The Scottish cycling legend Ian Steel is to be buried in full racing regalia next week after his death aged 86.
The Glaswegian, who was the first British cyclist to win a major international road stage on the 1327-mile Peace Race between Warsaw and Prague in 1952, made a plan just two days before his death and asked his relatives to bury him in his Glasgow United top.
The Guardian recounts an episode at the Peace Race, a two-week race founded to unite the countries of the eastern bloc:
“Before the race, Steel and the rest of the six-man British team were presented to Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky, the Russo-Polish military leader. Many years later Steel recalled that, unsure how to address the marshal, each team member formally uttered the word “bollocks” as they shook his hand, not knowing quite how much power lay in Rokossovsky’s grasp.”
The team was his first, in 1946; by 1955 he was the first Scot to take part in the Tour de France. B this time he was a semi-professional with the team run by the bicycle manufacturer Viking Cycles.
Despite all his achievements he never became a full time professional cyclist. As well as working in his brother-in-law Harry Fairburn’s cycle shop before moving into sales, Steel spent much of his time after cycling in and around yachts.
His widow Peggy told the Daily Record: “It’s been a very difficult time for the family but it’s wonderful that Ian is still so warmly remembered for his achievements all those years ago.
“He lived his life as a racer and he will go out as one – he made sure of that.
“The plan only came together two days before Ian died. He was very specific that he wanted to be buried in his Glasgow United top. He joined them in 1946. They were his first club.
“He will be dressed with a racing cap, which was a bit of a trademark, and have his cycling shorts and racing socks on, too, so he will be very well prepared.
“He also insisted on a bottle of Lagavulin – just a small bottle.”
Ian’s other achievements included winning the 1951 Tour of Britain as well as multiple Scottish championships.
Glasgow United club secretary Richard MacPherson said: “We are very sad to see him go. He is a legend of the club and our members are genuinely touched and honoured that he will be wearing a United top at the very end.”
Ian is also survived by two children, Nicola and Roddy, and two grandchildren.
He will be buried during a private ceremony in Largs on Friday, with a reception for old friends at the Ayrshire town’s sailing club at 11.30am.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.