Monday, May 27, 2024

Ian Banbury – ‘Kamikaze’ for whom Olympic bronze wasn’t good enough!


HomeInterviewsIan Banbury - 'Kamikaze' for whom Olympic bronze wasn't good enough!
Ian Banbury
Ian Banbury.

We’ve opened the ‘Whatever Happened To’ file again; and this time it’s Ian Banbury; twice British Junior and once Senior Professional Pursuit Champion, British Junior and Professional Road Race Champion not to mention Olympic team pursuit bronze medallist.

He won the junior pursuit in ’74 and ’75, taking the junior road race title too in ’75.

We opened by asking Ian about his training in those days:

“The late Les Jordan was my coach, we did a bit of everything, got the miles in during the winter, gym, intervals.”

An Olympic bronze medal in the team pursuit in Montreal 1976, that must have been a great experience for a teenager?

“Not really, we didn’t go out there to get bronze.

“Tom Pinnington was the manager but I didn’t agree with his choice of line-up; I was the youngest so couldn’t really say much but I’d have given Steve Heffernan, who was the reserve on the squad, a chance to ride, he was a strong guy.”

You turned professional in 1978, how did you get the ride with the Holdsworth team?

“I broke a leg in two places and fractured my skull in a crash in 1977 so the year was largely written off.

“For season 1978 I asked Roy Thame for a ride – he ran the Holdsworth professional team but was also chairman of the amateur club I rode for, the Hemel Hempstead CC.

“The Hemel jersey was actually the same orange and blue as the Holdsworth one but without the lettering.” 

Ian Banbury
Ian Banbury, Holdsworth Campagnolo.

You took to the racing well with a lot of good results as a neo pro, how did the British professional class accept you?

“I took to the racing, yes, but I took a while to gain acceptance, they said I was a ‘Kamikaze’ – I’d pass on the inside on corners in crits and that wasn’t the done thing, too dangerous they said.”

Holdsworth folded and you went to Elswick Falcon for 1979, how was that experience?

“Yeah, it was a good team with Bill Nickson [ex-TI Raleigh Tour de France rider and Milk Race winner, ed.], Phil Corley [1978 British Professional Road Race Champion, ed.] and Nigel Dean [highly experienced British professional with good performances on the continent in races such as The Circuit of the Port of Dunkirk and Championship of Flanders, ed.]

“I used to train with Phil, Nigel and my Hemel team mate, John Dowling.”

Then MAN VW Viking for 1980.

“That was a good team with guys like Paul Carbutt who broke the record for the Land’s End to John O’Groats ultra-distance record and Dudley Hayton [hugely experienced roadman with long list of top results as an amateur and professional including a Milk Race stage, ed.]

“That was my best year with seven wins; Sid Barras [winner of some 200 races including a Tour of Switzerland stage, ed.] had nine victories, I think.

“I’d put a good winter in and it paid off.”

Falcon again for 1981?

Ian Banbury
Ian Banbury, Elswick Falcon in 1979.

“Yes with Phil Corley and Keith Lambert [twice British Professional Road race Champion, ed.]

“I was on the podium in the national criterium and pursuit championships.”

Coventry Eagle for ’82, how was that experience?

“Not so good.

“I didn’t see eye to eye with the team management.

“I won a stage in the Girvan Three Day at Easter and was on the podium in the pro pursuit champs but I ended up not riding the last 10 races of the season because of my differences with management.”

Single sponsored with Moores in ’83?

“I couldn’t get a ride with a team for 1983 so – with help from ex-pro Tony Gowland – I got a single sponsor deal with Moores bike shop in Hatfield where I also worked as a mechanic.

“I had some nice wins like the Tour of Delyn and the good thing was that as a single sponsored rider I didn’t have to split my prize money.”

Then you had three years with Moducel.

“Yes, good years, I was with them until I retired.

“I had Steve Joughin [twice British Professional Road race Champion, ed.] and Sid Barras as team mates.

“Sid was perhaps past his peak by then but could still win races and he had so much experience, I learned a lot from him. 

“I won the pro pursuit in ’84 with them and the pro road race championship in ’85.

“The road race gave me a lot of satisfaction; it was on the Isle of Man and with 13 miles to go Sid told me to go, so I did, I wasn’t sure I could hold out but I did to win solo by eight seconds.”

Ian Banbury
Nigel Dean, Steve Joughin and Ian Banbury. Photo©Phil O’Connor

You quit the sport early?

“I had a really bad crash after I came back from pre-season training in Mallorca.

“There was snow on the roads and a car was chasing me down a hill. I could see that if I didn’t get out of his way he was going to run me over so I opted for the hedge.

“I landed in a field and gave myself a severe neck injury, I had to wear a neck brace collar for ages and after one-and-a-half hours on the bike I was in pain.

“I had no results, lost my motivation and quit the sport.”

Which team did you most enjoy being a part of?

“I enjoyed my time at all of them, except Coventry Eagle.”

Did you ever consider going to the continent?

“In 1979 when I rode the Scottish Milk Race I was fourth in the Prologue, second on Stage Three and fourth on Stage Four – the Belgian Ijsboerke team were riding and offered me a contract.

“I didn’t take them up on it, I felt I wasn’t experienced enough and then there was the ‘naughty’ side.

“I used to go over to Belgium for two or three weeks, stay at Mrs. Deene’s and ride the kermises, you could race every day – but it was an eye-opener, there was a lot of kitting up going on in those races and that put me off the idea of going to the continent.”

What did you do after you quit the bike?

“I became a lorry driver, I went through my HGV driving test and my dad got me a job.

“I did that for 12 years until I was made redundant.”

Any regrets?

“I wish now that I’d taken up the Ijsboerke offer and tried to avoid the ‘naughty’ side of the continent…”