Sports | 22 July 2015Forgotten heroes of British cycling: Tony Hoar Share article facebook twitter google pinterest As Chris Froome attempts to win his second Tour de France, Robert Dineen profiles five other brilliant but often overlooked British cyclists whose achievements played a pivotal role in the development of the sport in this country. Extended interviews with each of them can be found in his superb new book Kings Of The Road; A journey into the heart of British cycling. Forgotten Heroes of British Cycling: Tony Hoar In the build-up to the 2014 Grand Depart in Yorkshire, it was difficult to keep count of the number of interviews afforded to Brian Robinson, the brilliant son of Ravensthorpe who in 1955 became the first Briton to complete the Tour de France. An engaging, likeable character, Robinson deserved his belated moment in the sun, but you wondered if the second Briton to manage the feat was being unfairly overlooked. Not least when he finished only minutes behind Robinson and, in so doing, managed a remarkable achievement of his own. Hoar’s effort was memorable partly for the odds he overcame. Before he joined the British team that entered that Tour, he had scarcely any experience of riding across mountains and had only twice raced abroad, yet was being asked to tackle a race 4,495km in length. (Compare that to the 3,358km of the 2015 race.) He had also been schooled as a track cyclist on England’s south coast and had turned professional only a year earlier. As if these were not obstacles enough, his team paid scant heed to tactics and featured mostly riders incapable riding the Tour. In fact, so ill-prepared were his team-mates that by stage 12 only Hoar and Robinson remained from the squad. With Robinson higher up the classification, Hoar was left to compete mostly alone, trying to form alliances with other domestiques, wondering how far behind him lay the broom wagon, withstanding more pain than he had ever done. ‘I died several times in those mountains,’ he said. By the final week, he had also to endure persistent mockery from the French press when they realised that this plucky Brit was one of two contenders for the lantern rouge, or ‘red lantern’ that was given to the rider who finished last. That he survived to eventually claim the honour should not be underestimated. Of the 120 of the world’s finest cyclists who had started the race, only 69 finished. That Hoar finished behind Robinson should also be put in context. Unlike Hoar, Robinson had experience of riding on the continent. While the Yorkshireman was short and slight, Hoar was among the heaviest in the peloton. As a result, while for decades, young British riders had doubted if they could compete against the best riders in the toughest race of all, Hoar had played in a pivotal role in helping to demonstrate that they could. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.