Mark Bell, the 1984 Olympian and former national road champion of both amateur and professional titles, died suddenly last week, aged 48.

He was found collapsed last Thursday morning (January 29). The Merseysider lived in Bebbington, on the Wirral.

Bell, who had been unwell for a long time, had won his long battle with alcoholism and had taken up cycling again with a renewed optimism. He was longing to get back to leading a normal life but had other serious health issues.

His older brother Tony told Cycling Weekly. ?Mark needed an operation ? it was coming up. He hoped it would help him to get out walking, help him to a bit more cycling. He had a new bike and had been enjoying riding again.?

Bell was a natural talent who at the age of 12 first got a whiff of the finishing line, placing sixth place in a criterium. Top six placings followed in road racing, although he first developed a winning habit in cyclo-cross, winning several.

Sprinting became his forte, and he started winning at the Morecambe Prom races. His heroes were the world pro road champions, Basso and Maertens.

He rode several schoolboy internationals, and in 1979 earned his first senior international selection, for the Sealink International.

In 1981 he won the British Amateur road race title at Colchester. He also won two stages of the Milk Race, and was the first non-Belgian to win the eight-day Etoile de Sud. Other victories included the Archer GP International and Tour of Essex.

In 1984 he won selection for the Los Angeles Olympics. The following year, 1985, he turned pro for Falcon, winning the Delyn GP in his first season. But his proudest moment came in 1986 in Raleigh colours, when he won the British pro road title in Newport, Shropshire.

Bell started cycling with the Birkenhead Victoria, moving to the Birkenhead North End CC, followed by Prescot Eagle for a short spell, before joining the Port Sunlight Wheelers. He was also in the Manchester Wheelers.

Mark BellBell in British national champion’s colours. Photo by Phil O’Connor

Mark BellBell leading from the front. Photo by Phil O’Connor

Mark BellBell riding for the infamous Manchester Wheelers team

Mark BellBell wins in Southport in 1978 in front of huge crowds. Riding for Port Sunlight Wheelers he soloed to victory on this day

Mark BellBell wins in a sprint ahead of Paul Leitch and Brian Fowler in Otorohanga

Mark BellArms aloft again as Bell takes stage four of the Launa Window 3-day in Newton Abbot

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Former National Champ Mark Bell dies