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Holdsworth-Campagnolo Pro Team

The Early Days

Roy Thame joined WF Holdsworth in Mar 1953 as the Putney shop manager. He was in the Hemel Hempstead Cycling Club (NW London) and was club TT champion in 1952. The club colours were orange and blue. Roy gave up competitive cycling in 1958, but was active on the race scene as a masseur and provided neutral service support, from a yellow Austin Mini pickup. In 1962 Roy supplied Bob Addy (Ross Wheelers) with a Shop Holdsworth bike, the frame and equipment to be renewed annually.

For 1963 Bob agreed to join the Hemel Hempstead CC, where Roy similarly supported Mike Shea and Jim Hinds, forming a small team with Bob Addy's father as manager. They were given beautiful copper plate finished Holdsworths. These were made by Reg Collard in the Putney shop. Reg meticulously hand filed every lug, "as a frame-builder he was second to none" (Bob Addy). These frames were probably not any particular model, but bespoke Holdsworths.

In 1964 Jim Hinds left and Mike Brown arrived, a fourth, Alan Perkins joined them later. The squad rode lime green Holdsworth Stradas with white panels and red, lower case, comic/casual lettering. Reg Collard built some frames used in the 1964 Olympics.

In 1965 Bob Addy became an 'Independent' class rider, backed by Falcon, but that year the UCI deemed that Independent riders would be re-classed as professionals. Up until then the 'indies' could race with the amateurs or the pros. They could receive sponsorship and a financial retainer, but were independent of either class. With the UCI reclassification, they had to turn Pro. or take a year out before being reinstated as amateur. In Feb 1966 Bob headed to the South of France, but after an impressive performance in Belgium was signed there in 1966 by Terrot, as a full professional.

In 1966 the British Professional Cycle Racing Association (BPCRA) was formed, Roy Thame became Chairman (a position held for many years) and pro races were organised in the UK. Suddenly there were 70+ UK registered pros, with plenty of teams and events. Optimism in the UK was high, tempting some riders back from the continent. Despite this, the instability and low basic pay for a pro failed to tempt many top amateurs and the annual flow, from amateur to pro in the late 60's /early 70's, was just a trickle.

In Nov/Dec 1966 Bob Addy wanted to return to Britain, he approached Roy Thame who agreed to sponsor him as a UK based pro. This was a shop thing, W.F.Holdsworth, it had nothing to do with the Holdsworthy factory. A special Holdsworth frame was made for Bob by Reg Collard. They adopted the Hemel Hempstead CC colours of orange and blue. The neutral service Austin pick-up usually carried three spare bikes, one was a silver Holdsworth (with red block lettering) in Bob's size (23.5").
1967 was Bob Addy's first racing season with W F Holdsworth. Richard Brodrick (20), known as "Brod" was recruited as the shop and race mechanic. A young local customer, Ray Robinson (15), sometimes helped in the shop and became Brods pupil, he often rode shotgun in the little yellow pickup (repainted orange eventually, but still yellow in this ICS pic July 1969 issue). Ray later worked at Anerly for a short while. Others who sometimes helped were Eric Martin and driver Kurt Goldschmidt. The mini pickup in 1969
1968 Roger Newton was recruited and raced with Bob Addy. They rode the 'Tour Of The South West' (Devon/Cornwall) as a 2 man squad. It was the last year the Tour de France was based on National teams. Ten British riders started the TdF that year, including Bob Addy on his "Italia" Holdsworth Professional and Colin Lewis on his Condor, with Alec Taylor as British team manager. Colin retired after serious bike trouble at a critical time on the Roubaix stage. Later, Bob was regaining his strength after a bout of stomach trouble when he crashed twice, on successive days, approaching the Pyrenees. Both his hands went numb, so he couldn't brake, and he had double-vision, he had to retire. Four of the British squad reached Paris. ICS adverts 1968
Bob Addy in Manx Race
In 1968 Bob took 3rd place in the Manx Trophy, and 5th in the Brit. Pro. Road Race Championships (BRRC), but it was very difficult for Bob and Roger to compete against full squads like Falcon, Carlton and Condor-Mackeson.

Holdsworthy step in

Bob felt he would have to join another team if Holdsworth couldn't sponsor a full squad. Roy approached Dave Goodall, Sales Manager of Holdsworthy, who agreed to help sponsor a team. Holdsworthy were the sole UK importers of many quality brands. Campagnolo agreed to be a main co-sponsor, others like Regina, Fiamme and D'Allesandro agreed to be sub-sponsors. The sponsorship arrangement was that Holdsworthy provided all the cycles, equipment, clothing and cash for bonuses. The shop, W.F. Holdsworth, built the wheels, did all the organising, provided the back-up service and team cars, the first being a 1966 Ford Corsair 2 Litre GT (bought 1969). Roy Thame was the Team Director / manager / masseur and handled all personnel matters. Roy became Chairman of the British Pro. Cycle Racing Assoc. and held that position for many years.

1968: Team Formation

Riders like Les West wanted to stay amateur for the Sept 1968 Olympic Road Race in Mexico City, but immediately afterwards the full Holdsworth-Campagnolo team was formed for the 1969 season. Dave Nie
1969 Bob Addy Les West Roger Newton Dave Nie Reg Barnett Alan Bridges
The 1969 Team Pic ICS Advert Jan 1969
Team (52K and 13K)
Bob Addy (captain), Brod (mechanic) and Hughie Woods (driver/helper). "Odd riders were brought in for some Continental races, to make the numbers up (8), but they were never full-time members"..."this pic was taken March 1969, by Easter the bikes were fitted with new Campagnolo brakes...Les West got them last. HC was the first UK team to get these, the other teams were envious".(Brod)

Rider Details

Les West (b 11 Nov 1943) from Stoke-on -Trent was probably Britain's best amateur when he signed with Holdsworth, the team he stayed with until he retired from the Pro scene in 1978. He had won the Manx International amateur trophy in 1964 and '66, the Milk Race "Tour of Britain" in 1965 and '67, and had taken second place in the world amateur road race championship.

Roger Newton (third in BRRC 1966, second in 1967) rode with Bob Addy for some of 1968, left in 1969 (presumably at end of season)
Les West in July 1970
Dave Nie (second in BRRC 1969, narrowly beaten in the sprint)

Reggie Barnett, a top sprinter, joined from Clive Stuart & left at the end of 1969 to join Falcon.

Alan Bridges worked at Anerly and was backed by the MD Dave Goodall. He was a very able racer, rode a fast 25 mile TT, but struggled at professional level. Despondent after a couple of months he did only local events until the end of the year, when he was replaced by Mike Cowley.

Bike Details

Unfortunately the top frame in the Holdsworthy range (until at least Oct 69) was a tourer, the Fastback Super Mistral, so the first squad was given custom shop frames (based on the Colnago and approved by the riders. RT), made by Reg Collard. Reg was a craftsman, he produced 2-3 frames per week. Sometimes Reg would make them in the shop, other times at his home in Hemel Hempstead. They were enamelled by Broma Art Enamellers of Romford, London, whose orange was always lighter than the factory orange. Initially the Team frame (See Dale's) design was orange with kingfisher blue panels and large white letters, outlined in red. These frames were actually Holdsworth 'Italia range' Professionals. They had little stick-on italia decals on the fork blades (see Professional model page for details). There was no chrome plating on 1969 team bikes (Brod). "The Pro Team riders were usually issued with a new frame each year and their previous frame was re-enamelled and became their training bike or team spare".(RT)

1969 had its "settling in" difficulties, as would be expected.

  • It was the first year Roy Thame & HC had a full team to organise.
  • For most of the team riders is was their first Pro year.
  • It was the first time they rode together as a team.
  • There was a big ability difference between some of the riders.
  • They could expect little income from bonuses, so pay would be low.
Yet in 1969 Bob Addy won the Vaux Grand Prix, a 116 mile race around the hills and moors of Northern England, which had become a full pro event in 1967. The ads right announce surprisingly good results.

The teams first continental sojourn was for the 1969 Amstel Gold in Holland, Ti Carlton went too. Nobody from the newly formed HC finished and only one from Ti Carlton. It was a salutory lesson for both teams, they were out of their depth.
ICS Advert Sept 1969 ICS Advert Oct 1969

Top UK Team 1970

Another top UK rider, Colin Lewis , was signed (1969) to replace Roger Newton, starting 1970. Colin had been racing in France in 1967 when two Pro offers arrived. One was from ACBB in Paris the other from Condor-Mackeson in UK. "The pro scene here (UK) looked so good I said yes to Mackeson...I turned pro for £4 per week", the average UK wage was about £25 per week then. In 1967 he finished the Tour De France (84th) and won the British Road Race Championship. With a pay rise to £8 per week, he went on to win the British Pro Road title again in 1968. In 1969 he moved to Holdsworth-Campagnolo, where he stayed until he retired from racing in 1975. In 1970 the team had fewer riders, but was stronger. Colin Lewis Feb 1970 Colin Lewis July 1970
Colin Lewis

Advert Feb 1970It was clear to Roy Thame and Holdsworthy that the frame position was not ideal. The team promoted Holdsworthy products, yet the frame was not from the factory range. Late in 1969 or early 1970 Bob Addy returned from Belgium with a frame built to ultra close clearances. This feature so impressed Holdsworthy they decided to adopt it on a new 'Professional' model. Features of Reg Collard's WF Holdsworth Professional were adopted too, like longer lug points. The Holdsworthy Professional appeared in 1970, but the team still used WF Holdsworth Professional's for this year.
1970 frames had chrome forks and 10" chainstay chrome (Brod).

1970 Bob Addy Les West Colin Lewis Dave Nie Mike Cowley

Team Picture 1970They raced in the Tour of Majorca, the 5 day Tour of Catalania, etc. Les West won the British Road Race Championship with Colin Lewis coming third. In the 1970 Vaux Grand Prix (its final year, won by Barry Hoban) Colin Lewis came second and Les West third.

Les entered the 1970 World Championship, a top one day race being held that year in Leicester. His preparation was far from ideal in August, "with two laps to go he dropped off the back of the bunch to the support car, he said he wanted to pack. After stern words he got back to the bunch. Next minute he was off in a four man break, with Felice Gimondi, that went to the line. We were amazed, he wanted to pack then he's off like a rocket. Les was no sprinter and, although it was close, he came in 4th" (Brod). This was a brilliant result, Les also won the Isle of Wight three day event, the Grand Prix de Nations time trial and other road races, 20 in all. The team had 23 victories, doing well in the Players Tour of the S.W.

Team PictureIn 1970 Holdsworth-Campagnolo became the top British racing team. It later became the most successful British Pro team of all time (Says Ken Denny, pointing out that the excellent Ti-Raleigh team was Dutch!). After an
approach by International Cycle Sport, Les West completed his autobiography 'The West Way' in Dec 1970. On p51 he pays tribute to Hughie Woods and Kurt Schmidt who 'do all the mechanical jobs for us'.

1971 Bob Addy Les West Colin Lewis Dave Nie Mike Cowley Gary Crewe Geoff Wiles

All the riders were provided with factory made Holdsworth(y) Professional frames for 1971, Campagnolo equipped throughout. They were also supplied with a track bike, probably Holds Pro too. There were 3 team spares along with special machines for time-trials and pursuits. The squad had team clothing for road and track.

Gary Crewe joined the team, a top amateur from Devon, he had been given a Reg Collard made Professional to use for the previous year or two.

1971 catalogue Pro  Road and Track

The team car was often driven by Hughie Woods or Mike Shonleben, Roy Thame's nephew. Mike joined the company in 1971 and was still running the W.F.Holdsworth shop on the Lower Richmond Rd, thirty+ years later. Bob Addy resigned Nov/Dec 1971, said to be over a dispute with Roy regarding tactics. He later rode with some success for Ron Kitching.

1972 Les West Colin Lewis Dave Nie Gary Crewe Geoff Wiles Brian Tadman Peter Kisner

Colin Lewis Only Les West remained from the original line-up. In 1971 and 1972 Colin Lewis won the teams "Golden Wheel" Award for being the best all rounder in the squad. Peter Kisner was the Dutch National Champion 1970.

Garry Crewe in 1972 or 73 Gary Crewe was a top sprinter and roadman who promptly repaid Holdsworth by winning the 1972 BRRC with Les West second. "In that race all the teams just sat on HC, particularly on Les whose every move was countered. So Gary went up the road and scored a great victory, Les still came second" (Brod). After the 1972 season invitations arrived to compete in the prestigious European Classics.

1973 Les West Geoff Wiles Colin Lewis Gary Crewe Nigel Dean Brian Tadman Peter Kisner
1973 team picture Les West 1972-73 Geoff Wiles 1972-73 Colin Lewis 1972-73 Gary Crewe 1973 Nigel Dean May 1973 Brian Tadman Peter Kisner 1972 or 73
Nigel Dean is not shown in this 1973 team pic, though Brod and Ray (and the June '73 pic above) give him in the line-up. Brod left early in 1973 on the Will's Grand Prix (Tour of the West).
For the 1973 Tour of Switzerland the composite "Holdsworth-Bantel" team needed eight riders, so Bob Jones was signed as the eighth man. The team was: Sid Barras, Horton, R.Smith, N Dean, C Lewis, G Crewe, L West and Bob Jones. There were two mechanics (Hughie Woods was one), a masseur (Roy Thame) and two team cars. (Belgian pro. Jean Ronsmans stood in too for a race at sometime). Alec Taylor (ex BLRC & NCU Road Race Champion) was employed by the Holdsworthy Co as a representative. He assisted with the team. Alec was a great asset, he was half Belgian and could speak Belge, French, German, Spanish, Italian and was very familiar with continental racing.

In the 1973 BRRC Les West again came second, after losing a two man sprint finish with Carltons Brian Jolly. New team sub-sponsors were Cinelli, Mavic, Sedis and Clement. At the end of the year, Gary Crewe went to TI Raleigh Euro Team.

1974 Les West Geoff Wiles Colin Lewis Nigel Dean Keith Lambert Jock Kerr Daryl Brassington
1974 Team

Keith Lambert had turned pro with Falcon in 1972 and stayed for two seasons. After 1973 he moved to Holdsworth, promptly rewarding them with a prestigious win in the 1974 British Road Race Championship (he won it again in 1980, and retired from racing in 1987 after 15 years as a pro).

Although Brod left in 1973, he started turning out for HC again in 1974 for major races, like the 1975 Tour of Switzerland.

Les West and Alec Taylor June 1974
1974 Team
Les West in 1974
The second support car is shown here, a Ford Cortina (Mark 2) 1600E, in team colours.
on a shop Pro (Brod)

1975 Les West Geoff Wiles Phil Corley Nigel Dean Keith Lambert Jock Kerr Daryl Brassington
The 1975 Squad at Speed

In 1975 Les West won the BRRC with Keith Lambert second. Colin Lewis retired from racing, with a total of 38 Professional victories to his credit. He set up the Colin Lewis cycle shop (Paignton?) in 1976. By 1976 Bob Addy was reinstated to the amateur class. This brochure (right) is after June 1976, but the pic is 1975.

1976 Les West Geoff Wiles Phil Corley Keith Lambert Jock Kerr

Les West early to mid 1976At the start of the 1976 season Ray Robinson joined as team mechanic. Nigel Dean had gone, becoming team Captain with Falcon. Geoff Wiles won the BRRC in June1976 with Phil Corley 3rd.

Holdsworth-Campagnolo had now won 5 of the last 7 BRRC's, all gruelling road races of over 130 miles, in fact they had won the last 3 on the trot, an unprecedented record.

Aids 1976 Page 44The 1974 BRRC was won by Holdsworth Campagnolo team rider Keith Lambert.
The 1975 BRRC was won by HC rider Les West (with Keith Lambert second).
The 1976 BRRC was won by HC rider Geoff Wiles (with Phil Corley third) .
All riding Holdsworth Professionals. This was a unique hat-trick.

1977 Les West Geoff Wiles Phil Corley Keith Lambert Jock Kerr Richard {Sam} Foster

Les West was a brilliant time trialist. He had a go at the London - Bath - London record. This was about 170 miles. They started about Reading early in the morning, with the idea of getting into (and out of) London before the traffic got heavy. Inside London Les soon dropped the support car (with Ray Robinson as mechanic) and built up a couple of minutes lead. However a motorist jumped a red light and collided with Les, his rear wheel was smashed. Les was unperturbed, he was well known for his laid back attitude to life, but it cost him minutes waiting for the support car and a new bike. He still broke the record.

Geoff Wiles took 3rd in the 1977 BRRC. Some European exploits were: The team competed in the Pro Tour of Britain and Scottish Milk Race of 1977 and 1978. They rode the Paris-Roubaix in 1977. They entered the Amstel Gold in Holland. Some Belgian tours, like the Tour of Flanders and the Tour of Ghent. Also the Tour of Spain.

1978 The Professional frame lost the blue panels, changing to orange with blue lettering. The team vests were a new style too. Two new team cars, both Ford Cortina (Mark 3) estates, echoed the changes. 1978 Pro SL

1978 Les West Geoff Wiles Phil Corley Phil Bayton Dudley Hayton Ian Banbury
1978 Team Les West Feb 1978 Geoff Wiles in UK, Feb 78 Phil Corley Feb 1978   Dudley Hayton 1978 Ian Banbury Feb 1978

1978 teamThis 1978 team pic was taken on "winter training" on the Cote D'Azur in Feb 1978. Geoff Wiles stayed in the UK, to recover from a collision with a car. This was the final Squad.

Phil Corley won the 1978 BRRC (he was 3rd in 1976). This was the 6th team Holdsworth-Campagnolo victory. (Colin Lewis's wins in 1967 and 1968 don't count as he joined in 1969)

The cost of running a Pro Team successfully became too much, so the team was disbanded at the end of the 1978 season and Les West retired from racing. There were about 50 licensed pros in Britain, but the economic situation was very difficult, there had been high inflation in the 1970's and now severe industrial unrest. The recession killed advertising budgets. In 1979 the Tour of Britain was gone, by 1980 only three pro. teams remained; Carlton, Falcon and Viking. The low passed but it was the end of the Holdsworth-Campagnolo Pro Team.

Holdsworth sold a lot of bikes on the success of their racing team, for a couple of seasons the team colour scheme was their most popular finish.

Dudley Hayton came in third in the BRRC 1979 and 1980, second in 1985.

Les West joined Holdsworthy as a Sales Rep, it was thought his fame and popularity would guarantee his success, but he was such a nice guy he didn't like to push for orders. Bill Hurlow recalled that Les was absolutely elated when he arrived at Oakfield Rd with his first order, it was for a number of bikes, only to be told that Holdsworth had recently dropped that model! Les moved to BT and worked for 25 years as an Installation Engineer. He retired from competitive cycling in Oct 2010, one month before his 67th birthday, doing a two up time trial of over 25 miles with an average speed of 27mph!

With particular thanks to:
Dick Brodrick, Ray Robinson, Mike Shonleben, Roy Thame, Bob Addy & Dave Watts,
Dale Brown
of Cycles de Oro, Greensboro, N. Carolina... 'Classic Rendezvous'.
Cycling Weekly, 17 Feb 96 'The Professionals' by Tony Bell
Cycling Weekly, 24 Feb 96 'Boom and Bust' by Tony Bell