PEZ Retro Talk: John Trevorrow Part 2
In part 1 of Ed Hood’s interview with Australian star, John Trevorrow, he covered much of his career as a rider. In part 2 Trevorrow describes his transition from Euro rider back to Australian pro, and his involvement in the Herald Sun Tour stage race and the Orica-GreenEDGE team. Plus many more stories in the Trevorrow style.
PEZ: Why go back to Oz?
Hard to answer this one. Family I guess because I had four kids and a small bike shop business and the money wasn’t that great in pro cycling back then unless you were a superstar.
PEZ: You won three consecutive Aussie Road Nationals – that must have been tough, you’d be heavily marked?
Yes, it was pretty special. I won my first title as an amateur in 1970 to get to the Commonwealth Games and then won my first Pro title in 1978. The ones that stand out were ‘79 where David Allan (Don’s young brother) and I lapped the field on a six kilometer circuit with Terry Hammond third at one lap, fourth, fifth and sixth at two laps and the rest at three laps down. “Dumps” was David’s nickname and he was a bit of a tortured soul, anyway he was on fire that day but I managed to out sprint him. The next year was at Sandown raceway and was probably one of my best ever races. Dumps and I were having a bit of negative battle back in the bunch. We were half a lap down on a circuit of about five K and Dumps pulled out of the race and said; ‘see you later ex-Australian champ.’ In the break was Peter Besanko (Don and David’s cousin) plus a group of the main protagonists. I started to chase with a couple of guys and ended up alone chasing with the lead guys trying to hold me off but I managed to close the gap about two to go and won the kick beating Peter.
The next year Dumps got his revenge. We were racing in Berri South Australia and in the end there were four of us left on the final lap – Peter Besanko (Bulldog) and Dumps plus Clyde Sefton and myself. Naturally Dumps and Bulldog were working together so Clyde and I made a bit of a pact to help each other out. Now, if I win this I become the first man to win four in a row. Russell Mockridge and I both had three – although he was killed before he could win number four. As we approached the finish Bulldog took a flyer but Sefton just lifted the pace and we caught him about 400 m out. Clyde just kept lifting the pace with Dumps on his wheel and then me. As we approached the 250 Clyde lifted the pace and at around the 200 I made my run.
This is where it got ugly – I should have just sprinted for the line but as I drew next to Dumps I stalled for just a second to make sure he didn’t get out for second place but Dumps then grabbed me in the stomach grabbing a handful of midriff and clothes and just sat up. I swung my arm and got loose but Sefton had gained a couple of lengths and I had lost a bit of speed. I rattled home but Clyde beat me by a wheel. Dumps and I had a bit of a dance afterwards but it was no good. Clyde didn’t even know what had gone on behind him.
PEZ: And you won three Sun Tours. . .
Yes, the first one was pretty special. It was always the biggest race in Australia because it got serious media attention when our sport rarely got that. As a youngster we used to have Sun Tour riders staying at our house – my Dad had been a pro rider in Aus – I can remember listening to stories from the stars of that time and thinking one day I would ride the Sun Tour. To win three and now be race director makes me extremely proud. The first tour was in ’74 and I rode for a bet; I had retired at the end of 73 and decided to try and make a few bucks since I now had two children. Anyway a mate bet me I couldn’t finish it and so I entered. I had been off the bike for seven months and so I turned pro and trained for three weeks and managed to finish fifth. In ’75 Don was the favorite as he had just returned from his first Tour de France and he was going well. Don won the Melbourne to Lakes race which was just over 200 miles and the longest race in the world, I got second. The next week Don got fastest in the Melbourne to Warrnambool and I punctured but I felt my form was good enough.
The Sun Tour started the next week and Don and I had a good battle. I was a better sprinter than Don and the tour in those days was really won on the sprint bonuses. But it was the time trial where I really won it as I beat Don by around a minute and it was only about eight K; I think I won seven stages.
The next year in ‘76 was probably my best tour. I won eight stages, the KoM, points jersey and teams race but didn’t run a place overall. On the first day Dumps and I had a disagreement and ended up off the bike and had a bit of a punch on. The officials soon pulled us apart and sliding around on shoe cleats meant we didn’t inflict much damage on each other. Anyway, I lost eight minutes on the first day and ended up running fifth only 1 min 50 down on Bulldog – another Iffy story. . .
In ‘77 I won again and ‘78 I had an appendicitis attack and ended up in hospital. Back in those days there was an evening sister paper to the Sun which was The Herald (later merged to the Herald Sun) – they ran a picture of me lying in hospital and above that was a picture running across the back page of the peloton and the heading read “Riding like there is no Trevorrow” The ’79 edition was a good win and I think I won eight stages again?
The ‘80 race was one to forget, I shouldn’t have started, I had an injury and struggled; ‘81 was my last and I started with a crook knee. I managed to win the first stage and then had to pull out in the second stage with the bad knee. My teammate and lead-out man was a young Shane Sutton – he still hasn’t forgiven me.
PEZ: And you even found time to ride Six Days?
We used to have a few sixes in Aus back in those days. I finished second in a couple and won the Melbourne Six in 1981 with the late Paul Medhurst.
PEZ: What was your career hi-lite on the bike?
One was riding the Tour of Tasmania in 1978. It was the first Pro-Am race in Australia and my brothers talked me into it. The Tour of Tassie was always the biggest amateur race and I had finished second and third in the past but when I turned pro in ’74 I thought my chance of winning had gone. I hadn’t raced against my two younger brothers other than club events and this was our chance to have some fun. The biggest challenge was when it was announced that it would be a Pro Am I had been off the bike for about three months and was carrying a fair bit of weight. Even with a month’s training I started the race about 10 kgs over my racing weight. I remember riding out of Launceston on day one and Peter Besanko rode up next to me and said “Iffy you look like you’ve farted in your panty hose.” Anyway I managed to ride myself into form and dragged myself over the biggest climb ‘Pepper Hill’ and won the tour including winning the final stage.
PEZ: Any regrets about your career as a rider?
I would like to have taken it a bit more seriously but I can’t complain. I still manage to make a living out of the sport I love and have been able to put a bit back into it as well.
PEZ: How did the move into cycling journalism and race organization come about?
I was approached to write a comment piece on one of the Sun Tours soon after I retired. I loved it and after a couple of years got offered a weekly column in the Herald Sun. I don’t write much anymore really just during the Tour de France and I’ve covered 19 tours now. I got an enormous amount of pleasure in writing the book with Ron Reed on the 100th Tour and 100 years of Aussie cycling. I was lucky to have Ron on board as he carried a lot of the load and I was a bit crook during some of that time but it certainly took my focus off the negative things that were happening in my life.
PEZ: And you were involved in the GreenEDGE set up?
Gerry Ryan, the owner of the team is a friend of mine and I guess taking him on quite a few Tours de France in the early days was either going to ignite a passion or scare him away. Luckily for us it was the former. My official role with Orica-GreenEDGE is team mascot. There is a chapter in the book Green, Gold and Bold that talks about how Gerry and I became friends and how the partnership evolved.
PEZ: What sort of things do you do with your ViP’s at le Tour?
I take one car with some mates and the other is for Gerry’s VIPs and friends. I call them Gerry and the Pacemakers. I book them in to fine hotels (most of the time) take them to the start and mingle with the team and enjoy the VIP hospitality. Then drive them on the route and having a bit of a look at the race then get them to the finish and into some more VIP areas – then to the next hotel out to dinner and tell them some more Iffy stories. . .
If you missed Part 1, read it HERE.
Many photos are from the archives and original owners difficult to find, but to all a big thank you.
#Next week-end Ed Hood interviews Shelley Verses, the first female soigneur on the Euro pro circuit.
It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,100 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.