Sports | 25 July 2015Forgotten heroes of British cycling: Colin Sturgess 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. When Colin Sturgess and Chris Boardman were the two best young endurance riders in Britain, one of them seemed more likely for a long career among the elite of the sport and it was not the celebrated former Olympic champion. Instead Sturgess was the outstanding talent of two men who were born four months apart and specialised in the same track discipline. Yet, even though Sturgess never once lost an individual pursuit to his famous old rival and went on to win a world title in the event at the remarkably tender age of 20, his life and career would downturn just as Boardman’s star dramatically rose. For those who knew Sturgess and enjoyed watching him race that this should have happened was sad. Not only was he fiercely talented and likeable as a young rider but he was a showman, too, as was demonstrated no more clearly than in his World Championship win in Lyon in 1989. Trailing his Australian opponent Dean Woods heading into the final lap, Sturgess typically produced a triumphant surge of acceleration in a discipline whose conventions demanded smooth, steady riding throughout. ‘The approach backfired a couple of times,’ Sturgess said, ‘but when it worked, it was electrifying.’ Yet he never touched such heights again and, after a brief professional career on the road, quit the sport aged 24. Quite why that happened is difficult to explain precisely but you can point to a few reasons. The professional scene then contained few Britons who might have provided a young compatriot the support he needed. If you believed that Sturgess refused to dope – and most do – he was cast as an outsider just as the sport was beginning to embrace EPO. As Colin himself would admit, he also found it difficult to bite his tongue in what was a fiercely political sport. In fact, his emotion life was more complex than most and he was later diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, a condition that came to define much of his life and contributed to him ending up briefly homeless in Australia as recently as three years ago. When I spoke to him recently, his situation was improved. He lived at his parents’ house in Leicester – they paid for his flight home – worked as a cycling coach and rode with a semi-professional British team. He admitted, however, that he still occasionally reflects on Boardman’s career as a cyclist, Team GB consultant and millionaire bike-brand owner and wonders what might have been. “It’s hard not to,” he said. “But you make your decisions and you live with them.” Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.