British Empire Games road champion (left), Coenie (centre) and Dirk
All were members of the North Road CC in Bellville, a white working
class suburb of Cape Town.
• 1938 was the first time that a
road race had been included in the British Empire Games. This was in
addition to the three established track events: match sprint; 1,000
metre individual TT; 10 mile scratch race.
• The 1938 Games road race took
the form of a ‘mass-start’ en ligne event. Such
events were a rarity in both Britain and the colonies at the time,
where individual time trialling over fixed distances (10, 25, 50 and
100-miles) and times (12 and 24-hours) were the traditional form of
• The introduction of the
mass-start format at Sydney brought the Empire Games into line with the
Olympic Games road race and the UCI annual world amateur road
championship of that era and hence into cycling’s modern age.
It was, therefore, a revolutionary step.
• The Sydney Empire Games road
title event was held over a distance of 100km (62.14 miles) in a local
• The race took the form of 15
laps of a 6.6km (4.14 mile) circuit which included a series of short,
strength-sapping sharp climbs and three tight corners.
• It was a South African, Hennie
Binneman, who emerged as the winner in a time of 2hrs 53 mins 29.6secs
(Average speed: 34.7kph; 21.6mph).
• Binneman triumphed in a
four-man final sprint, beating the New Zealander, John Brown (silver
medallist) and the Englishman, Ray Jones (bronze medallist). All three
were given the same time.
• Binneman was one of two South
Africans who started in the road event, the other being Sid Rose. Both
came from Cape Town, which was a hotbed of the sport at the time.
Rose (extreme right) and two clubmates
Sid is with Ted Clayton (left) and Harry Bairstow (centre). All three
were members of Cape Town’s City CC,
established in 1881 when
high-wheel Ordinaries were raced at the Cape.
Both Binneman and Rose had
contested track events at the Games. In the 1,000 metre individual TT
(won by R. Porter of Australia in 1:15.2), Rose finished 11th and
Binneman 13th. Rose then took the bronze medal in the 10 mile scratch
race, in which the gold medal was won by W. Maxfield (England) and the
silver medal by R. Hicks also of England.
• In the Sydney road race,
Binneman was prominent throughout, leading the field over the finishing
line on no fewer than six of the 15 laps, including the 11th and 13th.
Rose rode strongly in the group but on the penultimate lap he unshipped
his chain and was dropped, leaving Binneman without the potential
benefit of his support. Binneman still triumphed in the final sprint.
• After the conclusion of the
Sydney Games, Binneman and Rose returned to South Africa by ship with
the rest of the 1938 South African Empire Games team. The team had been
away from home for several months.
• Hennie Binneman was employed
as a signwriter. However, he found on returning home to Cape Town from
the Games that his employer had tired of waiting for him and he no
longer had a job.
• Tom Nimmo, the owner of
‘Nimmo’s Cycles’, Cape Town’s
leading lightweight specialist at the time, was sympathetic. He
appointed Binneman to manage a branch of Nimmo’s Cycles in
the city’s white working class suburb of Bellville where
Binneman himself lived.
• In the September 1957 issue of
that incomparable magazine, Coureur: Sporting Cyclist, an advert for
Viking Cycles carried a press clipping from the Cape Argus newspaper
(see below). This was of a Nimmo’s Cycles advert listing
local successes on Viking machines. Under the entry for the
Nimmo’s Cycles branch in Bellville, it states:
Manager: Henri Binneman, Ex-British Empire Cycle Road Champion
This was nearly 20 years after Binneman had won the road title at the
1938 Sydney British Empire Games.