British national champions recall how they won their stripes, the pride in wearing them for the season and the effect it had on the rest of their careers. Podium fines, finish line crashes, curious combines, white shorts and unlikely alliances – these are the stories behind the jerseys.
Steve Joughin (1984, 1988)
I was 24 when I won my first title. It always lifts you when you are on home soil, but it also adds to the pressure. There were two races in Douglas in the week leading up to the nationals and I managed to win both, so I obviously had the form. I always seemed to peak around that time of the season.
Robert Millar was there that day, and a number of Europe-based pros. There were only three of us in the Moducel team – Nigel Dean and Ian Banbury – and the break went away. We had nobody in there. I just had to get over the mountain for the one lap, then it was 22 laps of the finishing circuit.
Nigel asked me how I was feeling, and drove it for 30 miles to get us across – never missed a turn. They didn’t realise how fast we were pulling them back, and we caught them with about 400m to go. I put it into overdrive, then caught Bill Nickson with about 30m to go. It was a very emotional day.
I can always remember my games teacher from school was at the bottom of the grandstand that they use for the Isle of Man TT and he was in tears. He shook my hand and said: ‘Joughin, how have you managed to do this?’
I was smoking from the age of nine, one of the class clowns, useless at football. I’d found nothing I was interested in. But I just loved the hustle and bustle of the bunch gallop. And I was good at it.
I couldn’t believe it for weeks that I was turning up at races with these blue and red bands on my jersey. It was surreal. And before you know, it’s off your back again. But for me to be able to win it twice is probably one of the highlights of my career.