By Simon Smythe
Tim Stevens, who has died aged 55, was a junior competition record holder who went on to ride for Great Britain in the 1985 World Championships and was still the man to beat in domestic time trials 30 years on.
With his muscle-bound physique and looming stature, ‘Big Tim’ could bend not only a bike that wasn’t up to the job but also the laws of physics: he was at his most devastating on hilly courses. If failing to hold his wheel on a climb wasn’t demoralising enough for his rivals, he revelled in bad weather — the colder and wetter the better.
Stevens grew up in West Wickham in the London borough of Bromley and started riding with his schoolmate and lifelong friend Steve Sefton. Sefton, who turned pro with Ever Ready, claimed he wouldn’t have been any good had he not trained with Stevens.
By 1978 Stevens was one of the country’s top juniors, having taken nearly half a minute off the 25-mile competition record with his 53.15. Two years later he was taking scalps in the senior ranks: he won the 1980 North Road Hardriders time trial, beating reigning British Best All-Rounder Phil Griffiths. He also won the Perfs Pedal Race that spring.
He was selected to ride the team time trial for Great Britain in the 1985 World Championships in Italy but with the national team’s budget a fraction of what it is today Stevens, Pete Longbottom, Dave Mann and Dave Williams finished over seven minutes behind the winning Soviet quartet.
Stevens briefly took up triathlon and represented England at the Commonwealth Games in 1990, again confounding his rivals by being a nimble runner in spite of his superhero’s build.
He later returned to time trialling, focusing on his favourite early-season hillies. A three-time winner of the classic East Surrey Hardriders, he carried on winning well into the 2000s.
In 2013 Stevens attempted an ascent of Box Hill in under nine minutes to raise money for the Royal Marsden Hospital where his wife, Jenni, was being treated for breast cancer. It was shortly after Jenni was given the all-clear earlier this year that Tim was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Jenni is continuing to fundraise in his memory at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/inmemoryoftimstevens.
Despite his enjoyment of the cold and his reputation as a hardman — “a tough, tough guy” as Sefton put it — Stevens was also known as a warm, kind man who loved a chat and a cup of tea in the HQ post-race.
Tim Stevens is survived by Jenni and their children, Ellie and Harry. His funeral took place last Thursday, September 15 at the Surrey-Sussex Crematorium.
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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