Memorable Racing in the Isle of Man
Was this the greatest ever field to start a pro road race in the British Isles? Those that were there say that it was and it certainly has all the ingredients.
Il Campionissimo started as No 1 followed by three separate winners of the Tour de France. Now pro world champions have ridden on British Roads a number of times - but it would hard to find any field of riders with so many Grand Tour victories between them. Count them up; Coppi - 7 victories, Bobet - 3 victories, Anquetil - 8 victories plus, of course, Walkowiak with his 1956 Tour de France win. The only other events that would come close would be when the World Championships or a stage of the Tour de France came to Britain. Even then finding more than 19 grand tour victories in the field would be a challenge.
The result was a memorable win for Shay Elliott (Helyett) in 4:47:56 followed across the line by De Haan (Geminiani), Robinson (Geminiani), Renteeste (Middlekamp), Le Menn (Peugeot) and Boni (Coppi) - based on the hand-written notes taken at the time.
Today the Isle of Man has had its own world road race champion but the sunny summer days of the Manx cycling week are just a fading memory.