Sports | 24 July 2015Forgotten heroes of British cycling: Mandy Jones 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. For British fans gathered within sight of the finish at the 1982 world road race, the sight of Mandy Jones emerging on to the Goodwood motor-racing circuit with a lead over the bunch was an exhilarating one. Here was a British woman barely out of her teens about to win what was then the most prestigious accolade for female cyclists and she was poised to do it in the most courageous style. Not only that but there was little precedent for Jones’s impending victory. Beryl Burton, the phenomenal Yorkshirewoman, had triumphed in the same event among many accolades but most considered her a one-off talent. No other British woman had won it and only one man, Tom Simpson, had claimed it in the modern era. What made the sight of her lead all the more remarkable was that, barely a week earlier, Jones had been soundly thrashed in the individual time trial at the same championships and that had been identified as her best hope of success. That Jones (now Bishop) held on to triumph was testament to her talent and preparation. That she never emulated it was the result partly of injuries suffered but also the time out she took from the sport after her victory as the result of an emotional breakdown. The source of it was twofold. In training she was driven to extremes by her boyfriend, Ian Greenhalgh, a professional cyclist himself and 15 years her senior. Also, being so young, she was unprepared for the sudden attention that winning the rainbow jersey bestowed on her. ‘I just really, really needed a break, not a physical one, but mental,’ she said. Not until the end of the decade was she able to make a proper comeback to the sport though it too was curtailed shortly after she had been placed on Team GB’s Olympic programme for the 1992 Games, with women’s events having by then been introduced to the event. A crash while out training damaged her back so severely that she was eventually forced to retire. Had she been able to compete at a Games, her name might be as familiar to us as modern Olympic heroes such as Victoria Pendleton and Nicole Cooke. As it is, Mandy Bishop’s precocious, defining achievement probably deserves more prominence than it is currently given. Not until Cooke in 2008 did a Briton match it. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.