Below is an extract from a great article by Felix Lowe on Eurosport.
The second of our historical Re-Cycle series during this year’s Tour de France doffs its hat to Brian Robinson on the sixtieth anniversary of his remarkable solo win in Stage 20 of the 1959 Tour. Britain’s first ever Tour stage winner tells Felix Lowe how he managed to solo to glory by over 20 minutes in Chalon-sur-Saône, the same Burgundy town that hosts the finale of Stage 7 this year.
Long before British riders won three editions of the Tour de France in six years, before Mark Cavendish amassed 30 Tour stage wins (and counting), before Robert Millar won the polka dot jersey in Paris and Barry Hoban snared a trailblazing eight Tour stages, an unassuming Yorkshireman called Brian Robinson paved the way and made it all possible.
With a career that overlapped the eras of Fausto Coppi and Jacques Anquetil, Robinson was Britain’s pioneering pro, the first British cyclist to make a (meagre) living from the sport, the joint-first to complete the world’s biggest bike race, and the first to win a stage – both by default, and by what was at the time the third-largest post-war margin of victory.
When seven British riders made up the first team from Great Britain to feature in the Tour in 1955, Robinson, just 25-years-old at the time, was one of two finishers: he came an impressive 29th while Tony Hoar was the lanterne rouge in 69th place.
A year later, Robinson was third in the opening stage and notched three more top 10 finishes for the international team, but in 1957 he crashed out in stage 5, having months earlier become the first Briton to finish on the podium of a Monument (third in Milan-Sanremo).
Cycling live: All the races you can watch on Eurosport in 2019
But his real breakthrough came in 1958 when he was awarded Stage 7 of the Tour after his Italian rival Arrigo Padovan was demoted for an irregular sprint.
If that made Britain’s first stage win in the Tour something of an anti-climax, then Robinson ensured that the second win was anything but – riding clear with more than 100km remaining to beat the field by over 20 minutes.
With a little help from Robinson, now 87, Eurosport takes a look back at this landmark moment for British cycling as the world’s biggest bike race returns to Chalon-sur-Saône.