Former pro cyclist and National Champion, Maurice Burton, was assaulted while out riding his bike yesterday. A bank holiday Monday ride through picturesque Kent villages ended up with the De Ver Cycles owner in hospital after a motorist pulled 60-year old Burton off his bike in an unprovoked attack.
The pretty village of Downe, home to Charles Darwin, is on a popular route for club rides and tensions often arise between motorists and road cyclists but the police rarely have to intervene.
Maurice Burton told Ride Velo: "I overtook him, and maybe I shouldn't have done but I didn't cause any accident. He stopped me from passing. These people do things like that. They don't like it. He wound down his window, I told him to f... off, leave me alone. He got out of the car and was blocking my way."
The assailant, who Burton described as being in his late 30s, was travelling with his wife and children when the incident occurred. After overtaking Maurice, the driver then pulled up, jumped out of his car and dragged the much older rider off his bike. Burton sustained cuts and bruises and an estimated £2,000 damage to his Ridley Helium SL carbon fibre bike.
Mixed-race Burton was famously booed when he won the National Championships in 1974 because of the colour of his skin but didn't let that get in the way of a very successful career in cycling.
He continued: "I said; 'you picked on the wrong person!' We were there for some time. I took my phone out and took a picture of his registration plate. We were at a triangle in the road just outside Downe House - I wouldn't let him move the vehicle." Burton called the police and although they took an hour and a half to attend, the rider refused to budge. Meanwhile the driver's wife and children went and waited inside Down House.
Police took down the details at the scene and Burton was treated in hospital for his injuries this morning. He is considering a private prosecution if the police won't take the matter further. "People need to find out about people like that," he said.
Burton wrote on his Facebook page yesterday: "No matter what this man felt about my cycling that doesn't make it right for him to then decide to put me off my bike. I'm going to call British cycling tomorrow to see how I can move forward with this.
"The only good thing about it is at the end of the day I still managed to take my wife out to the restaurant in Wimbledon and we had a nice meal."
At least Burton hasn't lost the famous "bloody mindedness" that made him a champion!