Birmingham & Black Country

Wolverhampton cyclists honour Percy Stallard race

Cyclists racing on the road in 1942
Image caption The event in Wolverhampton marked 75 years since Britain's first road race

Dozens of cyclists rode through a city to mark the 75th anniversary of Britain's first road race.

The event in Wolverhampton honoured one of the city's most famous sons, legendary cyclist Percy Stallard.

Stallard, who died aged 92 in 2001, organised the historic 59-mile ride for 40 cyclists from Llangollen to Wolverhampton on 7 June, 1942.

Riders set off from Broad Street, where Stallard ran his cycle shop for many years.

Image caption Members of the Wolverhampton Wheelers cycling club rode through the city

They rode to the City Archives, based at the former Molineux Hotel, where Stallard formed the Midland League of Racing Cyclists.

In the early 1940s road races were popular across Europe but in Britain, cyclists only ever raced on track.

Stallard came up against opposition from the National Cyclists' Union when organising his event, but won support from police and got sponsorship from local newspaper the Express & Star.

Image caption Percy Stallard, who died in 2001, was a pioneer of the cycling world and competed for Great Britain in the 1930s
Image caption Stallard ran his own cycling shop in the city

The celebration was organised by Wolverhampton Wheelers Cycling Club, of which Stallard, who competed for Great Britain during the 1930s, was a member.

Luke Willians, organiser, said: "If it wasn't for Stallard, the racing pioneer, you wouldn't have road racing.

"He was a forward thinker, he could see into the future, he wasn't someone who would look into the past all the time."

Image caption Organiser Luke Willians said Stallard was a "forward thinker"

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