Tributes flow for champion cyclist Greg Barnes
CYCLING fraternities around the state have paid tribute to champion cyclist Greg Barnes who passed away early Friday morning.
It's understood the Lawrence resident had been in Grafton Base Hospital battling a lung tumour.
"We are saddened to learn of the passing of champion cyclist Greg Barnes, a prolific track sprinter who won ten NSW titles, two national titles and rode at the Commonwealth Games in the 1970s," Cycling NSW posted on social media.
Originally from Berala, western Sydney, Gregory John Barnes first started racing for Lidcombe-Auburn Cycle Club from age 11.
"His first big cycling win came a year later at the Sydney Metropolitan Road Titles," LACC member and cycling journalist Peter Maniaty said.
"As he explained to me when we spoke in March, this remained one his most memorable and satisfying road wins."
While he enjoyed some success in road cycling, it was on the track where Mr Barnes was best known.
"He was renowned as being a powerful lead-out style sprinter," Mr Maniaty said.
"Former LACC Secretary and President, the late Ellis Fuller, once explained: 'Greg is simply a faster sprinter who doesn't play around. He has never been content to 'just win' but always endeavours to win by the greatest possible margin'."
By the end of his racing career, Mr Barnes was a seven-time NSW Sprint Champion and had won multiple National Championship medals in the shorter sprint events.
"His crowning achievements as a cyclist came in 1974, when he became National Champion in both the Sprint and the Time Trial," Mr Maniaty said.
"In doing so he also became LACC's first ever senior men's National Champion. Those victories also saw Greg selected for Australia's 1974 Commonwealth Games team in Christchurch, where he finished 5th in the Sprint."
Mr Barnes most memorable track victories came at Lidcombe Oval during the 1970/71 season.
"He was invited to be part of a special invitational series along with many top riders of the day including World Champion Gordon Johnson and Italian Olympic and World Championship medallist, Giordano Turrini," Mr Maniaty said.
"Greg himself was pitted head-to-head against an Italian amateur track champion of the time called Mario Boglia. Greg thrashed him but looking back was quite magnanimous given the idiosyncrasies of the Lidcombe Oval track."
According to Mr Barnes, the Italian cyclist had likely never ridden on a flat track before and "the poor bloke … he didn't know what had hit him."
In the late 1980s, Mr Barnes moved to Coffs Harbour and, for the next 15 years, continued to race with the local cycling club. He later moved to the Clarence Valley where he took part in multiple events including the annual Maclean Rotary Tour De Woodford Island.
Australian Men's Sprint Champion (1974)
Australian Men's Kilometre Time Trial Champion (1974)
NSW Men's Sprint Champion (1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977)
NSW Men's Kilometre Time Trial Champion (1973, 1974)
NSW Men's Scratch Race Champion (1972)
Commonwealth Games Men's Sprint (1974) - 6th
Funeral details have no yet been released.