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What Comes Next? Part 6—Malcolm Elliott: Still Searching

From Issue 95 • Words by John Wilcockson

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The record shows that English roadman-sprinter Malcolm Elliott won more than 200 events in his four decades of racing, including multiple stage wins at the Vuelta a España and four seasons spent with the California-based Chevrolet-L.A. Sheriff team. “They were the best years, the most enjoyable times of my career,” he said. Then, after signing for another U.S. team, Comptel-Colorado Cyclist, in 1997, his pro career came to a sudden halt.

PELOTON

“The budget for that team went away midway through the season,” Elliott said, talking from his home in Sheffield, England. “I wasn’t going to continue riding for nothing. I was 36 and getting towards the end…and that team’s organization wasn’t a patch on that with Chevy, so it was getting more difficult to get motivated. So I just returned to normal life. I wasn’t rushing into anything…and still haven’t until this day.”

For the next few years, Elliott—once the golden boy of British cycling—said he was self-employed, buying up and renovating rental properties: “It paid the bills, but it wasn’t something that was well rewarded.” On turning 40, he decided to try racing in British Cycling’s veterans category, aiming at the national championship. “But before I’d trained and ridden the race I decided that wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to get back into top-level domestic racing.”

For the next nine seasons, Elliott raced for various pro teams, all of them managed by Phil Griffiths—who was Elliott’s sports director when he rode for the ANC-Halfords team at the 1987 Tour de France. This second pro career saw Elliott just as competitive, with his famed sprint earning him victories in races throughout Britain and Ireland.

“During that time, I got married and had kids,” Elliott said, “so life was pretty settled. And I later had a few years in team management with teams run by Phil Griffiths. So that kept me busy. I also went to the Tour de France for a month every year from 2013 to 2016, working for ASO and then Skoda, driving guests in the race caravan. And then things all tipped up….”

“Yeah,” he continued, emotion in his voice. “I got divorced and that’s been pretty acrimonious…and had a profound effect on my mental health. I keep reasonably busy, doing a bit of work here and there in property renovation, but the last couple of years have been pretty horrendous. I do have a few irons in the fire so hopefully there are better things ahead.” One of those “irons” is a deal with former music band manager Steve Coxshall to create Legends of Cycling, a business that will bring cycling enthusiasts together with Elliott and other ex-pros at one-day events.

Before signing off, Elliott said he was looking at one of the Pinarellos he raced on throughout his comeback years. “Right now,” he observed, “it’s got a thin layer of dust on it.”

NEXT: Craig Schommer Rides the Corporate Path