The double Olympic bronze medallist turned race director of the Tour of Britain, Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 and the Tour Series, reveals his most embarrassing cycling moment, his most used phrases and why Haytor was his favourite 2013 Tour of Britain stage
I got into cycling because of a disease I had on the knees called Osgood-Schlatter. When I was 15 or 16, my legs were completely in plaster and once the casts came off, part of my rehab was being put on an exercise bike.
I remember there was a timing board on the wall and I smashed all of the records on it. My next door neighbour then gave me my first bike, which I stripped down. I was up and running in no time and never looked back.
If I could relive any race of my career, it would be the team pursuit bronze medal ride at the 1972 Munich Olympics. It was very unexpected, and it turned out to be the first time Britain had won a medal in cycling since 1956.
Stubborn, team-oriented, canny, intelligent and aggressive (on occasions) would be the best words to describe my riding style, I think.
My most embarrassing cycling moment came while riding a Madison in Lodz, Poland, with [former GB team-mate] Willy Moore. We had spent several days on a diet of rhubarb soup, ham and prune juice. During the race I had an attack of diarrhoea and had to find a toilet at a track that had next to no facilities.
I managed to find what could only be described as a hole surrounded by corrugated sheeting. I found out the hard way that the hole was in fact more of a pit which, in my haste, I fell into up to my chin. Willy was still out there racing so I had to clean myself up and walk through the crowds to rejoin the event.
My favourite stage in the 10 editions of the modern Tour of Britain so far was the first mountain-top finish in Haytor, Devon in 2013. It was a difficult and problematic set up, but the support from the council and site rangers was exemplary. I would love to go back there again.
To relax, I like watching a good drama or thriller on the big or the small screen. Also, I enjoy seeing Liverpool FC play — preferably when they win!
If I had a blank cheque, I would buy the world out of poverty. It would be great to give everyone a clean sheet upon which to start again.
I have a few phrases I use regularly. When talking to suppliers and subcontractors, “You need to sharpen your pencil” comes out, as I inevitably want them to lower their prices.
If someone says, “No you can’t,” during a meeting, I will always reply with, “Can you explain in detail why we can’t?” If I’m working at a race, it’s always, “Can I see your accreditation?” and, “I’m sorry, but you can’t stand there.”