Founded in 1983, the Surrey League is the UK’s largest road cycling league

The 1964 British National Road Race Champion, Keith Butler, has died at the age of 80. Butler won stages of the Milk Race and the Tour of Britain as an amateur and raced as a pro in Belgium, but for many he will be best-known as the founder of the Surrey League.

Butler’s father, Stan, was a prominent time-triallist who rode in the Olympic Games. Keith rode as a pro for a series of teams between 1964 and 1968 and helped Tom Simpson to his 1965 world championship win in Spain.

He later managed a series of teams, including the British team at the 1986 world championships in Colorado.

Butler started the Surrey League in 1983, having promoted his first road race the previous year. That year the league had only 16 affiliated clubs and promoted 28 races. It now provides racing for over 1,300 riders in over 150 races each year.

In 2009, Butler was named as one of 50 cycling heroes who were the first inductees in British Cycling’s Hall of Fame.

Writing on the Surrey Cycle League Facebook page, Glyn Durrant said: “It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I can confirm that Keith Butler has passed away. Keith was the founder of the Surrey League in 1983 having previously been both UK amateur and professional road race champion and having raced as a professional in Europe.

“Keith was the biggest influence in my life and my hero, and I owe so much to him. Keith touched so many lives in Surrey and the rest of the UK with his dedication to the cycling world. RIP Keith, you will be missed and remembered by all who knew you.”

A statement on British Cycling's website said: "Everybody at British Cycling was deeply saddened by the news of Keith Butler’s passing on the morning of Wednesday 13 March.

"As the first man to win both the amateur and professional national road race titles, team manager for the Great Britain Cycling Team at the 1986 UCI Road World Championships in Colorado and latterly as a member of the Board, Keith will forever sit among the pantheon of greats who pioneered the sport on these shores and laid the foundations for those who followed.

"He was also a longstanding member of the Road Commission and South East Regional Board, and one of the inaugural inductees in the British Cycling Hall of Fame in recognition of his lasting contribution to our sport.

"We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Keith for the tireless and unfailing contribution he made throughout his life, and his legacy lives on through the racing scene in Surrey and all of those who have been inspired and supported to ride through his endeavours.

"The thoughts of everybody, both at British Cycling and in the wider cycling community, are with Keith’s family and friends at this difficult time."

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