Goodwood 1982: the world-beating Mandy Jones

01st September 2021
A British world champion was crowned at Goodwood

From the Pennines to the South Downs

Back in 1982, cycling in Britain did not enjoy the profile it has now. Even the best riders missed out on the support lavished on today's stars.

If Mandy Jones had been riding today, she would be a household name. Instead, her racing career was documented in magazines like Cycling Weekly but would rarely warrant a mention in the sports pages of national newspapers. When racing for British Cycling kit would have to be returned, and she often raced in men's shorts and jerseys because that was what British Cycling provided.

Jones began riding with the West Pennine Cycling Club in Rochdale at a young age, and started racing in time trials as a teenager. "It wasn't till I was 16 [in 1978] that I started road racing, training and getting better," she told Cycling Weekly in 2013.

Her results revealed a prodigious talent. Success in time trials, road races, and track cycling followed, and she began to race internationally in 1980. That year, at the age of just 18, she took a surprise bronze at the World Championships in Sallanches.

Two years later she would be in contention again when the UCI Road World Championships came to Goodwood.


Going for Gold

A five-strong women's team lined up for Britain at Goodwood in 1982. The race soon split up, leaving Jones to fend for herself against the star riders from traditional cycling nations like Belgium, France, and Italy.

With just over a lap to go, three riders escaped. Jones recognised that this could be the race's decisive move and bridged the gap, despite having just been caught herself.

The quartet pulled away from the field along the top of the hill by Goodwood Racecourse. Then on the downhill that followed Jones pulled away. "It wasn't a particularly hard attack either, I went round the corner first, really got going, looked around, saw the gap and put my head down and went for it," she told Cycling Weekly. "That was it, I never saw them again."

Jones's liking for time trials – lone races against the clock – really paid off. She put in a huge but perfectly judged effort for the rest of that final lap to hold off her breakaway companions by 10 seconds.


Fame, for a while

Suddenly Jones was in demand. Newspapers wanted interviews and she appeared on A Question of Sport. Her fame didn't reach the levels later seen by Victoria Pendleton or Laura Kenny, but her achievements were recognised beyond the horizons of British club cycling.

At just 20 years old, Jones's talent promised a long and successful career. But her motivation suffered, and injuries followed. A comeback for the 1992 Olympics was in the works, but a long-term injury got in the way.

But on that September day in 1982, no rider in the world could match Mandy Jones.

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