Readers share tales of Tour de France cyclist

Tony Hoar nearing Paris on the last leg of the 1955 Tour de France
Tony Hoar nearing Paris on the last leg of the 1955 Tour de France
jpns-22-07-17 retro July 2017

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What with Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France and gold at the Olympics, there seems to be a resurgence in cycle racing.

I wrote recently asking for information about local man Tony Hoar, who took part in and completed the 1955 Tour de France.

I received many letters about him and include a few memories here including some from the former cycling correspondent of The News, Chris Davies.

Tony came from a well-known family in Emsworth, living in Bridgefoot Path.

He was a member of the local boys’ club and decided to form the Emsworth Cycling Club in the late 1940s.

Although short-lived, it survived long enough for Tony to make a name for himself in the sport.

He road raced and track raced at Alexandra Park in Portsmouth and came to the attention of the national selectors. Tony was then chosen for the English team which competed in the Empire Games held in Vancouver, Canada in 1954.

A complete amateur at the time, Tony had to become a professional to progress and took out a licence the following year when he had the chance to race for the Hercules team in the Tour de France – then, as now, accepted as the pinnacle of the sport.

By the end of the first week, Tony and his team-mate Brian Robinson from Huddersfield were the only British entrants left in the race.

Tony and Brian hung on until the end of the gruelling race with Tony arriving in Paris last, but to a rapturous welcome.

Not long after, Tony emigrated to Canada and on one return visit in 1994, when part of Le Tour memorably passed through this area, he raced in the evening ‘Goodwood Gallops’ where he showed he was more than capable of competing with many a quarter of his age. Tony, now aged 80, lives in Vancouver and once had his own company building cycle trailers.