Mirfield-born Brian Robinson, Britain's first Tour de France stage-winner, dies aged 91

Robinson paved the way for the country's cycling success in the years to come. Credit: PA

One of Britain's earliest cycling trailblazers, Yorkshire's Brian Robinson, has died at the age of 91.

Born in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, Robinson's achievements on two wheels paved the way for the country's cycling success in the years to come.

Long before Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome or Mark Cavendish, the humble Yorkshireman was the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France and the first to even complete cycling's greatest race.

His grandson Jake Womersley announced his death on Twitter this morning.

Robinson was part of the first British team to compete in the Tour de France - the biggest race in the world of cycling - reaching Paris on the final stage in 1955 and becoming the first Briton to cross the finish line.

Three years later he took Britain's first stage win, following it up with another - by a full 20 minutes - the year after that in 1959.

Robinson's Cycling Achievements

His success was not limited solely to the Tour.

In 1961 he was the first British rider to win a major stage race with victory in the prestigious Criterium du Dauphine.

Among his other notable results, he finished fourth in La Fleche Wallone in 1955, eighth overall in the 1956 Vuelta a Espana, and was the first Briton on a Monument podium with third in Milan-Sanremo in 1957.

The cycling world has been paying tribute to the unassuming Robinson who, after retiring, returned to live in Yorkshire in relative anonymity, working as a builder and raising his family.

He cycled with Huddersfield Road Club for more than 70 years, and was eventually recognised more widely for his achievements when he became an ambassador for the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in Yorkshire in 2014.

He continued in the role for the legacy event, the Tour de Yorkshire, and in 2018 he was able to watch his grandson Jake Womersley compete in the race.

Brian Robinson (right) in his role as ambassador for the Yorkshire leg of the Tour de France 2014 Credit: PA Images

Early Life and Career

Born in 1930 and raised during wartime, his first memories of cycling were of riding the 30 or so miles from his home in Mirfield to Harrogate to visit relatives once a month - simply because it was the only transport available.

After riding for the Army Cycling Team while doing his national service, Robinson joined the Yorkshire-based Ellis Briggs team in 1954 and was quickly signed to the nation's top squad Hercules a year later, finding his way to the start-line of the Tour de France.

The only way a Briton could sustain a career in cycling was to move to the continent, but it was full of challenges. It was often a hand-to-mouth existence, living in digs and racing as much as possible as the event hotels were more comfortable than staying at home.

He sold his car to fund his expenses and after he first married his wife Audrey, the couple lived in a caravan on the Cote d'Azur.

But by the early 1960s Robinson decided this was no life for a young family, retired, and moved straight back home to Mirfield.

Brian carried on cycling right up until the end, even surviving being knocked off his bike by a car when he was 84.

He could often still be found in the Yorkshire hills on his e-bike, and his legacy in the sport will continue to inspire for many years to come.