Thirty years ago, Colin Sturgess was 19 and preparing for the Seoul Olympics, where he finished fourth in the individual pursuit. It was one of his final rides as an amateur because the Belgian ADR squad had already offered him a professional contract.
By the time he joined the team, they’d signed Greg LeMond – who was making the long journey back from the shooting accident which nearly cost him his life. LeMond won the Tour de France that summer, of course, and Sturgess – still only 20 – earned himself a rainbow jersey in the professional individual pursuit at the World Championships in Lyon.
But life as a professional cyclist did not pan out the way Sturgess had hoped and within a couple of years he’d quit the sport and headed to Loughborough University to study sports science and English literature.
Twenty years ago, he was back in top-level cycling as part of the England team pursuit squad – alongside Bradley Wiggins – that won silver at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
His cycling career is barely half of the Colin Sturgess story.
For this two-part episode for Friends of The Cycling Podcast, Lionel Birnie met Sturgess for lunch at The Case Champagne Bar and Restaurant in the centre of Leicester to talk about the highs and lows of his life. The conversation covers his early days in South Africa, how he became disillusioned with life as a professional cyclist and his pride at having ridden in the Olympics and won a world title. In part two, he talks frankly about his mental health, the bi-polar condition and anxieties which contributed to life spiralling out of control a decade or so ago, and how he got back on track and is enjoying running the Madison-Genesis team.