Hugh Porter


Hugh Porter

Infobox Cyclist
ridername = Hugh Porter


fullname = Hugh Porter
nickname =
dateofbirth = 1940
dateofdeath =
country = ENG
GBR2
height =
weight =
currentteam =
discipline = Road & Track
role = Rider
ridertype =
amateuryears = 1956-1966
amateurteams = Wolverhampton Wheelers
proyears = 1967
proteams = Mackeson,
majorwins = UK National individual pursuit, 1963, 1964, 1965
UK National team pursuit, 1959
UK Professional individual pursuit, 1967
Tour of the West, 2 stage wins - 1968
Tour of Britain, 1 stage - 1966,
Star Trophy series 1966
updated = October 2008
medaltemplates =

Hugh Porter MBE (born: January 1940) was one of Britain's greatest professional cyclists, winning four world titles in the individual pursuit discipline, as well as a Commonwealth Games gold medal in 1966. Building on his track cycling and road racing experience, he is a commentator on cycle events, notably for the BBC.

Personal life

Porter was born and raised in Wolverhampton and educated at the city's St Peter's School. His father, Joe, was a keen cyclist and at the age of 10, Hugh was taken to the Halesowen velodrome to watch British sprint world champion Reg Harris.

He is married to British Olympic swimming gold medallist, Anita Lonsborough; they met travelling to Tokyo for the 1964 Summer Olympics and married in 1965. [Cite news
url=http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/rides/staffordshire_and_shropshire_with_hugh_porter_article_196395.html
title=STAFFORDSHIRE AND SHROPSHIRE WITH HUGH PORTER
date=2008-03-06
author=Andy Jones
work=Cycling Weekly
accessdate=2008-08-17
] [Cite news
url=http://www.irishnews.com/articles/597/5903/2008/8/12/595028_354058319785Nochance.html
title=No chance to relax in the Water Cube. The Beijing Olympics
author=Nigel Ringland
date=2008-08-12
work=Irish News
location=Belfast
accessdate=2008-08-17
]

Junior career

Aged 16, Porter began racing as a junior for Wolverhampton Wheelers cycling club, finishing third in his first road race. He also became a regular competitor in weekly track league meetings at Wolverhampton’s Aldersley Stadium cycle track.

enior competition

As a senior, he won his first race in July 1958 and by the end of the season another victory and other high placings led to a first-category licence for the 1959 season. First was the highest of three classes dependent on racing successes. Six victories came that season on the road, along with a gold medal on the track as part of his club's team pursuit squad at the national track championships at the Fallowfield Stadium, Manchester. He also won the Midlands title in the individual pursuit, but he remained focused on developing as a road racer.

The early 1960s saw him represent Great Britain in the Tour of Czechoslovakia in 1961 (26th overall) and in the Tour of Ireland. He also finished second that year in the season-long Star Trophy points competition assessed by results in set races through a season, and 17th in his first ride in the Tour of Britain. A year later he was 20th in the same event, and earned selection for the 1962 world championships in Italy to ride both the road race and team time trial events. However, over-exertion in the time trial led to a poor performance in the road race.

First national track title

Porter still dabbled in track racing and in 1963 put in an encouraging showing in the individual pursuit at Aldersley Stadium's Easter international meeting, before winning the final 10-mile Scratch Race. Encouraged, Porter began to consider contesting the national individual pursuit championship. In the meantime, he also raced in the national 25-mile individual time trial championship in Gloucestershire, finishing second. The individual pursuit championship was decided at Fallowfield Stadium; Porter was fastest qualifier and, although headed in the early stages of the final, soon eased into the lead to beat Harry Jackson and land his first individual national title. Porter then travelled to the Rocourt velodrome, near Liège in Belgium, for the 1963 world championship, where he reached the semi-final, to be pipped by 0.18 seconds by Belgian Jean Walschaerts for a place in the final. Nonetheless, he won the third-place ride-off to take a bronze medal.

Olympic disappointment

1964 was dominated by thoughts of the Olympic Games in Tokyo where Porter was already selected to ride the pursuit, though he still defended his British championship, emerging victorious at Herne Hill and shaving almost a second off the championship record. He also tested himself in the national 10-mile time-trial championship, finishing second, and was a member of the Wolverhampton Wheelers squad which won the national team pursuit title. However, while Porter qualified fifth fastest in Tokyo, he was suffering from a cold and was eliminated at the quarter-final stage, and went home medal-less – but he had, at least, met his future wife, fellow Olympian and swimmer Anita Lonsbrough whom he married in Huddersfield on 17 June 1965

While Porter retained his British individual pursuit title and won several road races, 1965 was otherwise not memorable. He was defeated in the quarter-finals of the world pursuit championship in Spain (a timetable change meant he almost missed the contest, and, without his normal pre-race routine, he was narrowly defeated by Colombian Martin Rodriguez in the fastest race of the event).

Commonwealth champion

However, 1966 proved more successful. Porter began with 12 successive road race victories, and won a pursuit match in the Good Friday meeting at Herne Hill. He then rode the Tour of Britain, winning one stage, finishing second on three other stages, taking ninth place overall and second place in the points classification. His road victories assured him of victory in the season-long Star Trophy series. Without any further track races, he travelled to Jamaica for the 1966 Commonwealth Games, where he set a games record in qualifying for the semi-final of the individual pursuit, and then beat Australian Jan Bylsma in the final to take the gold medal.

First professional steps

In early 1967 Porter turned professional, riding for the Mackeson team. The step up to the professional ranks meant that in the individual pursuit he was now racing 5,000m instead of 4,000m, but in his first test at the distance, he emerged victorious, beating Dave Bonner to win the professional title in Leicester. Porter was then selected to race in the world professional pursuit event in Amsterdam. Porter qualified for the final, but, unsettled by a puncture to his opponent, Timeon Groen, that forced a re-run, he was beaten by two seconds. Nonetheless, his silver medal led to contracts from track promoters, including an invitation to ride the London six-day race – his first. He crashed on the fourth day, breaking his collar bone, and missed contracts for other six-day races. However, he recovered and spent much of the winter track-racing in Belgium, finishing the Antwerp six-day before returning to England for the start of the 1968 road season.

Professional success

Porter began 1968 with a time-trial stage victory and second place overall in a three-day race in Bournemouth, plus two stage wins and sixth overall in the Tour of the West. He was then selected for the British team to ride the Tour de France. Having retained his British pursuit title, he was expected to do well in the prologue time trial – and finished seventh of 120 starters. However, an injury returned and he abandoned on the third stage – a retirement that allowed him to concentrate on the world championship in Rome in late August.

He was the fastest qualifier, and recorded his fastest time of the championship in the quarter final, beating Siegfried Adler, then holder of the world professional indoor Hour record. In the final, Porter faced Ole Ritter, later holder of the outdoor hour record, of Denmark and beat him by eight seconds to win his first world title, an achievement that merited the Bidlake Memorial Prize for 1968.

Professional pursuit domination

From 1967 until his retirement from professional racing in 1973, Porter was world professional champion in the 5,000m individual pursuit four times, second place on two occasions and taking bronze on the other. The sequence ran:
*1967 - Amsterdam - silver
*1968 – Rome – gold
*1969 – Antwerp – silver
*1970 – Leicester – gold
*1971 – Varese, Italy - bronze
*1972 – Marseille - gold
*1973 – San Sebastian - gold

Porter continued to race on the road in summer and in winter six-day races. He even won cyclo-cross events. In March 1973, Porter travelled to Buckingham Palace and was made an MBE for services to cycle racing.

Commentary Work

Hugh is still heavily involved in cycling as a both a TV commentator and live PA at various events. He is the voice of cycling for the BBC, voicing the Olympic Games( Track and Road), World Championships (Track and Road) and World Cup Track meetings. He has also worked on the Winter Olympics for the BBC, where he commentated on the skating events. Recently he commentated on the Tour of Britain for ITV4, while also acting as live PA for the event. This threw up the amusing situation where Porter kept referring to the 'stage announcer', who was in fact himself. He had to commentate over the top of his own voice booming through the live PA at the stage finish on ocassion.

Hugh is a crowd favourite when he acts as live PA at various cycling events. He is a regular at the Manchester and Newport Velodromes. He is the voice of the Revolution series at Manchester. When he is commentating for the BBC at major Velodrome events at Manchester his place on PA is usually filled by Eurosport's Mike Smith.

Hugh was presented with a Outstanding Contribution to Cycling Award at the World Track Championships in Manchester in March 2008.

References

Porter, H. (1973) "Champion on Two Wheels" (London: Robert Hale & Co, ISBN 0-7091-5091-1)


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