Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Scientific Scotsman

Born in the winter of 1945 William Bilsland came from a cycling family, his father being part of the Glasgow Wheelser 4000m pursuit team. Billy would come back full circle to his cycling roots and is now the president of that samw club. His racing career was in the 70's and was part of the Peugeot and Raleigh Team between 1970-1975.
He had some good results and was a work horse in the peloton, ending his career with a descent palmares:
1968 First stage in 13th Milk Race, Morecambe (GBR)
1969 2nd in 4th stage Tour Nivernais Morvan (FRA) 1969 First to sixth Tour stage Nivernais Morvan (FRA)
1969 2nd in General Classification Tour Nivernais Morvan (FRA)
1969 First part in a 10th stage Tour de l'Avenir, Clermont-Ferrand (FRA)
1971 Second in Gistel (BEL)
1971 Second in the GP d'Isbergues (FRA)
1971 First in Oud-Turnhout (BEL)
1971 Third in Assebroek (b) (BEL)
1971 Second in Zomergem (b) (BEL)
1971 Third in Circuit des Fronti?res, Templeuve (BEL)
1973 First stage in fifth GP Wills (GBR) 1973 3rd in National Championship, On the Road Race, Great Britain (GBR)
1974 2nd in National Championship, On the Road Race, Great Britain (GBR)
1974 Second in a second stage part Etoile des Espoirs, St Martin de Landelles (FRA)

The relaxed Scotsman along with coach Jimmy Dorward were the some of the forefathers of scientific approach to training. In a time were quantity was the order of the day when in came to training and a race calendar with more than a 100 races a year, the fact that Bilsland was opting for quality over quantity with the use of interval training was years ahead of his time. The evidence of this success can be seen in his results just in his penultimate year as an amateur, two classics and 17 wins. Impressive by any standards and closed the deal for signing with Peugeot in his break through year.
His raced three years at Peugeot and saw a top ten finish in the Tour of the Falling leaves in 1970. He was also no stranger to the tales that come from the peloton back in the day. When managers were hard men and demanded everything from the riders the Scotsman was found between the team leader,Godefroot, and the team manager, Gaston Plaud. Godefroot found out that the Spanish were holding out on him during a stage race and decided to play sick to get out of the race. As he dropped off the bunch Plaud told Bilsland to get his back into the bunch even if it meant dragging him to the line. Godefroot had no intention of finishing after this slight on him and told Bilsland to abandon with him. Not being at the top of the food chain Bilsland could not simply pack up and go home. This left him with a long hard chase to get back to the bunch. No sooner had he arrived that Plaud asked his what he was doing on the back of the bunch when the racing was going on in the front!!!
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