British national champions recall how they won their stripes, the pride in wearing them for the season and the effect it had on the rest of their careers. Podium fines, finish line crashes, curious combines, white shorts and unlikely alliances – these are the stories behind the jerseys.
Keith Lambert (1974, 1980)
I beat Bill Nickson for the second one by an inch in Redditch. Robert Millar was with us, he’d won the amateur race two years before. He might be a climber, but it was wet and he was losing us on the roundabouts because it was so slippy. So we just left him out there, then he blew.
Bill put ten lengths into me when he kicked – that’s what he was good at – but I eventually pegged him back and won by an inch.
I remember turning up to Overijse that summer. It was a World Champs selection race for the Belgians. Five of us got away – Fons De Wolf won from Rudy Pevenage – and I was third. I thought it was good to have the British jersey on the podium with riders like that. I was proud.
In those days, of course, you didn’t have to wear a number because you were the champ. That was pretty cool.
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