Brian Robinson

This remarkable image capturing the true spirit of LeTour has been created by Artist James Straffon for the 100 day cultural festival of Yorkshire. The original production hangs outside The Factory building at Poliform North in Harrogate’s town centre and 200mtrs from the finish line of day one The Grand Depart Yorkshire.  To withstand the Yorkshire climate, the original 8 images are produced in a high quality polymeric self-adhesive vinyl. Finished with an exterior grade satin laminate. Mounted onto a premium grade 3mm thick aluminium composite. Complete with print wrapped edges giving a superior finish with longevity. Its dimensions are in two parts each part being 1250mm x2500mm and totalling 2500mm x 2500mm face fixed with coach bolts.

Original set of 8 @ 2500mm x 2500mm are to be auctioned on Saturday 5th July to raise funds for The Dave Rayner foundation and Yorkshire Air Ambulance.  To register your interest or to place a bid, please contact sag@stephenneall.co.uk.

These creations can also be purchased in the following formats:
2500mm x 2500mm signed originals £ by auction.
1500mm x 1500mm signed Limited Edition of 5.
400mm x 500mm signed limited edition of 9 Framed stencils.
T-shirts in white with multiple image panel.

Robinson’s grew up during the Second World War, which began when he was eight years old. Robinson rode with the Huddersfield Road Club at 13 and joined when he reached the club’s minimum age the following year. His elder brother, Des, and his father were already members. His father, however, would not let Robinson start racing until he was 18. His first race was a hilly 25-mile time-trial in March, which he completed in 1h 14m 50s. His ambition was not to ride against the clock, but in massed road races. Opportunities were limited. Views on British road racing were polarised between the British League of Racing Cyclists, which wanted road racing on open roads, and the National Cyclists’ Union, which feared police and public reaction and confined racing to closed circuits.

Robinson was an NCU member. He worked for the family building business, training before and after work, and frequently raced on roads in Sutton Park, Birmingham, where races had to end by 9.30 am so the public could use the park. In 1948 he went to Windsor to watch the Olympic Games road race in Windsor Great Park “little realising that four years later I would make the next Olympics in Helsinki”.

In spring 1952 Robinson rode the Route de France, amateur version of the Tour de France, in a joint NCU/Army team. Robinson was at this time doing his National Service. He rode well and was fifth with three days to go, but poor days in the Pyrenees saw him slip to 40th.

In 1953, Robinson left the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and joined the Ellis Briggs team as an independent, or semi-professional. He rode the Tour of Britain in 1952, wearing the leader’s yellow jersey before finishing fourth.

The following year, 1954, he improved to second, and second in the mountains competition.

The British cycle industry, fighting in a dwindling market, competed for sales by sponsoring riders. Hercules and BSA had supported long-distance record-breakers when there was no other professional racing on the road and now wanted to have road-racing teams.

Hercules planned a team that would be the first from Britain to ride the Tour de France, then based on national teams. The riders in its colours grew season by season until in 1955 it had Robinson, Bernard Pusey, Dennis Talbot, Freddy Krebs, Clive Parker, Ken Joy, Arthur Ilsley, Derek Buttle (the founder of the team) and Dave Bedwell.[4] The team raced in France, the Netherlands and Belgium in preparation. Robinson was 8th in Paris–Nice, fourth in La Flèche Wallonne and led the Tour of the Six Provinces to the sixth stage. The eventual Tour team was a mixture of Hercules riders and those from other sponsors.

The Tour de France proved tough and only Robinson and Tony Hoar finished, Robinson 29th and Hoar lanterne rouge or last. They were the first Britons to finish the Tour, 18 years after Charles Holland and Bill Burl were the first Britons in the race in 1937.

In 1956, the Tour allowed mixed teams. Robinson joined a squad which included Charly Gaul. He took third on the first stage, and by the end of the Tour was 14th, Gaul 13th. He also rode the Vuelta a España in Hugo Koblet’s Swiss-British team, and was second after the fourth stage. He punctured on a climb on the 10th stage when in a break with Italy’s Angelo Conterno, the race winner, but managed to recover from 11th to eighth.

In 1958, Robinson won stage seven of the Tour de France, to Brest. Arigo Padovan crossed the line first, but was relegated to second for his tactics in a hot sprint. Robinson showed his victory was no fluke by winning the 20th stage (from Annecy to Chalon-sur-Saône) of the 1959 Tour by 20 minutes. Next day he paid the price, trailing far behind the field with his Irish team-mate, Seamus Elliott, beside him.

Robinson finished 26th and 53rd in the Tours of 1960 and 1961. In between he won the 1961 Critérium de Dauphiné Libéré, winning two stages. He was part of the winning team in the team time-trial, then third in the individual time trial at Romans. He won the following day’s stage at Villefranche. He kept control of the race as it passed through the mountains and won the race.

The magazine Cycling placed Robinson ninth best British rider of the 20th century.
In 2009, he was inducted into the British Cycling Hall of Fame.