1953 Royal Air Force 5-Day

Credit: Cycling 20-Aug-1953

by Ken Bowden

WINNER of the second five-stage road race promoted by the R.A.F. C.A., a longer and harder event than last year and contested by teams of eight from each of the nine Commands, was Scottish massed-start champion Joe Christison, R.A.F. Pitgreave Castle and Cornet R.C. Christison, frequent winner of Scottish road races, a lab. technician in civilian life, and at 20 almost through with his National Service, covered the 538 miles in 25 hr. 21 min. 22 see. to win by 17 min. 38 sec, from another 20-year-old, Ron Coe (R.A.F. Dishforth and Birdwell Wh) a noted time trialist and eighth in last year's race, with Tony Hewson, of Sheffield (R.A.F. Stafford), B.L.R.C. junior champion in 1951 and 10 months in the Service, third, a further 5 sec. down.
Fonteyn1953-1Fourth and fifth, over 25 min. in arrears, were national champion Ted Gerrard and world championship selection Fred Krebs. Ultra-fast 25-miler Jim Scott won three of the four hill primes to take the King of the Mountains title despite riding the fourth stage and part of the fifth before he retired with a badly grazed, and bruised leg.
Maintenance Command won the team section by nearly an hour after leading from the second stage.
The first stage from Henlow to Hednesford, on Monday of last week, was won by Brian Watkiss (who retired next day with a collapsed rear wheel) in a solo 70-mile break by over 4 min. from W. T. Seggar, Gerrard and Krebs.
The second stage to Hereford, the toughest and the longest, decided the race. Christison, gradually whittling down a 10-strong breakaway group that had formed in the first two miles, gained a lead over the field that he was never to lose. Scott went ahead to take the prime at 48 miles, dropped back and punctured, and Hewson waited for him.. Five others had tailed off before - the prime and two more went at 80 miles, leaving Christison alone with a 10-min. lead over the next bunch, which included most of the stars. At the finish he had increased it to 13 min. over G. R. Gane, with the remainder more than 20 min. down. But Christison's lead would undoubtedly have been less if Krebs, Hoar and Hitch, within 8 min. of him at 85 miles, had not been directed off course by a policeman.
The third stage to St. Athan saw a breakaway which lasted to the end, effected by 13 riders right at the start. Scott won his second prime by 3 1/2 min., took it easy and was re-absorbed; then - within sight of the finish almost - he came down on a car-blocked road, along with R. H. Bridge and Hitch, damaging his leg as Hoar won the sprint  from Coe. Gane had retired with gear trouble, and both Coe and Hewson moved up into what were to be their final race placings, 17 1/2 min. in arrears of Christison, who purposely had an easy day. Bridge now lay in fourth place, 23 min. down, and a second separated Gerrard and Krebs, fifth and sixth at 25 min.
Christison punctured during the period of neutralization at the start of the fourth stage to Innsworth, and only just managed to gain the field before the race proper. Then, at 80 miles, when he was with a break of 15 includ-ing all the leaders, Hoar skidded on wet roads, crashed, and brought dawn Bridge and Chance. Bridge hurt his head and retired; Chance carried on and so did Hoar, only to discover later that he had fractured a wrist and would be out of competition for the rest of the season. After negotiating roads flooded by a cloudburst in the last 10 miles, Gerrard won the sprint from Krebs, Seggar, W. Braithwaite, Hewson, Christison and Coe. Scott again won the prime, and leading race positions changed only in that Gerrard replaced Bridge in fourth place, Krebs and Braithwaite moving up into fifth and sixth places.
The final stage, a hard and hilly 108 1/2 miles to Halton, was won by J. Pound from R. Lockwood and G. Wright, these three having got clear at 30 miles with Hitch who punctured at 75 miles. Leading race placings remained unaltered.


1ST STAGE, 106 3/4 MILES (R.A.F. Henlow - R.A.F. Hednesford, August 10). - B. Watkiss, Bomber Command, 4 hr. 43 min. 30 sec., 1; W. T. Seggar, Bomber Command, at 4 min 10 sec., 2; E. C. Gerrard, Maintenance Command, at 4:15, 3; F. O. Krebs, Tech. Training Command, at 4:40, 4; A. Hewson, Maintenance Command, 5; J. Christison, Coastal Command, 6.
Team. - Bomber Command.

2ND STAGE, 110 MILES (R.A.F. Hednesford -  R.A.F. Hereford, August 11). - J. Christison, 5 hr. 16 min. 45 see., 1; G. R. Gane, No. 90 Group, at 13:21. 2; D. Tichener, Maintenance Command, at 16:50, 3; E. C. Gerrard, at 20:59, 4; R. Coe, Transport Command, 5; A. G. Kilbey, Bomber Command, 6. Prime. -  J. J. Scott, Maintenance Command.
General classification  - J. Christison, 10 hr. 2 min. 55 see., 1; E. C. Gerrard, at 21:46, 2; G. R. Gane, at 22:14, 3; F. O. Krebs, at 28:5, 4; A. Hewson, at 30:0, 5; R. Coe, at 30:24, 6.
Team. - Maintenance Command.

3RD STAGE, 104 1/2 MILES (R.A.F. Hereford - R,A.F. St. Athan, August 12). - A. Hoar, Fighter Command, 4 hr, 51 min. 37 sec., 1; W. Braithwaite, Flying Training Command, 2; R. Coe, at 5 sec., 3; J. McDougall, Flying Training Command, at 7 sec., 4: L. Radburn, Home Command. at 18 sec., 5; J. Pocock, Fighter Command, 6. Prime. - L J. Scott.
General classification - J. Christison, 15 hr. 8 min. 9 see., 1; R. Coe, at 17.37, 2; A Hewson, at 17.43, 3; R. H. Bridge, Bomber Command, at 23:49, 4; E. C. Gerrard, at 25:9, 5; F. O. Krebs, at 25:10, 6.
Team. -  Maintenance Command.

4TH STAGE, 108 1/2 MILES (R.A.F. St. Athan - R.A.F. Innsworth, August 13). - E. C. Gerrard, 5 hr. 9 min. 59 see., 1; F. O. Krebs, at 1 see., 2: W. T. Seggar, at 4 sec., 3; W. Braithwaite, 4; A. Hewson, 5; J. Christison, 6; R. Coe, at 6 sec., 7. Prime. - J. J. Scott.
General classification. - J. Christison, 20 hr. 18 min. 12 sec., 1; R. Coe, at 17:39, 2; A Hewson, at 17:43. 3; E. C. Gerrard, at 24:5, 4; F. O. Krebs, at 24:31, 5; W. Braithwaite, at 27:41, 6.
Team. - Maintenance Command.

5TH STAGE, 108 1/2 MILES (R.A.F. Innsworth - R.A.F. Halton, August 14). - J. Pound, Bomber Command, 4 hr. 59 min. 42 see., 1; R. Lockwood, Maintenance Command, at 2 sec., 2; G. Wright, Maintenance Command, at 3:1, 3; R. Coe. at 3:27. 4; A. Hewson, at 3:28, 5; J. Christison, 6. Prime. L. L., Hitch.
Final general classification. - J. Christison, the 538 1/4 miles in 25 hr. 21 min. 22 sec., 1; R. Coe, at 17:38, 2; A. Hewson, at 17:43, 3; E. C. Gerrard, at 25.22, 4; F. O. Krebs, at 25:54, 5; W. Braithwaite, at 28:31, 6; D. Tichener, at 33:19, 7; R. Lockwood, at 37:25, 8; J. Pocock, at 38:3, 9. King of the Mountains. - J. J. Scott.
Team. - Maintenance Command (Hewson, Gerrard and Lockwood), 77 hr. 24 min. 53 sec.
Acceptances, 72; starters, 68; finishers, 32.


Credit: The Bicycle 19-Aug-1953

JOE CHRISTISON, of R.A.F., Pitreavie Castle, triumphed in last week's third R.A.F Tour of the Stations. The sandy-haired Scots champion gained a Coppi-like lead on the second stage, and despite fierce and continuous attacks (plus the handicap of being the sole surviving member of the Coastal Command team) he held that lead to the finish. Although not the hot favourite, he was included as one of the "possibles" when the riders assembled at Henlow on Sunday week.
Main speculation was centred on the team from Maintenance Command. Led by Ted Gerrard (last year's winner) it had a galaxy of talent including Jim Scott, D. Robinson, A. Cook, R. Lockwood and A. Hewson.
First-day attacks started within five miles of the start, 'and this current technique for early breakaways persisted on every subsequent stage.
Twelve miles out from Henlow on the road to Hednesford, Brian Watkiss and John Chance were away to a minute-and-a-quarter lead.
Watkiss dropped Chance and continued to forge ahead. At 70 miles he was 11 minutes up on a bunch that included Gerrard, Scott and Krebs, with a second breakaway group led by Christi-son and Coe a minute and a half in arrears.
Despite a fierce chase Watkiss still had three minutes' lead from his pursuers at Hednesford.
The second day was the decisive stage of the race, and a breakaway after two miles by 13 riders remained clear of all pursuit. Christison, among this " baker's dozen," ground down all opposition until at 70 miles he was on his own. The remainder of the stage to Hereford was hard going, but the Scot put in a sterling time trial effort.
The 14-minute lead he had at the finish put him in an unassailable position.
At the end of the second stage Christison was not only confident of holding his lead, but was fully determined to increase the advantage over his nearest rivals - and continued, to ride aggressively in the remaining three stages, marking in particular Coe, Krebs and Gerrard.
On the third day. to St. Athan, although not in, the leading group. he chased with Krebs for more than two-thirds of the distance and lost little time in his position at the head of the field.
The fourth stage, which finished at Innsworth, and was won by Gerrard from Krebs, had the leading six riders in general classification in the first bunch, and on the final stage to Halton, won by John Chance, the first three riders finished. in fourth. fifth and sixth positions, with only lengths separating them.
The longer stages, none under 100 miles, resulted in only 33 of the 68 starters finishing.
Jim Scott was in every early breakaway, and, before he retired on the final stage, troubled by a leg injury received on the third day, he won every hill prime.
The Cyclo repair van, manned by John Morris, followed throughout and gave valuable assistance.