Brian Robinson

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
SexMale
Full nameBrian•Robinson
Used nameBrian•Robinson
Born3 November 1930 in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, England (GBR)
Died25 October 2022
AffiliationsHuddersfield Road Club, Huddersfield (GBR)
NOC Great Britain

Biography

Yorkshireman Brian Robinson holds a special place in the history of British cycling as the first Briton to complete the Tour de France and also the first to win a stage. He was a pioneering British cyclist on the continent, and was the inspiration to many like Tom Simpson (who once shared a Paris flat with Robinson), and many of the modern-day professionals.

Robinson only started racing on the continent after his brother Desmond attended a training camp in France in the early 1950s, and suggested Brian join him. Robinson started cycling seriously as a 13-year-old with the Huddersfield Road Club, of which he remained a member for over 70 years, but his father would not let him take part in competitive events until he was 18. He started his working life in his father’s building business but, once he took up competitive cycling, soon started showing potential in the early 1950s in Time Trial and Hill Climbing events. Robinson did his National Service between 1951-53 but continued with his cycling career and was a member of the Army Cycling Team. In 1954 he joined the Ellis-Brigg professional team.

The Robinson siblings were in the Great Britain road race squad at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, with Brian finishing 27th, one place behind Desmond, despite having the same time. In 1954 Robinson finished second to Frenchman Eugène Tambourlini in the Tour of Britain (later the Milk Race) and the following year made his début in the Tour de France when he was part of the first British team to take part in the race. Robinson competed in the tour on seven occasions between 1955-61 and finished on five occasions, with a best overall finish of 14th in 1956. He also took part in the Vuelta a España twice, and was eighth overall in 1956.

When he won the seventh stage from Saint-Brieuc to Brest in the 1958 Tour he made history as the first British winner of a stage. Despite finishing second to Italy’s Arrigo Padovan, Robinson appealed against the Italian’s bumping in the sprint, and it was upheld by the judges. The following year, Robinson won his second stage, from Annecy to Chalon-sur-Saône, by 20 minutes from the peloton, headed by – Padovan.

In 1957 Robinson started the season in style by winning the 188km (117 miles) Grand Prix of Nice by 50 seconds from three-time Tour de France winner Louison Bobet. Robinson then finished third in the season’s opening Classic, the Milano-Sanremo to become he first Briton to stand on the podium of this great race. He had to wait until 1961, however, for his first professional major stage race win, when he took the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. Robinson retired from racing at the end of the 1962 season and returned to England to start his own building business.

Fifty-three years after last racing in the Tour de France, Robinson was involved with the race again in 2014 when it started in Yorkshire. Robinson was an ambassador for the Grand Départ of the race and, along with former professional and fellow Yorkshireman Barry Hoban, they played a key role in getting Yorkshire to be part of the race. Robinson was inducted into the British Cycling Hall of Fame in 2009 and in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list was awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to cycling.

Results

Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1952 Summer Olympics Cycling Road (Cycling) GBR Brian Robinson
Road Race, Individual, Men (Olympic) 27
Road Race, Team, Men (Olympic) Great Britain 11

Olympic family relations