John Allis

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John Allis
Personal information
Full nameJohn Cotton Allis
Born (1942-05-31) May 31, 1942 (age 76)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Height5 ft 8 12 in (174 cm)[1]
Weight148 lb (67 kg)[1]
Team information
Amateur team(s)
0Century Road Club

John Cotton Allis (born May 31, 1942) is an American cyclist who entered into international cycling competition in the 1960s. He was one of the strongest competitive cyclists in the United States in the early 1970s, winning the United States National Road Race Championships in 1974.


Born in Boston, Massachusetts,[1] Allis began racing while a student at Princeton University, and had not yet graduated when he led three of his Princeton teammates to compete in the world road championships in Ronse, Belgium. The team performed poorly in the road race, but better in the time trial, where they took 20th place. This was the first American presence in international cycling competition since the era of Major Taylor.[2]

Allis stayed to race in Europe when his teammates returned to the United States, signing on as a category 1 amateur with the Paris club, ACBB. He was the first English speaker to ride for the team.

Despite the skepticism of French cycling enthusiasts, who informed him that Americans were biologically unfit to compete, Allis did achieve victories, including Paris to Cayeux-sur-Mer in 1964.[3] The team was so surprised to see their American rider win that they had to scramble to find him a clean jersey to wear on the podium; he had been given the worst one in the shop. His victory was covered in L'Équipe and mentioned in the New York Times.

Allis returned home to complete his Princeton degree. In 1965, he placed second in the national collegiate road championship.[4] In his senior year, he participated in his first Olympic Games. After placing fourth in trials in Central Park, he was selected for the men's individual road race,[5] but was under academic probation and the school almost declined to allow him to attend. However, somebody pointed out to the administration that Harvard and Yale each had two Olympians that year and that, without Allis, Princeton would have had only one (Bill Bradley). He produced the best American result in the event that year, 70th out of 126 riders.[6] Allis also raced in the team time trial in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and the road race at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, where he took 63rd. In 2005, Allis said that his failure to gain success at the Olympics was the biggest disappointment of his career.[3]

After a brief stint in the Army, Allis shone in American racing in the early 1970s, organizing along with Dave Chauner the Raleigh team that dominated American racing, and winning the national road championship in 1974,[7][8] which he won by applying brutal tactics against the newcomer Tommy Officer, the 175-mile Quebec-Montreal race in 1973, and two runnings of the Mount Washington Hill Climb.[9] He retired from national competition in 1976.

Allis achieved all his victories as an amateur. He would have entered European professional racing but was denied the opportunity in 1969 by the management of ACBB, who declared he was too old.

Allis lives in Massachusetts with his wife Kim, and has two daughters, Paget and Galen. He was a co-owner of the Belmont Wheelworks and Ace Wheelworks bike stores, and coached the Harvard University cycling team from 1980[3] through 2010. He was inducted into the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame in 1993.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "John Allis". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on May 19, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "1993 Hall of Fame Inductees". Bicycling Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on May 6, 2006.
  3. ^ a b c "The Somerville News Q&A with John Allis". The Somerville News. January 6, 2005.
  4. ^ "Hinnov of Princeton Retains Bicycle Road Racing Title," New York Times, May 9, 1965
  5. ^ "Castilloux Takes 112½-Mile Final in Bicycle Trials," Robert Lipsyte, New York Times,September 7, 1964
  6. ^ "6-Man Cycling Club Is Riding High at Princeton; Victory Streak Goes Back to 1962 for Road Racers," New York Times, November 7, 1965, p. S11
  7. ^ "Roster of Winners of Individual and Team Championships in Sports During 1974," New York Times, December 22, 1974
  8. ^ "Allis Wins Title In Bicycle Racing," New York Times, July 29, 1974, p.30
  9. ^ His 1974 record-setting win is mentioned in "Bicycling Grand Prix is Taken by Stettina," New York Times, September 10, 1979

Other sources[edit]