The Tour of Britain has been around in one form or another since the end of the Second World War, when the Victory Cycling Marathon ran from Brighton to Glasgow. Later it became the iconic Milk Race, which spanned the majority of the tour’s history, before its current incarnation as the Tour of Britain, sponsored by Friend’s Life.
The Victory Cycling Marathon began in 1945, and only one year was missed from then until the last Kellogg’s Tour in 1994. In 1998 and 1999 the race ran as the PruTour, and then became the Tour of Britain in 2004.
Cycling in Britain is now more popular than ever, and the Tour of Britain has acted as catalyst and beneficiary, going from strength to strength. It has been awarded 2.HC status by the UCI, only one category away from becoming part of the UCI WorldTour.
Now sit back and enjoy some classic Tour of Britain photos from the Cycling Weekly archive…
Norman proves wisdom of first Milk Race
1958 Milk Race: Comedian Norman Wisdom feeds milk to Syd Wilson before the start at the inaugural Milk Race, won by Austrian Richard Durlacher in his only Tour of Britain. Durlacher also won the Mountains Classification that year.
It was always about the struggle
1960 Milk Race: Bill Seggar gets going again after a wheel change on a steep climb. Seggar raced the Tour of Britain three times during his six-year career; his best performance came in the 1958 Daily Express Tour, when he managed second on a stage. Seggar finished 15th overall in 1960, with a podium on the Manchester stage.
Olympian Hinds shows why cyclists are the toughest
1961 Milk Race: Proving once again that cyclists are simply a breed apart, Olympian and four-times-stage-winner Jim Hinds tries to bandage himself up after what looks like a bad crash. Hinds came third overall in the following year’s race, picking up a stage win in Weston-Super-Mare. He rode for Britain at the 1960 Rome Olympics in the road race and individual time trial, but came away without a medal.
Fans get close to the action
Time to cool off
1967 Milk Race: A couple of riders attempt to cool down during the race, splashing their faces with water supplied by a spectator. Britain basked in a two-week summer heatwave in 1967, which saw temperatures hit 27°C — admittedly not quite the 37°C riders suffered at the 2014 Vuelta a Espana.
Who needs champers?
1967 Milk Race: Carlisle mayor Gerard Joseph Coogan breaks out the semi-skimmed for stage 12 winner Zygmunt Hanusik. This was the Polish rider’s second stage win at the 1967 Milk Race, coming 6th overall.
Massage tables not included
1973 Milk Race: The Netherlands team van lines up with the others before the race. These buses were used to carry around team equipment rather than house the team themselves, unlike vehicles from the likes of Team Sky, below. Dutch rider Piet van Katwijk won the Milk Race that year.
More from the archives
Five videos from the British Pathé archives dating from 1899 to 1946.
Kellogg’s Tour winners are grrrrreat!
1987 Kellogg’s Tour: Tour winner Joey McLoughlin poses with Kellogg’s mascot Tony the Tiger after the 1987 race. McLoughlin won stage two of the Kellogg’s Tour that year and was the GC winner in the Milk Race the year before. He attempted to defend his yellow jersey in 1988 but could only manage second, although he did manage to repeat his stage two success.
A fall on the Ford, rather than a rumble on the Tumble
The Pocket Rocket can hardly contain himself
1989 Kellogg’s Tour: The Isle of Man has a knack of creating top British sprinters. The predecessor to the Manx Missile, Mark Cavendish, was Steve Joughin, aka the Pocket Rocket — and here he doesn’t hold back in celebrating his Birmingham stage win.
Welcome aboard the ‘Death Star’
2013 Tour of Britain: A step up from the team vans from 1973, above, the fully kitted out Team Sky bus, nicknamed ‘The Death Star’, is surrounded by a crowd of fans. The bus is fitted with a personal area for each rider, a kitchen, a shower and two washing machines.
Haytor worthy of a Grand Tour
2013 Tour of Britain: The British cycling revolution has turned cycling into a mainstream sport with huge public interest. Never was this more clear than at the Devon stage up Haytor, where 250,000 fans lined the route.
Brit pack take control
2013 Tour of Britain: British cycling icon Sir Bradley Wiggins celebrates becoming the 2013 Tour of Britain champion with a shower of champagne, flanked by third placed finisher and fellow Brit Simon Yates.
Dowsett leads a ToB to remember
2014 Tour of Britain: Britain’s Alex Dowsett punishes himself in the stage 6 breakaway, which landed him the yellow jersey for a stage. Dowsett instigated the breakaway, which managed to stay ahead, in, what he described as possibly the hardest race in his career. He paid the price for punishing himself on the next day, where he lost the jersey.
Wiggins shows off the latest tech
2014 Tour of Britain: Showing how far cycling technology has come since the days of the Milk Race, defending champion Wiggins gets ready for his time trial on the custom Pinarello Bolide. The Team Sky time trial bike has been designed to make even the smallest of gains through aerodynamic features that would never have been conceived of in the decades before.
Words by Michael Seymour and Ray Pascoe