INTRODUCTION: The 1977 British Milk Race started on Monday (30 May) with 66 cyclists taking part.
INTRODUCTION: The 1977 British Milk Race started on Monday (30 May) with 66 cyclists taking part. Strong wind prevented any breakaways and there was a scramble for the finish line at the end of the first stage in Norwich in eastern England. But it was eventually the experienced Polish rider, Ryszard Szurkowski, who finished first and took the day's honours.
SYNOPSIS: Sweden were hoping for a good result from their team although none of their riders were among the strongest in the international field. The Swiss team were in a similar position with none of their men finishing high in the preliminary time trials. The whole race is in the form of a 12-stage tour round Britain, covering a total of 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometres).
Poland are favourites for both team and individual prizes. They demonstrated their strength in the opening time trial with four men finishing in the top ten. Jan Bieniok, won the event in three minutes 34.1 seconds -- only three-fifths of a second ahead of Szurkowski. It seemed certain that one of these two men would win the first stage as the riders set off from Southend.
The first stage of the Milk Race followed the sea front for a while and then took a course through the gently undulating countryside to Norwich 94 miles (151 kilometres) away. The Dutch are fielding a strong team for the tour but disaster struck one of their riders during the first time trial. Piet van Kollenburg crashed shortly after the start and although he remounted, finished almost a minute down on Bieniek. He was there for the first stage race though, and helped his team into second place overall. However, their time was shared with Britain, the Soviet Union, Sweden and New Zealand.
The Pole, Szurkowski, won the day. But with the first six riders all on the same time, anything could happen during the next eleven stages.