Bill Bradley, Southport RCC, holding his 1959 Milk Race trophy
Cycling Weekly has a regular feature of a training ride with a personality over his local roads. Last November it featured former pro Keith Reynolds and his dad Harry riding near their home at Solihull. Some years ago greenjersey had the pleasure of riding with Harry for an hour or so on an Audax in northern France. His recollections are that Harry was in great shape and was very proud of his son Keith. He said little about his own career although he did mention watching Coppi win the Worlds in 1953 the day after Harry had ridden the amateur event.
Of all the recollections from his long career that Harry could have mentioned to the Comic scribbler he chose the 1959 Milk Race. Presumably he still feels the need to justify his scandalous actions. Harry tells a tale that is little more than a whitewash of what really happened and greenjersey feels he must set the record straight. This was almost fifty years ago and greenjersey’s memory is not what it was (but it is sure better than Harry’s!) so here goes. Bradley murdered the field on the trans pennine stage 4 to Morecambe to establish what seemed to be an unassailable lead. Bradley however had to contend with not only a strong Belgian team but also his England “team mates” Ron Coe and Harry Reynolds. The dubious duo’s day job was with the Elswick-Hopper trade team as was national serviceman John Geddes who was riding under the colours of the Army C.U.
On the 140 mile stage to Bath a break escaped that contained three Belgians, Reynolds and eventual second place finisher Geddes. Of course there was only one thing for Reynolds to do. Sit on and protect his leader Bradley and with luck win the stage. Instead Harry worked to pull the break away. Harry now says he did this to consolidate the English team at the head of the G.C. but the only interest he was protecting was his pay masters Elswick-Hopper and he was prepared to shaft his England team-mate Bradley in the process.
England manager Tiny Thomas was outraged and when Reynolds ignored the order to stop pulling Tiny refused to feed him but to no avail. John Perks won the stage and Bradley, who had been obliged to tow the bunch for miles, managed to save his jersey. That night Tiny Thomas, rightly, sent Reynolds and Ron Coe home.
Such was the outrage that next year the Milk Race was amateur only as Independents (semi-pro) were barred. Bradley won again.