Malcolm Prince, a 'legend' of Gloucestershire cycling who organised the annual Tour of the Cotswolds race for many years, has died, aged 88, at his home in Ashleworth, near Gloucester.

Numerous tributes have been paid to Mr Prince, who chaired the former Severn Valley Cycling Club for about forty years.

The club ran the Tour of the Cotswolds, which was at that time the biggest one day cycling race in the country, and Mr Prince and his wife Pat played a major role in its organisation.

A tribute from Gloucester City Cycling Club this week said "Malcolm left the city Club in 1955 to found the Severn Valley Cycling Club and later became well known as the driving force behind the Tour of the Cotswolds road race."

Member Jonathan David said "Malcolm was a local cycling legend."

Another member, John Barnes, commented "Malcolm dedicated so much of his time to cycling and worked tirelessly to promote the sport. He did a fantastic job organising The Tour Of The Cotswolds for many years. He will be greatly missed."

And fellow city cyclist John Capelin said "Malcolm was a lovely man and so very committed to cycling. As a 13 year old newcomer in 1971 he coached me in my introduction to cycling. Since then he has always been a part of my cycling life. He is a massive loss to the sport. Very sad."

Stonemason Chris Ransome recalled his cycling days going out on training runs with Malcolm and admiring his fearless descending on the steepest of local hills.

"He was a fantastic descender - the only person I ever saw go down Birdlip Hill without touching his brakes," said Chris. "He got to about 60mph, leaving everyone else behind."

Chris recalled that in his late teens in 1979 he and two other young riders were taken to Ireland by Malcolm and Pat to represent the Western Division in a five day race - all of them packed into a Mini Traveller with the bikes on the roof and the luggage in the boot.

"The starter motor broke and we had to push start the Mini to get it going throughout the trip," he said. "We would park on hilltops to make sure we could get it going again.

"Malcolm put an incredible amount of time and effort into our training - you could always count on him. He was a great coach and he was always out working with the riders come rain or shine."

Derby-born Mr Prince, who is survived by wife Pat, son Ian, three grandchildren and three great grandchildren, moved to Gloucestershire as an eight year old when his engineer father got a job at the Rotol factory in the city (later, Dowty Rotol).

Mrs Prince recalled that the reason Malcolm first started cycling in his youth was so he could travel to indulge his passion for visiting castles.

But the Pates Grammar schoolboy soon found that he enjoyed the cycling more than seeing the castles and he took up riding as a sport, she said.

He joined Gloucester City Cycling Club in 1951, aged 19, before going up to Oxford University to study French and German at Jesus College, where he gained a Masters.

After university, Malcolm went to work for Dowty's at Arle Court and later at Dowty Deals and became an export manager, spending 25 years with the firm.

Following that he worked in the management of an an angling store in Tewkesbury. His final job was with the Haines and Strange Vauxhall Dealership in Cheltenham where his self-taught skills as a car mechanic stood him in good stead until he retired at 65.

Mrs Prince recalled that they were brought together in 1955 by their shared love of cycling. She was already a keen cyclist in her home city of Bristol and she was introduced by a friend to Malcolm at a three day race event.

"We spent three days just chatting and getting to know each other," she recalled. "Then a couple of weeks later my friend Pip, who had introduced us, handed me a letter from Malcolm. In it he asked me to go out with him!

"We courted for the next three years and then got married at the Bristol Register Office and we were together for 63 years.

"I am sure it worked so well because we were always a team together."

Pat said Malcolm had been quickly enlisted as an official of the Oxford University Cycling Club during his student days in 1952/3 and then on returning home he was appointed by Gloucester City CC as a delegate to the British League of Racing Cyclists.

In 1955, the year he moved to the Severn Valley Club, he was appointed a cycle race commisaire.

He took office as secretary of his new club and a few years later was elected chairman, a position he held from then until Severn Valley was wound up in 2008.

The Tour of the Cotswolds - at which Malcolm was a familiar sight as he commentated on the race from his classic open topped Daimler SP250 sports car - had been started by the Severn Valley club in the early Fifties.

When Malcolm was chairman and his wife treasurer they were integrally involved with organising the race, which reached its peak in the 1990s when it was sponsored annually by Gloucester-based Ecclesiastical Insurance.

When the sponsorship finished and Malcolm was approaching his 70th birthday he decided to retire from organising the event - and the Tour came to an end.

Malcolm had always made a point of inviting riders from the major European cycling nations of that time to compete in the Tour and teams from Belgium, France, Holland and Ireland regularly took part.

Stephen Roche was probably the most celebrated cyclist ever to have taken part. Irish-born Roche was runner-up in the 1979 King of the Mountains in the Tour of the Cotswolds while still an amateur rider. He went on to win the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia in 1987, the same year he was crowned world road race champion.

In 1976 Pat McQuaid - who later served as president of the world pro-cycling governing body, the UCI - lifted the Tour of the Cotswolds trophy.

Former pro cyclist Rob Hayles won the King of the Mountains in the Cotswolds tour in 1997 and Matt Stephens, former pro cyclist and now a Eurosport pro-cycling commentator, came second in the penultimate Tour of the Cotswolds in 2000.

Malcolm and Pat often entertained as many as 20-25 of the foreign team riders at their two bedroom bungalow in Ashleworth, somehow squeezing them all in for meals!

"Malcolm devoted so much of his life to cycling - as a rider, coach, a club official," said Pat. "It's been very touching to receive lots of cards and messages from people he coached or helped in other ways in cycling and see how much they admired and respected him."

Malcolm died on October 8 after four years battling multiple myeloma cancer of the bone marrow.

"Towards the end they wanted to take him to hospital but he was determined to stay at home. He loved the cottage, where we have lived for 52 years, and he wanted to die at home" she said.