Kellogg's Crit in Glasgow, early 1980s

Robert Millar’s King of the Mountains win, and his fourth overall place in the 1984 Tour de France puts him ahead of any other Scottish (or even British) cyclist, so for those two achievements, he is the #1. But he also has three Tour stage wins to his name, as well a Giro and a Vuelta stage win. He might have won the Vuelta a Espana, had Spanish riders (of different teams) not worked together against him to preventing him retaining his time advantage in the GC.

Millar is known an enigmatic and elusive character. It is the stubborness of this quality (also displayed in several of Scotland’s other top cyclists) which afforded him the single-minded determination to succeed in the sometimes unwelcoming world of European cycling. His achievements and subsequent disappearance are recounted by Richard Moore in his book, In Search of Robert Millar.

Tour de France
3 stage wins
KOM winner 1984 Tour De France (first time a Briton had won a major Tour classification)
4th overall 1984 Tour De France (highest Tour classification of any British rider, ever)

Giro D’Italia
1 stage win
KOM winner 1987
2nd overall 1987.

Vuelta a Espana
1 stage win.
2nd overall in 1985 and 1986
KOM winner 1987

Evan Oliphant, currently a pro in the british peloton, is going well and can progress further. He was three-time Scottish road race champion riding for Plowman Craven although he has recently switched team to Scottish-based Endura Racing (June 2009).

Ian Steel was a Glaswegian rider who won international recognition as winner of the Warsaw-Prague road race (Peace Race 1952?), and he also won the Tour of Britain in 1951, including three stages, and the British National Road Race championship in 1962.

Jackie Bone of the Glasgow Wheelers acquired national fame when he became the first British cyclist to attain an average speed of more than 20 mph in a 12-hour race. Jackie also rode as a member of the British team in the road race at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

George Berwick is another great in the touring/randonneur tradition, and although not a racer with competitive palmares to his name, he still holds numerous records for touring routes and annual mileage totals.

Tommy Chambers– cycle touring great who would ride 18,000 miles a year, and was once credited in the Guinness Boook of Records.

Davie Bell, pioneering off road cyclist and tourer/randonneur extreme, and for years had one of Scotland’s toughest one-day races held annually in his honour. David Bell’s The Highyway Man cycling column, was published as a book that is now difficult to find. His articles were originally published in the Ayrshire Post, and subsequently published as a book in the 1970s.

Ross Edgar, a prolific track racer who also represented Scotland but was born and lives in England.
Silver: Keirin 2008 Beijing Olympics, Team Sprint 2007 UCI world champs; Bronze Keirin 2007 UCI world champs; Gold 2006 Team Sprint Commonwealth Games.

Caroline Alexander, born in Lancashire but represented Scotland. Good palmares, and the only mountain biker in and around this list- strange with the quality of Scotland’s trails.
British National Mountain Bike Champion (XC) 6 times, 1995 European Cross Country Champion, 1998 British National Cyclo-cross Champion, 2nd UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Series 2 times (according to wikiP).