We are sad to report the death of Anthony Doyle following a short illness bravely borne at Frimley Park Hospital with his family by his side on 30th April 2023.
A loving partner to Adriana, a devoted father to George, Gemma and James and a friend of so many. Anthony will be much loved and sorely missed by all who knew him. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.
Anthony had been a supporter of Headway Surrey for many years. He became a Trustee on the 18th March 2000 and continued in this role until 2009, after this he then became our Patron and continued to offer support to Headway Surrey at events and also by attending the centre to give much needed motivational talks to clients about his inspirational story of recovery and rehabilitation from his brain injury.
The funeral is a private event, by invitation only. Tributes and donations can be made at https://anthonydoylembe.muchloved.com/
Anthony "Tony" Doyle MBE Obituary
Britain’s pioneering cycling World Track Champion Anthony ‘Tony’ Doyle MBE has died from pancreatic cancer, at the age of 64, only four weeks after his diagnosis.
Tony’s illustrious racing career brought unmatched success to British track cycling in the 1980s-90s - twice World Pursuit Champion, four-time European Champion, pioneering British winner of 23 Six Days and many other titles. Competing in the days before cycling had wide media exposure, Tony Doyle is a legend in the cycling community.
Tony’s cycling journey started in 1972 at age 14, when he joined his local Clarence Wheelers cycling club. His first taste of success came in representing England and winning two bronze medals in the individual and team pursuit events at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Canada. He moved to Metz, France, and spent a season racing on the continent. Shortly after his arrival, Tony won his first race, the 130km Prix Pinchi at Bouligny, going on to win a further 11 races in his first exposure to continental racing.
Tony’s attention turned to the 1980 Moscow Olympics. On arrival in Moscow, the decision on which rider would represent Britain in the 4km Individual Pursuit had still not been made. Despite Tony being the reigning national champion, he was not the final selection for the Individual Pursuit, and in the Team Pursuit the British were eliminated in the quarter-finals.
On his return home, Tony immediately turned professional, focusing his energy on training even harder. Two months later, he claimed his position as Britain’s leading track cyclist by winning the 5km Individual Pursuit in the 1980 World Championships at Besancon and, extraordinarily for a rookie professional, his first World Championship.
Tony used his World Championship as a springboard to participate in his first professional Six Day, the Skol 6 in Wembley, describing it as a baptism of fire. Tony’s ambition was to become the first Briton to crack the continental Six Day circuit – a very few had won individual races, but nobody had yet mastered the Six Day, still less dominated the events as Tony was destined to do. He won his first Six Day in 1983 at Berlin, teamed up with Danny Clark, the first time a Brit had won a Six Day since 1972.
It was the beginnings of a dominant Six Day pairing. Tony had the engine, being referred to by some as “the motorbike”, whilst Danny had the top end-speed making them capable of gaining laps in a flash. In the 1988-89 season, Doyle and Clark were at the top of their game, winning five of the seven Six Days they rode together. Ultimately, Tony remains the most successful British Six Day competitor ever.
Tony continued to focus on the World Track Championships. Picking up Silver medals in the Individual Pursuit in 1984 and 1985, Tony was determined to regain his World Title. He travelled to Colorado, USA, for the 1986 Worlds and set a World record time in the semi-finals. Nevertheless, in the finals Tony was up against his long-standing rival Hans Henrik Oersted, who had beaten him in the previous two years’ finals. By the 4km mark, with 1km to go, Oersted had a lead of two seconds, and it seemed like the race was over. However, Tony put in one of the sport’s greatest ever counter-attacks and completed the final kilometre in just 1 minute 5.91 seconds. Oersted could not respond, and Tony Doyle had become World Champion once again, winning by a margin of 1.946 seconds.
The whole of British Cycling was jubilant, at a time when there wasn’t much success to cheer on the track. On his return, Tony went on to win London Westminster Kellogg’s city centre race, resplendent in his rainbow jersey, in front of a home crowd, beating another World champion Hennie Kuiper in the sprint.
Tony won Bronze and Silver at the 1987 World Championships. In the 1988 Worlds, he qualified with the fastest time and cruised through his quarter and semi-finals. In the final, the stage was set for Tony’s third world championship title. However, in an unfortunate turn of events, the start time of the final was brought forward by an hour, and it was a mad panic for the support team to get Tony to the Velodrome on time. He normally had a meticulous pre-race routine, including the pioneering use of a sports psychologist. All this went by the board. He was unable to do a warm-up, and in the pre-race chaos his skin-suit zip broke. He lost the race by 1.75 seconds.
In November 1989, at the peak of his powers, Tony’s career and life almost came to a premature end. Whilst racing at the Munich Six Day, he suffered a traumatic accident. When Tony’s attack came, another rider swung out in front of him without warning. Tony fell head-first and remained in a coma for eight days, with his shoulder broken in five places and his elbow broken in two. It was predicted that he would be unable ever to return to professional racing. After regaining consciousness, he spent six weeks in ITU at Charing Cross Hospital, followed by two months in a rehabilitation centre. Tony had to relearn the most basic tasks, including how to walk and eat. However, within just three and a half months, he was back on the road.
Tony proved the doctors wrong through sheer determination, as ever a meticulously planned approach and the dedicated support of his family. He returned to ride the 1990 Munich Six Day, and went on to win the event, just one year after his horrific crash. He raced for a further four years, winning silver in the team pursuit at the 1994 Commonwealth Games, eventually retiring due to a back injury sustained at the Zurich Six Day in 1994.
Awarded an MBE in 1989 for services to cycling, Tony mentored and supported many younger riders, and visited countless schools to encourage the children into cycling as a pastime and competitively. He was a technical innovator, being the first to use for example the solid wheel, the wind tunnel, and the application of continuous meticulous tiny improvements to all aspects of equipment and training to improve performance. After retiring, Tony later served as president of British Cycling, was the founding director of the Tour of Britain and played a significant role in sports promotion and media. He was inducted into the British Cycling Hall of Fame in 2009 and served as Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Board for the London Borough of Southwark.
Tony could have been a champion in a wide range of the sports at which he excelled in his youth, but he chose cycling. One who worked closely with him throughout his career said, “he was a gifted, talented rider, elegant and forceful.” No stranger to adversity, he always fought back until he lost the strength to do so in his last illness.
Away from the track Anthony - as he was known by family and close friends - was always proud and protective of his family. He was the fourth of five children in a Catholic family who remain very close-knit to this day. He was known for his generosity and dedication to supporting family and friends, and competitors when they suffered illness and adversity themselves. There are many hidden stories of Anthony’s support for people when it really mattered.
Anthony is survived by his partner Adriana Alessi, his children George, Gemma and James and their mother Anne.
- See extended obituary (additional cycling content)
- Geoffrey Nicholson, Tony Doyle – Six-Day Rider, Springfield Books, 1992, ISBN 0 947655 36 0
Chris Sidwells Meets Tony Doyle, Velocast Cycling Podcast