Norman Sheil

Norman Leslie Sheil (22 October 1932 – 25 October 2018) was a racing cyclist who won world pursuit championships for Britain in 1955[1] and 1958 and rode the Tour de France in 1960.[2] He became national coach of the British Cycling Federation and later of the Canadian Cycling Association. He returned to racing in the 1998 and won the world points championship for over-65s, in Manchester England.[3]

Norman Sheil
Personal information
Full nameNorman Leslie Sheil
Born(1932-10-22)22 October 1932
Liverpool, England
Died25 October 2018(2018-10-25) (aged 86)
Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada
Team information
DisciplineRoad and track
Rider typeEndurance
Amateur team
Melling Wheelers


Born in Liverpool on 22 October 1932,[4] Norman Sheil started club riding with the Phoenix (Aintree) club in Liverpool in 1948. He said: "I shall never forget those 40 miles, especially the look on my mother's face when she saw me after the run ended. She thought I was deadly ill or something. And I didn't feel so good, as a matter of fact."[5]

He rode his first race at the end of 1948, using a bicycle he had built himself from a frame given to him by an uncle, Bill Cronshaw, a racer in the 1920s.[5] As his love of bike racing continued to get stronger. Fellow L'Pool racers were telling Norman. "If you want to get real good at bike racing then you have to meet Eddie Soens." Eddie met Norman by the front door of the Soens bike shop. "What can I do for you lad ?" Eddie asked. "I've heard. That to become a great bike rider I need to associate myself with you". From there Norman rode a 25-mile [40 km] time-trial in 1h 9m 4s. By 1949 he had improved to 1h 3m 30s, in an event held by the Molyneux club on Merseyside. He moved clubs, from the Phoenix to Walton Paragon, rode a little in 1950 and was then called for national service in February 1951. He spent two years as a naval signalman but without cycling. After his return from service Norman joined the Melling Wheelers.

Amateur careerEdit

Sheil was the first British rider to ride a 25-mile time-trial in 55 minutes, using a 48x15 fixed wheel (i.e. 86 inch gear) in 1957.[6] He held national records at 5, 10, 25 miles and 1 hour (26miles 1398yds).[6]

Sheil won the 1954 Empire Games pursuit championship in 5m 3.5sec, beating his England teammate Pete Brotherton by six seconds. His title and then a national record time of 5m 10s later that year in London made selection for the following year's world championship in Milan inevitable. Sheil met the defending champion, Leandro Faggin of Italy, in the semi-final. Sheil won that match and Brotherton won his so that the two Britons met in the final. Sheil won in a British record of 4m 57s.

Tour de FranceEdit

Sheil raced on the road in France after winning the pursuit championship for the second time, winning six times.[6] He was one of several British riders such as Stan Brittain, Harry Reynolds and John Kennedy. Two others—Tom Simpson and Brian Robinson—were more established there. The growing number of British riders in France, and the end of a civil war between the National Cyclists Union and the British League of Racing Cyclists,[7] led the Tour de France to invite a team of eight from Britain in 1960. The Tour was still disputed by national rather than trade teams.

Only Robinson and Simpson finished, 26th and 29th.[8] Sheil dropped out after crashing on the 11th stage,[9] when he was in 14th place.[6]


Sheil retired from racing soon after the Tour, his last international race taking place in San Sebastian, Spain, in 1963. In 1965 he became national coach in Britain, helping establish the British Cycle Coaching Scheme and the English (now British) Schools Cycling Association. He held the job until 1972.[6] He was Canadian national coach from 1978 to 1982, then a track coach in the US in 1989.[6] He died at his home in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario on 25 October 2018.[10]

Golden Book of CyclingEdit

He has an entry in The Golden Book of Cycling.[11]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 December 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Historique du Tour de France". Archived from the original on 9 July 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  3. ^ "Fat Nick's photos: Norman Sheil at the World Masters Track Champs".
  4. ^ Cycling. "Norman Sheil".
  5. ^ a b The Bicycle, UK, 7 July 1954, p8
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Canadian Cyclist - BTAC ExpoCycle Update, Mississauga Midweek Awards Dinner, Women's Tour of Switzerland, Tour de l'Avenir, Hour Record Attempt, Vuelta Espana". 12 September 2001. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  7. ^ The two disagreed over the benefit and risk of massed racing on the open road, the NCU having been against since the 19th century, the BLRC opening in opposition during the second world war. Both sides and the sport in general fought to physical and financial exhaustion before merging to become the British Cycling Federation in 1959.
  8. ^ Fotheringham, William (2005), Roule Britannia, Yellow Jersey, UK, ISBN 978-0-224-07425-4, p267
  9. ^ "Professional Cycling Palmarès Site - Races: English speaking riders at the Tour de France". Archived from the original on 2 June 2010.
  10. ^ "Legendary British Racer and Canadian Coach Norman Sheil Passes Away". Pedal Magazine. 27 October 2018. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Golden Book - Norman Sheil". Archived from the original on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2009.