The History of the East Yorkshire Classic.
Prologue by Maurice Hunter
In 1942 the British League of racing cyclists was formed in order to promote road racing on the open roads. This caused furore amongst the traditionalists.
In Hull in 1951 a group of ‘right minded rebels’ formed Kingston Coureurs a club affiliated to ‘The League’. This caused a stir in the city’s cycling scene and many other clubs refused to speak to Coureurs club members who were considered as traitors, whose actions would kill off cycling.
Kingston Coureurs organised three road races in 1952 – The Swanland Dale RR (which was the first RR to be organised in East Yorkshire) The Butlins RR at Filey and the Danesdyke at Flamborough.
Two members Maurice and Dennis Hunter suggested the club run a 2-day event in 1953, but the committee refused.
Not deterred by this they decided to leave and form their own club to run the event.
So it was, in the winter of 1952 the brothers Hunter and a few other members along with two from Hull Thursday Road Club formed the Alpha Road Club.
At that time a years notice had to be given to run events so none were organised in 1953 however, the following year Alpha Road Club promoted two single day races;- the Tour of the Wolds and the Circuit of the Caves, both with great success.
In 1955 the two events took place again and Maurice Hunter saw his brainchild,- a 2-day road race come to life. Ably assisted by younger brother Dennis, they organised the first Alpha RC 2-day as well.
The event saw a full field with many local riders. Starting in Beverley and taking in a very testing course via Wetwang, Fimber, Malton, Pickering, Rosedale moor, Castleton, and Danby and finished just North of Whitby. Barry Trotter broke away around Danby and finished alone.
Accommodation in local hotels had been pre booked.
On the second day the course took the riders over the North Yorks Moors, taking in Blue bank (1 in 4) Devils Elbow at Saltersgate, Pickering, Seamer, Staxton (1in6), Foxholes, Octon, Sledmere, Wetwang and finished North of Beverley.
During the race a group broke clear including race leader Barry Trotter and, lying 6th Stan Harrison of Kingston Phoenix. Unfortunately Barry punctured, but a very sporting gesture from Stan who gave Barry a wheel saw him on his way, and enabled him to take overall victory in the first Alpha RC 2 day 1955.
The event was run on a shoestring, but broke even. It was a great success despite Maurice losing his brother Dennis and two other members on whom he was relying to national service. People as they are today were press ganged into assisting. Stan Harrison’s father supplied his motorbike and with Trevor Wilkinson riding pillion, they laid out the route marking and prime flags.
In 1964 Hull Thursday Road Club took over the organisation of the event, now known as the White Rose GP. The event included Thursdays’ own Bill Holmes, Winner of the 1961 Tour of Britain and Olympic Silver Medallist.
Over the following years many riders who took part were to become the mainstay of the professional cycling scene in the 70’s and 80’s, including Sid Barras, Doug Dailey, and Keith Lambert.
In 1971 the event attracted outside sponsorship from the Zerny dry-cleaning company, a partnership, which lasted until 1976. The route was also changed to an out and back run to Scarborough including the climb of Hackness hairpins.
In 1971 the event saw a field of 60 riders at a time when any field over 40 required government dispensation; this marked the event as one of the highest quality events in the country.
The quality of the ‘Zerny 2-Day’ saw it receive extensive coverage in editorials such as ‘International Cycle Sport’ and in 1976 the race was used as an Olympic selection event and saw the whole of the GB track and road teams taking part.
1977 heralded the arrival of new sponsors – Skeltons Bakery, a company who were to sponsor the event for 18 years until 1994. A new format was also adopted for the ‘Bread Race’, with the race concentrating on the challenging climbs to be found around Bishop Wilton and Garrowby in the Yorkshire Wolds. This race format gave the locals a chance to race on home roads. Notable performances by Mark Robinson of Hull Coureurs who took a stage win in 1983 after breaking away in the first of the 85 miles. Paul Peacock also took a stage in 1994, coming from a bunch sprint; the Cottingham Coureurs man got the better of riders such as Paul Curran, Wayne Randall, and the late Pete Longbottom.
In 1995 the word classic was used in the events name, as it became the ‘Lands Food Classic’ sponsored by Lands Food products until 1997.
In 1997 the event became the Pro-cam Classic.
In 1999 the East Riding of Yorkshire County Council became the events main sponsor and the event became known as the ‘East Riding of Yorkshire Classic’. Although always attracting top riders, from 1999 the starting line up once again began to resemble that of the Zerny era.
In 2000 and 2001 the race formed part of the Premier Calendar series and two top-level riders took the honours – Jon Clay (who took a bronze medal in the Olympic Games team pursuit) and John Tanner, national road race champion, competitor in the Sydney Olympic road race, and overall winner of the Premier Calendar series.
In 2002 after a run of 47 events the event was not held, as an organiser could not be found, to replace long time organiser and original event winner Barry Trotter who stepped down.
In 2002 Andy Cawley and Martin Cockerill decided (were talked into) becoming joint race directors to resurrect the event in 2003.
The East Riding Council agreed once again to support the event as main sponsor with a number of local companies offering support as event partners to assist with the budget.
With a dedicated team recruited and in place, the 2003 event became the ‘East Yorkshire Classic’ and was to be a single day event over a 96 mile course. Starting and finishing in Beverley it would be an out and back course with 3 laps of a 14-mile circuit and taking in some of the toughest climbs of the Yorkshire Wolds.
Police permission was granted for a maximum field of 120 riders and prizes for the event were in excess of £2000.
2004 and 2005 saw the event included in the premier calendar series, with overall prize lists touching £3000.
After the event in 2005 and good run of three events for the new organisation team, application was submitted for the ‘East Yorkshire Classic’ to be the British National Road Race Championships in 2006.
For more information on the race history please view the full pdf document.