Cycling trailblazer Brian Robinson – the first Brit to take part in the Tour de France dies aged 91


Cycling trailblazer Brian Robinson – the first Brit to take part in the Tour de France and who represented Team GB at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics – dies aged 91

  • Brian Robinson, the first Brit to take part in the Tour de France, has died aged 91
  • Yorkshireman Robinson won stages of the Tour de France in both 1958 and 1959 
  • Robinson was the first Briton to stand on the podium of Milan-Sanremo in 1957 
  • His death was announced by his grandson and fellow cyclist Jake Womersley

Brian Robinson, the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France, has died at the age of 91.

Robinson won stages of the Tour in both 1958 and 1959, and was also the first British rider to complete cycling’s most famous race in 1955.

A pioneer for Britons racing on the continent, he also won the prestigious Criterium du Dauphine stage race in 1961 and was the first Briton to stand on the podium of one of cycling’s Monuments, Milan-Sanremo, finishing third in 1957.

The Yorkshireman’s death was announced by his grandson and fellow cyclist Jake Womersley, who wrote on Twitter: ‘It’s with great sadness the family of Brian Robinson have to announce his passing yesterday.’

Born in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, Robinson joined his local cycling club as a teenager and later took up racing in between working for the family building company.

Brian Robinson (pictured), the first Brit to take part in the Tour de France, has died aged  91

 Brian Robinson (pictured), the first Brit to take part in the Tour de France, has died aged  91

Robinson (right) won stages of the Tour in both 1958 and 1959, and was also the first British rider to complete cycling’s most famous race in 1955

He competed for Britain at the 1952 Olympics before turning professional, riding the Tour de France for the first time in 1955 when he finished 29th overall.

In 1958 he took Britain’s first stage win, on stage seven from Saint-Brieuc to Brest, though he did not get to raise his arms in victory that day, only learning he had won later in the evening when news came through that Italian Arigo Padovan, first across the line, had been disqualified.

He made up for that a year later when he won stage 20 of the 1959 Tour, from Annecy to Chalon-sur-Saone, by a full 20 minutes.

Robinson finished 29th overall when riding in the Tour de France for the first time back in 1955

Robinson finished 29th overall when riding in the Tour de France for the first time back in 1955

At a time when many professional cyclists lived hand to mouth, Robinson retired at the age of 33 to return to the UK with his family, still riding his bike in relative anonymity until he became an ambassador for the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in Yorkshire in 2014.

Tributes have also poured in for the cycling legend, with Ineos Grenadiers cycling team posted: ‘The man who blazed a trail for British cyclists at the Tour de France.

‘We’d like to join the cycling world in sending condolences and love to the family and friends of Brian Robinson, who passed away yesterday, aged 91. A true legend of our sport.’

Velo UK also said: ‘Brian Robinson died a few days before his 92nd birthday… He will be remembered as the first Briton to win a stage in the Tour de France. It was 1958. RIP, Brian.’

Cycling UK added: ‘RIP Brian Robinson – a cycling legend. The first British rider to complete the Tour de France, and then win a stage, he was a trailblazer in the sport and true inspiration.

‘Sending our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.’

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