Metcalfe - known among fellow professionals as "the snake" for his talent in wriggling into the winning break of a race - was handicapped at first by two years' compulsory national service with the army. He, like his brother Ken, was a military policeman in Cyprus. He soon made a name on leaving the army at 21 and in 1962 came 23rd in his first ride in the Tour of Britain, known then as the Milk Race. In 1964 he took the race yellow jersey after winning alone in the stage to Cardiff and he held the lead to the finish in Blackpool. He was celebrated for the long, lone attacks he often made through hilly countryside.
His obituary in the Daily Telegraph described him as "always physically tough and tactically astute."
In the same year, he also won two stages of the Tour du St Laurent in Canada. The British enthusiast, Mike Breckon, who saw Metcalfe in that race, said:
- "It was a world-class field and over tough terrain. The British team had a tough time with crashes and punctures. But then Arthur decided to do something about it. On the last four stages of the race he finished first, sixth, first and third... Including a display of climbing... which left some of the world's best riders grovelling."
In 1965 he won 23 times, including the Manx International, three laps of the Snaefell mountain course on the Isle of Man. Living once more in Leeds, he cycled from there to Liverpool, slept in a telephone box and then caught the ferry to the island. In 1966 he won the national amateur road race championship and, as an afterthought, the BBAR with a record average speed of 24.797 mph. The BBAR aggregated speeds of riders over 50 miles, 100 miles and 12 hours and specialist time-triallists usually devote their whole season to it. Metcalfe won in three straight rides, almost as an afterthought. "I remember thinking I needed a change. I'd ridden a few time trials in the past and so I thought I'd have another go," he said.
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