Obituary: Peter Longbottom

Robin Nicholl
Friday 13 February 1998 00:02 GMT

Peter Longbottom, cyclist: born Huddersfield 13 May 1959; married Lyn Snowdon; died York 10 February 1998.

Peter Longbottom was the heart and soul of his sport. A Commonwealth and Olympic racer whose life was cycling, he died on Tuesday at 38, riding his bike.

Longbottom, a valued and respected teammate to many, notably Chris Boardman, gave unstintingly throughout his career which as an international lasted 17 years until the 1994 Commonwealth Games in British Columbia, where he won a silver medal in the 100km team time trial.

His first Commonwealth medal was a 1990 bronze in the same discipline riding with Boardman, whose career was to take him on to world and Olympic titles, and fame in the Tour de France.

Peter Longbottom was often the unsung worker behind the triumph of others, and that was a role he happily accepted, internationally and at home. Yet ambition was never far away when he raced. If he could not win, then he made sure that it was one of his team.

He was a "must" selection for the international Milk Race for 10 years. Not as a sure-fire success, but as the tactical brain who could organise his men on the road, and lift them with a joke when the day went bad.

Only one thing matched his appetite for the sport. "He was an astonishing eater, but built like a rake," said Jim Hendry, Britain's national team director in the late 1970s, and now chief executive of the British Cycling Federation.

"At one training camp everyone had had double portions. That was enough for them, but Peter finished off a lemon meringue pie intended for six. It all went to fuel his tremendous work-rate for his team.

"He was one of a few who had a lot of success and still held down a full- time job. As a rider you could not buy his experience and knowledge. He was not just a road racer. He tried it all."

The man from Malton twice failed to make the final Olympic selection. When he was picked for the Barcelona Games at 33 he was one of the oldest cyclists to represent his country.

Longbottom retired from racing two years ago, ending a career that was as close to true amateur as anyone could find in these cash-grabbing days. After several years as a surveyor with Ryedale District Council, he had become a director of a building company in York.

Even in repose he was restlessly inspiring others in their racing. "He did not walk away from the sport, but began working with younger riders," said Peter Woodworth, whose club, North Wirral Velo, recruited Longbottom. "That was really impressive," he said.

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