Helms Memorial was pure gold

Time trialling’s golden age was reprised on Sunday in honour of CW cartoonist Johnny Helms.

It was as though time had slipped three, possibly four decades with hundreds of fans descending on the Cheshire lanes to see the stars of yesteryear paced by their slightly younger team-mates.

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It’s not every day that you can boast two British Tour de France stage winners, two world pursuit champions, plus three Tour of Britain winners in a time trial.

The sun shone, the temperature nudged 20°C and you struggled to find space at either of the pubs on the circuit. “This is what it was like after the war,” I was told. Which one, I didn’t ask, but these are the people who would know, with 18 riders aged 70 or over.

It was all supposed to be a bit of fun, to win some money for charity, to meet up with some old mates, but was it really? Many saw this as the last chance to settle some very old scores.

Were those smiles or grimaces? It was hard to tell. One thing’s for certain, there was no lack of effort judging from the sound of those coughs at the finish.

It’s just the kind of scene Johnny could so deftly depict from his beloved sport.

It was a most fitting memorial.

Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly

Related links

Johhny Helms Memorial GP des Gentlemen photo gallery