The British cycling community bade a fond farewell to Sir Jimmy Savile, who passed away at his home in Leeds on Saturday October 29, two days short of his 85th birthday.
Savile was a man who had successfully straddled the gulf between mainstream celebrity and the cycling world.
While known to the wider public for his jewellery, shell suits and TV show Jim’ll Fix It before answering the call of TV and radio, the sporting world welcomed a young Savile as a semi-pro cyclist, wrestler and marathon runner.
He was a prolific fundraiser and a strong supporter of a number of cycling charities. The cycling community enjoyed Savile’s patronage of various events, and he was a strong supporter of the Dave Rayner Fund, having been involved with the fund since its inception in 1995, and attended the annual dinner most years.
“You could always tell when Jimmy, or Oscar as many older riders called him, entered the room,” Dave Rayner Fund committee member Martyn Bolt told CW.
“He always tried to speak to everyone at the dinner each year, although I’m not sure what some of our Continental star guests such as Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain thought when they first met him!”
As Oscar ‘The Duke’ Savile, he competed in the 1951 edition of the Tour of Britain, and later worked on the race as a commentator. Fans and riders loved him in equal measure, with British pros often asking to have their photo taken with him at stage starts.
In later years, whenever the race headed through Yorkshire – as it has most years – the unmistakeable figure of Sir Jimmy could usually be found cheering from the roadside near his home.
Sir Jimmy Savile’s funeral will take place on Wednesday, November 9, at St Anne’s Catholic cathedral in Leeds.
Sir Jimmy Savile with Chris Boardman (left) and Mark Cavendish (right) at the 2008 Dave Rayner Dinner
Sir Jimmy welcomes Lizzie Armitstead at the 2010 Dave Rayner Dinner
Sir Jimmy with Russell Downing and Bradley Wiggins in 2009
Sir Jimmy with Keith Lambert
Sir Jimmy ‘Oscar’ Savile in the 1950s