1956 An Tostal Tour of Ireland

Credit: Cycling, 24-May-1956


Manchester Velo Take Team Race

THE 1956 An Tostal Tour of Ireland will be remembered as a race that produced a different overall leader most days, and an unsatisfactory event marred by mishandling of situations by officials. Race Winner was J [Jimmy] Rae, whose club is [Glasgow] Thistle R.C., a member of the Scottish national team. He rose to that eminence without a stage win to his credit after first Haskell, then Best, Evans, Oldfield, Armitage and Hodgson had held the purple race-leader's jersey. His win was the result of being with the breaks in the later stages, never playing a dominant role but always being among the leaders. (Stage story from 2nd day starts below)


FINAL RESULT - General Classification
1, J. Rae, Scotland 44 19 20
2, W. Hodgson, Birmingham U 44 22 31
3, W. H. Best, Orpington  44 24 18
4, R. Mackin, R.A.F. Staffs 44 25 11
5, T. Oldfield, Hudds. R.C. 44 28 2
6, J. Armitage, Bradford R.C. 44 29 32
7, J. McCormack, Eagle C. R.C. 44 43 0
8, N. Storey, M/C. B.L.R.C 44 44 23
9, P. Janes, Solihull 44 45 46
10, E. Morriss. Derby Wh. 44 46 36

1, Manchester Velo, 132-51-18
2, R.A.F. Stafford, 133-13-44

FOLLOWING race-leader Brian Haskell's win of the first prime at Bray (eight miles) on the second stage on May 14, Dublin-Kilkenny, 121 miles, he never again appeared amongst the leaders for the rest of the stage, and, surprisingly after his first stage success, dropped to thirty-third place. Grouping and regrouping was the order of the stage, and it is noteworthy that in almost every regrouping Manchester Vella men A. Everson, D. Gorfield, F. Garvey, F. Evans and A. Cockburn appeared among the leaders. At Gorey (58 miles) the leading group of 25 riders, which contained J. Lackey (Ireland), A. McPherson, A. Devenish and J. Rae (Scotland), D. Byrne (Dublin Wh.), J. Armitage (Bradford), W. Best (Orpington), T. Oldfield and W. Penvose (Huddersfield), sprinted for the prime, which went to Penvose. Fourteen miles farther on 12 riders, including J. Flanagan (Dublin Wh.), D. Jennings (R.A.F.), P. Janes (Solihull), J. J. McCormick (Eagle C.C.) and D. Evans (R.A.F.), joined the leaders until the streets of Tullow, where a fair was in progress, had been negotiated. A few miles outside Tullow, at 88 miles, a flock of sheep barricaded the road. McCormick, Flanagan and Byrne worked their way through it and got free of the leading group to open up a gap which at one time reached two minutes. The pace, however, told on them and at the 100-mile mark, reached in 4-25-0. they were joined by F. Evans, Armitage, Mackin, Corfield and Cockburn. In the meantime, K. Miller (Three Spires) and Janes had broken from the pursuing group and were 90 seconds behind the leaders. Flanagan was dropped at 108 miles and McCormick at 111 miles. The leaders dropped Byrne nearing the line and finished in the above order with Byrne 55 seconds behind, followed by Janes and Miller at 1 min. 15 sec.
When almost the whole field had crossed the line some cows escaped from control near the finish and D. Fairley (Derby Wh.) was involved in a crash which necessitated hospital treatment.
Team award went to Manchester. In the overall position Best led in 11-5-24. The R.A.F. team led on team classification with Ireland last.
Bill Best wore the race-leader's jersey on the third stage, Kilkenny-Youghal, 139 miles, but Haskell showed early on in the stage that he was trying to retrieve his position, and for roughly half the distance of the stage he was either with the leaders or within striking distance of them. He took the primes at New Ross and Waterford when leading with Rae, of Scotland, and Thompson of Ireland, but three miles outside Waterford (67 miles) they were overtaken and the field re-formed.
R Eastwood (Huddersfield) and Scots Best All-rounder Tommy Blakeley, who -broke away from a leading group approaching the climb to the Vee (1,600 ft.), scaled the hill together, but Eastwood was the winner of the sprint for the King of the Hills prime, where the Pair had a two-minute lead on the field.
The time to Cappoguin (120 miles) was 5-25. The field was well strung-out over a couple of miles. with Haskell, Oldfield, D. Evans and F. Evans neared to the leaders Eastwood and Blakeley, followed by J. J. McCormick and B. Sharkey. The two chasing groups fused at 127 miles, and F. Evans dropped out when McCormick began to force the pace. At 128 miles the leaders were caught and shortly afterwards Blakeley was dropped. Seven miles farther on D. Evans went to the front and jumped the group. Oldfield gave chase, but Evans had the advantage and crossed the line 1 1/2 min. before Eastwood. Sharkey was third, 30 sec. slower, and McCormick, Haskell and Oldfield were timed at 3 min. In general classification D. Evans and his club, R.A.F., now led. Haskell improved his position from 33 to 26.

SENSATION before the start of stage 4, 95 miles from Youghal to Glengariff, was the withdrawal of Haskell. The race organizers issued this statement : "This morning the officials withdrew B. Haskell when it was established that this rider had competed as an independent rider, and had not been reinstated by the N.C.U. as an amateur. Apparently the matter was not fully examined before the event started when Haskell attended to sign on and he was permitted to start on the understanding he held a valid licence."
Haskell felt that as he had been allowed to start, he should be allowed to finish. He felt his position keenly when the riders started from Youghal, leaving him to return home. One of the judges, R. Frood-Barclay, secretary of the B.L.R.C., also left the race.
The Irish team started stage 4 with a penalty of 3 min. for riding the previous day without discs. From a leading group of 21 riders T. Carmody (Ireland), A. Cockburn (Manchester Velo) and Best broke and succeeded in establishing and holding a slight lead at 50 miles. The trio climbed to Derryfinneen (736 feet), where, in a well-contested sprint, Carmody won the prime. Two miles farther on at the Pass of Keighmaneigh (72 miles, 662 feet) he repeated his win.
For almost 20 miles the trio held their lead, which had extended to a minute, but the long drag from Ballylickey up to the drop into Glengariff told and with. only five miles to go they were joined at Suave Bridge by Sharkey, who had led a chasing group from which he had broken away. Cockburn was dropped and at Barony Bridge about a mile from the finish Best crashed on a sharp corner, leaving Sharkey and Carmody to cross the line in 4-15-12 with McCormick, J. Ogden (Bradford). Lackey and A. McPherson 33 sec. slower. Tommy Oldfield, of Huddersfield, took over the race lead, by 23 see., from D. Corfield (Manchester Velo).
J. Lackey, of the Irish national team, won a quiet fifth stage over 106 miles to Limerick.
The sensation on the generally quiet sixth stage from Limerick to Galway (139 miles) was that petrol was sprinkled on the road by a race "ill-wisher," and set fire, causing a barrier of fire across the thoroughfare 10 miles from the finish. Luckily, an officials' car was well ahead of the race and its occupants extinguished the blaze with the aid of sacks. The only inconvenience caused to riders was that they had to negotiate a yard of wet tar. At that point there, was a leading group including R.A.F. men Evans and Jennings, J. Lackey of Ireland and J.. Armitage, Bradford R.C.C. At the finish Lackey had no trouble in outsprinting the group to take the stage Oldfield was not in the break, and consequently race lead passed to Armitage.
Things looked like livening-up a little in the actual race position on the seventh stage from Galway to Longford (150 miles). Oldfield was riding strongly apparently all out to recapture the race, leadership. At Tuam be took the prime and immediately instigated a series of attacks to force a break. However, when at 37 miles a group did hammer home an advantage the Huddersfield man, was not included; the trio "away" being S. Cullen, Ireland, J. Linden, Scotland's St. Christopher's R.C.C., and F. Evans, Manchester Velo. A lone effort saw P. Janes, Solihull C.C., join the leaders and at 65 miles this group had a 1 1/2-min. lead on Rae, who, riding alone, was a further I min. ahead of the field. The chief sensations of the day, all took place at Sligo. Just before the town Lackey broke clear of the bunch. The leading group, racing for the prime, shed a member when Janes fell at a corner in Sligo Cullen took the prime there, and then Lackey was seen to be riding ahead of the break. It transpired that he had taken a short cut in the town. He conferred with race officials who told him to continue. At the finish Lackey again triumphed, outsprinting Evans and Janes. On general classification, W. Hodgson, Birmingham University, took over the lead.
J. Lackey had been penalised three minutes for riding off course. The team managers of the Manchester teams, Orpington R. C., Scotland, Long Eaton and the R.A.F. entered a protest to the effect that the penalty was insufficient for the offence. An appeals committee was set up to determine the matter, and having heard the evidence of the team managers, judges and the Irish team manager, the committee decided that Lackey should not be awarded the seventh stage, nor any bonus times awarded after Sligo. In addition, they decided that Lackey should be penalised four minutes. The decision was not accepted by the Irish team manager and he withdrew the Irish team from the race. Lackey, Cullen and Sharkey did not come to the start, but Talbot and Carmody did and were allowed to compete.
The pattern of the race followed that set up over the last days. A few abortive attempts at breakaways for the first 20 miles or so, followed by a break which materialized and which brought a bunch together from which the winner, and this time the race winner, came.
At 14 miles, just outside Ballymahon, a crash occurred, in which F. Garvey, F. Evans, S. McWhirter, B. Duncan, G. Kinsella, J. Flanagan and M. Higgins were involved. As a result Garvey was taken to hospital and McWhirter retired. Approaching Athlone the level-crossing gates of the railway were closed and held up the riders for three minutes. P. Edghill, Long Eaton, got away first on the opening of the gates and won the prime at Athlone. At 31 m. Mackin, Leigh, Talbot, Jennings, Rae and Edghill had a lead of 30 sec., and at 45 miles the lead extended to 2-10. At 75 miles, nearing Monasterevan, the leaders were 4-45 up on Armitage, P. Ellison and Linden, and 5-2 on the main bunch. At 88 miles Leigh punctured and rejoined the leaders in five miles.
From 93 miles to the finish there was no change in the position, and in the sprint to the line on Dublin Quay Mackin was first across, while Rae, in fifth position :in the sprint, took the race.