Friday 27 September 2013

From the archive: World Road Race Championships 1958

I've been raiding my Dad's photo archive for previously unpublished shots that really shouldn't be hidden away in an attic. I've selected some that I feel help to preserve the history of the sport, especially in Ireland, but which I also feel the wider cycling world might like to see. Over the next while I'll be posting sets of photos so keep an eye out.

We've tried to correctly identify people and places but, if you spot an error or you can fill in a blank for us, please do leave a comment. Obviously, after more than 50 years, some of the shots may not be of HD quality but that doesn't take away from their historical value. Clicking on a photo will open the full set in a gallery.

This first set is from the World Championships in Reims, France in 1958.

Dad was one of four Irish spectators who journeyed to support the teams that year, a fact unusual enough to warrant mention in several newspaper articles. Accompanying with him from Dublin were his brother, Paddy, and his close friend, Brendan Tyrrell. John Flanagan, a club-mate of Christy Kimmage and Shay Elliott in Dublin Wheelers, got a weekend pass from his posting with the US Army in Germany to join them.

The Irish selectors had chosen a very young team for the amateur race. Manager Jim McQuaid, himself a 5 time participant at the Worlds, spoke to the Irish Press a few days before the race. "This will be their biggest test, but the international races here should give them a good idea of what they are up against", he said.

Irish Amateur RR Team relaxing before the World Championships, 1958, Reims.
L-to-R: Denis Whelan (Obelisk Wheelers), Peter Dowling (Antlers CC),
Bobby Talbot (East Tyrone CC),  Christy Kimmage (Dublin Wheelers CC)
Some of the team were profiled in the same article. They were:

Peter Dowling (23), Antlers CC, Dublin, who had ridden for Ireland twice before.He was selected as the reigning Irish Massed Start Champion. He had also won the Dun Laoghaire Grand Prix, the An Tostal 3 day race and was on the way to being the best all round rider in the country for 1958.

Christy Kimmage (20), Dublin Wheelers CC, has also already been selected for Ireland twice. In 1958 he had won the Dalkey Massed Start, the Dalkey Hill Climb, the 1st stage of the An Tostal and the Irish Road Clubs "50".

Denis Whelan (20), Obelisk Wheelers, Dublin, had ridden the Manx International on the Irish team. He'd broken John Lackeys record for the "Mountain Time Trial" and recorded the fastest time of the year for the Navan Rd 25 mile TT course as well taking second in the An Tostal and 3rd in the Dan Lennon Memorial race.

Irish Amateur Team, Worlds Reims 1958.
L-to-R: Christy Kimmage (Dublin Wheelers), John Flanagan (Dublin Wheelers - spectator),
Bobby Talbot (East Tyrone CC), Jim McQuaid (Emerald CC - Team Manager),
Denis Whelan (Obelisk Wheelers), Peter Dowling (Antlers CC)
The 4th rider (not profiled) was Bobby Talbot, who, along with his three brothers, raced with East Tyrone CC.

Irish team parading to the start of the World Amateur RR, Worlds Reims 1958.
L-to-R: Christy Kimmage (Dublin Wheelers), Denis Whelan (Obelisk Wheelers),
Bobby Talbot (East Tyrone CC), Peter Dowling (Antlers CC)
World Amateur RR, Reims 1958.
Start of the race, Christy Kimmage (IRL) on left.
World Amateur RR, Reims 1958. 
In the race a small group escaped from a larger nine strong break coming towards the finish. Those six riders fought out a thrilling sprint finish. It took the judges several minutes before Gustav-Adolf Schur (GDR) was declared the winner, from two Belgians, Valère Paulissen and Henri DeWolf.

Gustav-Adolf Schur (GDR) wins the World Amateur RR, Reims 1958
ahead of Valère Paulissen (BEL) and  Henri De Wolf (BEL)
It appears that the inexperience of the Irish riders showed and none were listed as finishers.

World Amateur RR, Reims, 1958.
Gustav-Adolf Schur (GDR) with his new Rainbow Jersey and bouquet.
The Women's title was won by Elsie Jacobs (LUX) who was followed home by Tamara Novikova (USSR)
and Mariya Lukshina (USSR).

World Championships, Reims, 1958
Fausto Coppi (ITA)
In the Professional race, 25 year old 2nd year pro Ercole Baldini (ITA), reigning Giro D'Italia, Italian and Olympic Champion, decided that the best strategy was to escape early and put the field under pressure.It worked!

The French team, including silver medallist Louison Bobet (second right) and bronze medallist André Darrigade (third left) parade to the start of the World Professional RR, Reims, 1958
Baldini escaped with 3 times Tour De France winner, Louison Bobet (FRA), Gastone Nencini (ITA) and Gerardus Voorting (NED) after just 12 miles of the 172 mile race. Eventually, first Voorting and then Nencini dropped away leaving the two champions to thrill the crowd with their head to head battle for the title. Meanwhile, with three laps to go, Ireland's Shay Elliott broke away from the bunch with his trade team colleague, Andé Darrigade (FRA). Unfortunately, Elliott suffered cramp and was forced to drop away from the leaders.
L-to-R: André Darrigade (FRA) and Shay Elliott (IRL)
trying to close the gap to the leaders.
World Professional RR, Reims, 1958

Louison Bobet (FRA) on the way to second place
in the World Professional RR, Riems 1958
In the end the result was:

1st Ercole Baldini (ITA) 7h 29m 32s
2nd Louison Bobet (FRA) @ 2m 08s
3rd André Darrigade (FRA) @ 3m 47s
22nd Shay Elliott (IRL) @ 7m 06s

To see the full results click here.