Phillip Lloyd Thomas was born in 1916, South Australia (S.A) and was a member of Sturt Districts Amateur Cycling Club since he was 15 years old.
Phil was a tall sporting cyclist and in 1934 won the amateur the 1/2 –mile at Goodwood (S.A) coming through the field with his natural style, sprinting ability and with wins from the 5-mile he also gained fastest time and was selected to represent South Australia in the Australasian championship at Hobart (TAS) in March in 1935. His competition at Hobart proved successful winning the Australian ½-mile amateur title championship and in the same year Thomas won the 1-mile event and was hurt in the first class race at Payneham Oval (S.A), a collision occurred in an event as was treated for abrasions and cuts but was not seriously injured, he made quick progress and ready for his next race for which he had taken 1 month to recover.
In 1936 Thomas won the 100-mile championship and broke the state record, his time of 4hr. 36min. 35secs. riding alone in the final stages he had put in a fine effort riding from scratch, followed with more success Thomas won the 1000 metres amateur open cycling championship at the Kilkenny Club’s track (S.A) in the same year, in great form he sprinted to the line to defeat Jack Kempster in one of the Clubs most exciting finishes.
By 1937, Thomas was recognised as the all-rounder of track and road amateur champion of South Australia and by December was a holder of 18 amateur state and club championships. In January 1938, there was prospect that Thomas was a definite selection for the Australian Team to compete at the Empire Games being held in Sydney however as officials were made aware that Thomas had received prize money during one of his previous meets while on amateur status he was disqualified and dropped from the team.
Thomas denied the allegations and thus causing an uproar with selectors, as far as that the team be dropped entirely from the games.
Thomas was held on a £50 bond to retain his amateur for at least 2 years after the conclusion from selectors and was disgusted by the treatment he was given whom he felt had done his fair share to help cycling in the state and been loyal to his club since 15 years old. Thomas soon resigned his amateur status to become professional, under the rule Thomas was debarred from riding read “An amateur forfeits his status and becomes a professional by entering for any cycling event for which money prize is offered, or for which a money prize or trophy are offered as an alternative, or any event of events open to professionals”.
Soon after turning professional, he was competing with the Super Elliott professional team and won his first state professional championship at the Appila carnival (S.A) by taking out the 1-mile, 2-mile, open handicap ½-mile races in 1938. In 1946, Thomas narrowly won Australia’s longest and richest road classic, the Victorian Cycling Grand Prix of 195-miles, Thomas led the leading bunch and sprinted to the finish to win by half a wheel in front of Sam Bransgrove to receive the £400 prize money, other big names as Deane Toseland and Max Rowley were also present in the race.
In 1948 Thomas was appointed Sales Manager at the Super Elliott shop at 200 Rundle Street, Adelaide (SA) where he would stay with them for many years, he also was writing for the Adelaide Sunday Mail newspaper in the 1950’s, as an expert in the sport Thomas gave the local cycling news and his thoughts on upcoming events.
Phil Thomas died at age 88 in July, 2004
Image courtesy of the “Phil Thomas Collection”