Graham Webb, world amateur Road champion in 1967, has already featured in our coverage of British Cycling's 50th Anniversary - it was the stunning image of Graham along with fellow world champion Beryl Burton, which we have used to launch our celebrations. So you can imagine how delighted we were when Graham got in touch with us, prompted in part by Brian Cookson's moving account of teenage hero worship and broken dreams - The Day I Met Tom Simpson. This is Graham's own memory of those days:
Graham Webb's Memories of Tom Simpson and Bill McCormack
1961 I was 17, had just ridden my first race and remember the first national newspaper article that I read about my favourite sport, cycling, that was when Tom Simpson won the greatest race on earth, the 'Tour of Flanders'. He was so young too, I can't ever see another Brit winning this race, it's so hard. That 1961 newspaper article I cut out and have cherished right up to this present day. It was only about 3 or 4 lines, what a disgrace! Little did I know then that some 40 years later I would be presenting Tom's bronze bust, the one that Albert Beurick had made after Tom's death and stood for years in the Ghent indoor track, to the Tour of Flanders museum in Oudenaarde, Belgium. What an honour!
I also knew Bill McCormack very well; he was one of the first BCF committee members in 1959. He was a lovely man with a really warm Brummie accent. It was Bill that put me into the 1967 national road race, my 3rd place, behind Les West and Peter Buckley secured me a place in 'Chas' Messenger's road team for Heerlen in Holland. On the start line of the worlds road race I asked Bill if the BCF would pay my fare from Belgium to the London '6' (where that photo of Beryl and me was taken), he replied "If you get in the first 3 today I'll lend you the money" I replied with "and what if I win?" Bill said "If you win then I'll pay your fare out of my own pocket". The rest is history but when I asked Bill about my fare to London he said "you're richer than I am now!" Bless him, later in life he lost his eyesight and that made him very sad. BTW only today I had an email from Bill's niece, she had noticed me on the Birmingham History forum.
Belgium, Sept 2009, Graham Webb
We've dug up this remarkable bit of footage from the race where Graham won his world title - it also includes coverage of Beryl Buton's win on the same day.
Explore more of British cycling's history in our decade features: