On Wednesday 13th May 2003, one of Northern Ireland’s cycling greats was laid to rest.
A member of Kings Moss between 1939 and 1955, he gained many club successes. His undisputed golden-era extends though the 1953 to 1955 seasons when he gained Northern Irish and Irish 10, 25, 50, 100 mile and 12 hour honours.
His most celebrated achievements however took place on a tandem, partnered by Paddy McNeilly. The pair set a variety of records including Belfast-Enniskillen, Belfast-Londonderry-Belfast and the most-famous of all;Mizen Head (Co. Cork) to Fair Head (Co. Antrim), covering 389 miles in 19h 23mins.
He remained deeply involved in cycling long after retiring from competition. He was both respected and renouned for active support of NI cycling. This culminated in becoming vice-president of Ballymena Road Club and lending his name to the Tommy Smyth Cup.
To us he personified all that’s good in Irish cycling. He loved friendly conversation, regardless of your credentials. From Sunday afternoon cyclists to prolific racers, Tommy always found a pleasant and encouraging word, expressed in his own unassuming way.
Mark Greer, Cicli Sport contributor
In the early 70s, inspired by my father’s love of cycling I decided to open a bicycle shop in Moneymore. The shop was originally a 20 x 10 foot garden shed, given to me by my father, located at the side of our house. We hadn’t a lot of money & it was modestly stocked with Peugeot & Dawes bicycles & accessories.
I had always wanted to sell exotic racing bikes so I travelled with my father & Marino Fresch, a Venetian & fluent Italian & English speaker to Italy in 1976.
When in Italy I noticed all the bike shops & manufactures were named Cicli followed by the owner’s surname, e.g. Cicli Pinarello so when we returned home I adopted the idea & the shop name Cicli Sport was born.
In the winter of 1982 we held our first Cicli Sport show introducing Pinarello & other exotic Italian cycle parts & clothing to Ireland. We needed a sporting celebrity to help promote the products we were importing, our first choice was the young cycling sensation Stephen Roche who attended the next four events. It was then we started our friendship with Stephen which has lasted to the present day.
Over the coming years we expanded the shop on the original site replacing the wooden shed with a plain one room shop adjacent to the house. During these years we increased the range to include Pinarello, GT, Trek & Giant.
In 1993 I retired from the civil service & began working full time in the shop, as the business grew I eventually employed my son Jonathan in 1997, who is now my partner in the business.
John Smyth, Cicli Sport founder
Ten years ago we took on the Specialized agency, a brand that needs no introduction, we have been extremely successful with & are very proud to say we are now one of the top dealers in the UK. Recently we extended our premises incorporating the house where we once lived & the original shop, effectively more than quadrupling our floor space creating a modern spacious shop specialising in road cycling but stocking everything for the cycling enthusiast.
Jonathan Smyth, Cicli Sport Manager