Saturday, 26 July 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 26.07.2014

Uwe Raab at Paris-Roubaix
Uwe Raab, born in Wittenberg, East Germany in this day in 1962, won the Points competition at the Vuelta a Espana in 1990 and 1991. He also became World Amateur Road Race Champion in 1983.

Very few riders enjoy a career in competitive cycling as long as that of Geoff Cooke, who was born in Manchester on this day in 1944: his first major victory was the Sprint at the British Track Championships in 1963; almost half a century later he also won the Sprint for the 65-69 class at the World Championships in 2009. He has been a National Champion no fewer than 31 times, a World Masters Champion 18 times and held the World Masters Sprint Champion title for seven consecutive years between 1996 and 2002. In addition to racing, Cooke was a British Cycling coach for ten years and still works a youth coach to this day.

Julien Vermote, born in Kortrijk on this day in 1989, enjoyed an extremely successful amateur career and became Junior Champion of Belgium in 2004, came second in the Juniors Ronde van Vlaanderen in 2007 and was National Under-23 Time Trial Champion in 2009. He signed to  QuickStep in 2011 and, as tends to be the case when a rider first moves up to the top level of the sport, had a quiet year whilst adjusting to the increased competition; overall victory at the Dreidaagse van West-Vlaanderen and tenth place for Stage 21 at the Giro d'Italia in 2012 suggests he's finding his feet.

Spain has produced many great climbers, but few as good as Aurelio González Puente who was born in Valle de Villaverde on this day in 1940 and spent his entire career with KAS-Kaskol. In 1966, only his second year as a professional, he came third in the King of the Mountains at the Tour de France; the year after that he was third overall at the Vuelta a Espana, then won the King of the Mountains at the Giro d'Italia; in 1968, he won his first Tour stage (Stage 6) and the King of the Mountains. It seems likely that Puente could have been another Bahamontes, winning a Tour in a year when the mountains were given especial importance (and had Eddy Merckx not dominated it so entirely in the coming years); however, from 1969 he began to experience bad luck and failed to finish that year or the next. In 1970, he retired after a relatively short career of seven years.

Brice Feillu, born in Châteaudun on this day in 1985, won Stage 7 and came 25th overall at the 2009 Tour de France when he rode for Agritubel, the team with which he started his professional career one year earlier. In 2010 he moved to Vacansoleil, then in 2011 to LeopardTrek, but won no races with either. In 2012 he moved again, this time to Saur-Sojasun, and picked up a series of good top ten finishes including fifth place on Stage 16 at the Tour, and remained with the team until its demise at the end of 2013. For 2014, Brice has been with Bretagne-Séché Environnement where he rides alongside his brother Romain (a sprinter, whereas Brice specialises in climbing) following a few years in which they rode on different teams.

Christophe Laurent won the King of the Mountains at the Tour de l'Avenir in 2002 and at the Tour of California in 2007. He was born in Mende, France, on this day in 1977.

Jef Demuysere
Born in Wervik, Belgium on this day in 1907, Jef Demuysere won Stage 10 and finished third overall at the 1929 Tour de France, then fourth overall in 1930. In 1931 he won Stages 15 and 18 and finished in second place behind Antonin Magne, a placing he repeated at the Giro d'Italia in 1932 and 1933. In 1934 he won Milan-San Remo, the third Belgian to have ever done so.

Other cyclists born on this day: Romain Lemarchand (France, 1987); Ivan Kovalev (Russia, 1986); Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Italy, 1983); René Jørgensen (Denmark, 1975); Honorio Machado (Venezuela, 1982); Rudi Valenčič (Yugoslavia, 1941); Stanisław Zieliński (Poland, 1912, died 1939); Gottlieb Weber (Switzerland, 1910, died 1996); Jeon Dae-Heung (South Korea, 1976); Glenn Clarke (Australia, 1963); Errol Walters (Jamaica, 1956); Richard Ball (USA, 1944); Paul McCormack (Ireland, 1963); Étienne Chéret (France, 1886); Arne Klavenes (Norway, 1952); Anders Adamson (Sweden, 1957); Emil Schöpflin (Germany, 1910); Chris Wheeler (Australia, 1914, died 1984).

Friday, 25 July 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 25.07.2014

Ruslan Pidgornyy, born in Ukraine on this day in 1977, began his professional career with De Nardi-Pasta Montegrappa in 2002 and won the Giro del Friuli Venezia Giulia in 2003. He became National Road Race Champion in 2008. In 2004, Pidgornyy and team mate Yuriy Ivanov were sacked by the LPR-Piacenzi Management SRL team after they were accused of assaulting and robbing a woman working as a prostitute near Emilia in Italy. According to news reports at the time, the pair attempted to drag the woman into a car but were unsuccessful, then stole €150 from her - both men admitted their guilt. Two other members of the team, Dimitri Konyshev and Andrey Karpachev, were also arrested but were not sacked as they had apparently taken no active part in the attack. Pidgornyy was offered a contract with the Irish Tenax team the following year and remained with them for four years, later joining ISD-Neri for two seasons and ending his career with Vacansoleil-DCM in 2011.

Stage 4, Tour de France 1904
François Beaugendre, born in France on this day in 1880, rode in the 1903 Tour de France - the first ever held - and came ninth overall, 10h52'14" behind winner Maurice Garin. He entered again the following year and finished Stages 3 and 4 in third place, but then failed to start Stage 5; after numerous riders were disqualified some months after the race had ended, he became official winner of Stage 4 and leader of the race with an advantage of 25'15" over eventual General Classification winner Henri Cornet. Beaugendre rode the Tour again in 1907 and 1908, coming first fifth and then thirteenth, and retired in 1911. His brothers Joseph and Omer were also cyclists - Joseph rode the Tour in 1909, Omer - who won Paris-Tours in 1908 - in 1910.

Wilfried Trott, born in West Germany on this day in 1948, won the Rund um Köln a record three times (1972, 1976 and 1979).

Other cyclists born on this day: Matt Illingworth (Great Britain, 1968); Nacer Bouhanni (France, 1990); Alfred Letourneur (France, 1907); Jean Eudes Demaret (France, 1984); François Beaugendre (France, 1880); Guillaume Levarlet (France, 1985); Wladimir Belli (Italy, 1970); Gerardo Moncada (Colombia, 1962); Peter Riis Andersen (Denmark, 1980); Kosaku Takahashi (Japan, 1944); Robert Farrell (Trinidad and Tobago, 1949); Declan Lonergan (Ireland, 1969); Maurice Gillen (Luxembourg, 1895, died 1974); Per Digerud (Norway, 1933, died 1988); Masaki Inoue (Japan, 1979); Alfred Gaida (West Germany, 1951); Kouflu Alazar (Ethiopia, 1931).

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 24.07.2014

Ferdinand Kübler
Ferdinand Kübler
Born in Marthalen, Switzerland in 1919, Ferdinand Kübler - commonly called Ferdi, though he prefers Ferdy - is 95 years old today: making him the oldest surviving Tour de France winner in the world and the longest lived Tour winner in history. In his best years, Ferdy was like no rider seen before: an uncontrollable, impulsive, unstoppable rider every bit as likely to throw his chances away in a suicidal attack as to impress with his enormous talent. Ending his career took no less an opponent than Mont Ventoux, and he won more than 400 victories. Had he not have been limited to Swiss races in the early days of his career by the Nazi occupation of Europe, he might easily have come closer to Eddy Merckx's record of 525.

Kübler's professional career began with the Cilo team in 1940 and he became National Pursuit Champion on the track that year; he kept the title and won a stage at the Tour de Suisse the following year when he rode for the P. Egli Rad team. In 1942 he won the National Hill Climb Championship and the General Classification at the Tour de Suisse, then in 1943 he won the Pursuit Championship for a third time. In 1944 and 1945, he won A Travers Lausanne for the fourth and then fifth time and, in the latter year, also became National Cyclo Cross Champion; with the war over he was free to compete in foreign events but had a quiet year. He entered the Tour de France with the Tebag team in 1947 and won Stages 1 and 5, wearing the maillot jaune for one day and abandoning in Stage 7; having won the National Road Race Championship, the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Suisse in 1948 he returned to the Tour in 1949 (having won the National Road Race Championship again) and won Stage 5, this time he abandoned in Stage 18. Later that year he won the silver medal at the World Road Race Championships.

There are those who say that had Fauto Coppi not have broken his pelvis at the Giro d'Italia and had Gino Bartali's Italian team have stayed in the race instead of going with him when he abandoned after allegedly being threatened by a man with a knife, Kübler would not have won the 1950 Tour de France. Coppi may indeed have won if he was able to race; but he wasn't and that's how cycling works, so that point is irrelevant. Bartali was aging and coming to the end of his career - he had been one of the greatest Tour riders ever seen and was still capable of beating far younger men in the mountains, but in this edition the time trials counted for a great deal and he wasn't as fast as he once was. Magni, meanwhile, was a superb rider in the flat time trials, as can be seen by his second place finish in Stage 6 when he was only 17" behind Kübler; but he wasn't much of a climber. Kübler could climb and time trial, so it seems that his insistence that he'd have won regardless is probably correct. Either way, it was a fair-and-square victory and we'll never know what might have been. It should also be remembered that he had phenomenal form that year, winning thirteen other races, fourth place overall at the Giro and three Tour stages.

Kübler on the Tour, 1950
Kübler met his match on the 18th of July in 1955, the day his impulsiveness led him to make a serious mistake - underestimating Ventoux. The Giant of Provence wasn't in the mood to go easy on anyone that day, as Jean Malléjac discovered, not even realising what was happening to him when he collapsed on the seared asphalt - when the doctors got to Malléjac they found him lying flat on the stony ground with one leg still trying to turn the pedals and he didn't regain consciousness for a quarter of an hour (he wasn't the only one - no fewer than six men collapsed and needed medical assistance that day).

Kübler had believed himself able to tame the mountain. Raphaël Géminiani tried to warn him: "Watch out, Ferdy - the Ventoux is not like any other col." Kübler, with his curious habit of referring to himself in the third person, replied: "Ferdy is not like any other rider." Then he tried to sprint to the summit, and hadn't got very far before he was reduced to begging for a push from spectators to get over. On the way down, ashen-faced and in a cold sweat, he found a bar and started drinking heavily - other customers persuaded him to continue and got him back on his bike, but he set off in the wrong direction and finished in 42nd place. "He is too old, Ferdy; he is to sick - Ferdy has killed himelf on the Ventoux," he told a press conference that night, then abandoned and never returned to the Tour. He won three races the following year, then retired in 1957.

After his racing years came to an end, Ferdy bought a flower shop and became manager of the Italian Gazzola team, home to Charly Gaul; another rider who sometimes foamed at the mouth when climbing, but a climber to whom even Ventoux paid respect. He was also a friend of Tom Simpson, who bore a passing resemblance to him - Simpson, of course, died on Ventoux in 1968. Kübler is still involved in Tour de Suisse public relations work to this day.

Daniel Morelon 
Daniel Morelon, born in Bourg-en-Bresse on this day in 1944, began cycling after going to see some races with his father and two older brothers. Having originally dreamed of a career as a road racer, he developed an interest in track cycling after watching Sante Gaiardoni winning the gold medals for the 1,000m Time Trial and Sprint at the 1960 Olympics; decided that his future lay in the velodrome, he entered his first race two years later and crashed (due to forgetting that he was on a fixed-gear bike, he said) yet still finished second behind Pierre Trentin, who would become his great rival.

In 1963, Morelon was summoned to complete his National Service with the French Army and joined the Insep National Sports Institute, which brought him into contact with coaches and training levels operating at the top levels of cycling. Within a year, he was specialising in the Sprint and was able to beat then World Champion Patrick Sercu - and two years later, he was World Champion himself: as he would be again in 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973 and 1975. Despite their rivarly, Morelon and Trentin often rode together in tandem events and became World Champions in 1966.

Morelon retired in 1977 and became National Coach; however, in 1980 he returned to competition and won silver for the Keirin and bronze for the Sprint at the European Championships. In 1990 he became chief of a training facility in Hyeres, where he coached Laurent Gané and developed a new rivalry with his Parisian counterpart Gérard Quintyn, the coach responsible for Florian Rousseau. Both men retired following the 2004 Olympics; while Morelon was taken on by the Italian team prior to the 2008 Games he decided instead to work for the Chinese, coaching Guo Shuang.

Josef Fuchs, born in Einseideln, Switzerland on this day in 1948, won Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 1981.

Daisuke Imanaka, who was born in Hiroshima on this day in 1963, became the second Japanese rider to ride the Giro d'Italia (1995) and the Tour de France (1996).

Cyclists born on this day: Gerard Bosch van Drakestein (Netherlands, 1887, died 1972); Deb Murrell (Great Britain, 1966); Radiša Čubrić (Yugoslavia, later Serbia, 1962); Alberto Ongarato (Italy, 1975); Levi Heimans (Netherlands, 1985); Bob Downs (Great Britain, 1955); Aitor Pérez (Euskadi, 1977); Gabriele Missaglia (Italy, 1970); Adriano Durante (1940); Bjørn Stiler (Denmark, 1911); Bent Pedersen (Denmark, 1945); Heinz Richter (East Germany, 1947); Vratislav Šustr (Czechoslovakia, 1959); Arturo Gériz (Spain, 1964); Dania Pérez (Cuba, 1973); Tanasije Kuvalja (Yugoslavia, 1946); Kleanthis Barngas (Greece, 1978); Robert Pfarr (USA, 1920, died 2006).

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 23.07.2014

Judith Arndt
Born in Königs Wusterhausen, Germany on this day in 1976, Judith Arndt became one of the greatest and most popular all-rounders in cycling with numerous excellent results in road racing, time trials and on the track.

Arndt turned professional with the Red Bull team in 1999, at a time when she already had five National titles and one World Championship to her name. As a result she did not experience a year or two in which her results dipped while she adjusted to the increased competition as most riders do when they move up to the top level of the sport - having been competing at Elite level since 1995, there was no nasty "big step up" surprise waiting for her and in that first year she won Stage 1 and second place in the overall General Classification at the Holland Ladies' Tour, the Tour de Bretagne and numerous other events. She was a popular favourite for the 2000 Olympics but picked up a virus shortly before the Games; however, the National Pursuit and Points race prevented the year from becoming a total wash-out, as did silver medals for the same two events at the World Championships.

2001 was the year in which Arndt transformed herself from a track rider who could also ride well on the road into a world-beating road racer, winning another Tour de Bretagne and the Gracia Orlova in addition to second place at the Tour de l'Aude, the Thüringen-Rundfahrt and the Women's Challenge. She also won the National Individual Time Trial Championship for a third time and came third in the Road Race at the Nationals. One year later she won the National Road Race, the Women's Challenge, the Tour de l'Aude, the Tour de Snowy and the Redlands Classic. Since then, she has added more three more victories at the Gracia Orlova (2005, 2006, 2007), another Tour de l'Aude (2003), two editions of the Emakumeen Bira (2009, 2012), the National Individual Time Trial title another six times (2003, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2012), the Tour of Qatar (2012), two editions of the Ronde van Vlaanderen (2008, 2012), numerous other races and a vast number of other podium places. She called an end to her long career at the end of 2012, having won a number of very prestigious races, the National Road Race Championship, the National ITT Championship and the World ITT Championship and earned a silver medal in the time trial at the Olympics that year.

Sometimes outspoken, Arndt has clashed with the German cycling federation in the past. The most notable example of this came in 2004 when she raised her finger at the judges as she crossed the line (the gesture means "fuck off" in many nations) to show what she thought of the Federation's decision not to select her partner Petra Rossner in the Olympic team (Rossner won the World Cup in 2002 and had become National Road Race Champion two months before the Games; it does, therefore, seem strange that she wasn't selected). The Federation, as tends to be the way with national cycling federations, didn't take kindly to being criticised by a rider and forced Arndt to apologise; nevertheless, she earned an army of new fans.

Roger Hassenforder
Since the earliest days of the sport, cycling has been populated by eccentrics and characters - one of the most amusing of them all was Roger Hassenforder, who was born in Sausheim, France on this day in 1930 and became known as le boute-en-train ("the merry-maker") to the French and de Clown van de Elzas ("the Clown of Alsace") the the Dutch and Flemish. One of his most popular stunts was giving interviews during races, including the Tour de France.

Most cyclists rarely win anything, some win many races and a few will enjoy success at the Tour. Hassenforder was an unusual case in that almost all of his successes came in the Tour and he won very few smaller events - he won a total of eight Tour stages, including four in 1956 alone, and wore the maillot jaune for four days in 1953. Yet, he never won a Tour and in fact finished just one of the sixth he entered: 1956 when, despite those four stage wins, he was 50th overall.

When Hassenforder retired, he opened a cafe at Kaysersberg, one of the most beautiful and historic towns in the Alsace. It rapidly became a favourite haunt of local cyclists and those who visited from around the world, growing into a restaurant and hotel - it can still be found at 129 Rue General de Gaulle and, while no longer owned by the Hassenforder family, the new owners have been wise enough to keep it as the rider intended and have kept both the Hassenforder name and the restaurant's cycling links.

The Basque cyclist David Etxebarria, born in Abadiño on this day in 1973, won the Tour de l'Avenir in 1996 and Stages 9 and 12 at the Tour de France in 1999.

Jean Fontenay, who was born in Hirel on this day in 1911, came second overall at Paris-Nice in 1936 and wore the maillot jaune for two stages in the 1939 Tour de France.

Jörg Jaksche, born in Fürth, Germany on this day in 1976, won Paris-Nice and the Tour Méditerranéen in 2004, then came 16th overall at the Tour de France the following year. In 2006 he was one of the nine riders blocked from taking part in the Tour as part of the Operación Puerto investigation; in 2007 he admitted that he was "Bella," one of the code names used in documents seized from Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, and that he had received blood transfusions administered by the doctor.

Cyclists born on this day: Daniela Gassmann (Switzerland, 1964); Oleksandr Kvachuk (USSR/Ukraine, 1983); Rik Verbrugghe (Belgium, 1974); José Pittaro (Argentina, 1946); Hans-Peter Jakst (West Germany, 1954); Ali Ben Ali (Tunisia, 1933); Olaf Meyland-Smith (Denmark, 1882, died 1924); Benny Deschrooder (Belgium, 1980); Zoltán Halász (Hungary, 1960); Roberto Lezaun (Spain, 1967).

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 22.07.2014

Wiggins wins
On this day in 2012, Bradley Wiggins became the first British winner in the history of the Tour de France.

Giovanni Battaglin
Born in Marostica on this day in 1951, Giovanni Battaglin became one of the shining lights of Italian cycling at a time when it seemed the Belgians were going to take the sport over completely.

Battaglin first came to note in 1972 when he won the Baby Giro, the amateur version of the Giro d'Italia, which brought immediate offers to turn professional. He chose Jolljceramica and would remain with them for five seasons - and in his first year, aged only 21, amazed the cycling world by finishing third overall in the General Classification (behind Eddy Merckx and Felice Gimondi) and King of the Mountains (behind José Manuel Fuente and Merckx) at the Giro d'Italia. These were truly remarkable results: a serious new talent had arrived and some wondered if Battaglin might even prove a greater rider than Merckx, who was then at the height of his powers.

In 1974 he finished sixth, proving that he could repeat his good performance; in 1975 he won a stage for the first time (Stage 13, an individual time trial) but didn't finish the race, later that year he rode his first Tour de France and finished two stages in the top ten but once again couldn't finish the race. In 1976 he won Stage 2 at the Tour but failed to finish for the second time and in 1978 he won Stages 6, 7 and 8 at the Tour de Suisse.

1979 would be Battaglin's real breakthrough year with General Classification victory at the Tour of the Basque Country and the King of the Mountains at the Tour de France, where he was sixth overall despite receiving a penalty when he failed an anti-doping test. He won Stage 18 and came third overall at the Giro a year later, but his career thus far was merely a run-up to 1981 - the year that he won the Vuelta a Espana courtesy of a superb ride by his Inoxpran team in the Stage 10 mountain team time trial, then began the Giro three days after the Vuelta ended. He took the lead in Stage 19 and kept it for the remainder of the race, becoming the second man (after Merckx in 1973) to win the Vuelta and Giro in a single season.

He rode the Tour again in 1982 and 1984, but had nothing like his earlier success: his best placing was 46th for Stage 3 in 1982. He did, meanwhile, manage third place for Stage 9 at the Giro in 1984, but it was obvious that for Battaglin the best years came early and he retired later that year. The bike company he started in 1982 is still in operation, its products are among the most desirable bikes in the world.

Rasa Leleivytė
Three-time Lithuanian National Champion Rasa Leleivytė, born in Vilnius on this day in 1988, became World Junior Champion in 2006 and won the GP Città di Cornaredo in 2011. On the 18th of July 2012, the UCI revealed that an out-of-competition sample she provided on the 12th of June had tested positive for EPO; she was provisionally suspended pending investigation. When the investigation concluded that she had in fact used the drug, she was fined €5040 and handed a two-year ban, which came to an end nine days before her birthday in 2014.

Pascale Jules, born in La Garenne-Colombes on this day in 1961, won Stage 8 at the 1984 Tour de France. He was a close friend of Laurent Fignon and rode with him on the Renault-Elf team, the pair of them hoping to become the successors to Bernard Hinault, but moved to Seat-Orbea following a row with team manager Cyrille Guimard.

Jean-Claude Leclercq, born in Abbeville on this day in 1962, was French National Road Race Champion in 1985.

Jean-Claude Lebaube, born in Renneville on this day in 1937, wore the yellow jersey of the Tour de France for one day after Stage 11 in 1966. He was fourth in the overall General Classification at the 1963 Tour and fifth in 1965.

Cyclists born on this day: Ryan Anderson (Canada, 1987); Sam Bewley (New Zealand, 1987); Dries Devenyns (Belgium, 1983); Janek Tombak (USSR/Estonia, 1976); Pascal Jules (France, 1961); Patrick McDonough (USA, 1961); Francisco Pérez Sanchez (Spain, 1978); Godtfred Olsen (Denmark, 1883, died 1954); Pakanit Boriharnvanakhet (Thailand, 1949); Akio Kuwazawa (Japan, 1959); José Prieto(Cuba, 1949); Hjalmar Väre (Finland, 1892, died 1952); Max Triebsch (Germany, 1885); Daniel Amardeilh (France, 1959); Frits Schür (Netherlands, 1950); Bojan Udovic (Yugoslavia, 1957); Rufin Molomadan (Central African Republic, 1967); Jukka Heinikainen (Finland, 1972); Koloman Sovic (Yugoslavia, 1899, died 1971); Sjaak Pieters (Netherlands, 1957); Mario Vanegas (Colombia, 1939).

Monday, 21 July 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 21.07.2014

Stefan Schumacher
Stefan Schumacher
Born in Ostfildern-Ruit on this day in 1981, the German rider Stefan Schumacher has achieved many very good results during his ten years as a professional - but has also been connected to doping numerous times. He began with Telekom in 2002 and remained there for two years but didn't perform well, leading the team to drop him; then he moved on to Lamonta and won a handful of criteriums, a stage at the Bayern Rundfahrt and silver in the National Championships. This earned him a contract with Shimano-Memory Corp for 2005, the year he won Stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 at the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt. He also fell foul of an anti-doping test for the first time that year, testing positive for the stimulant cathine.

An investigation could find no reason to disagree with Schumacher's explanation that the drug had entered his system via an asthma medicine prescribed to him by his mother, a fully and officially registered physician. She had checked the WADA banned drugs list and the medicine was not on it; he was cleared. All well and good: it appeared justice had been done and a hole in the regulations that might lead to future injustice was closed up. However, two years later he was stopped by police, breathalysed and found to be over the limit for alcohol; he was, therefore, arrested and subjected to a blood test (to confirm the breathalyser result) - and it proved positive for amphetamines. Since amphetamines' physical effects are short-lived, positive out-of-competition tests no longer resulted in an automatic ban; this time the rider claimed he had no idea at all how the drug might have got into his body, once again he escaped punishment and remained with the Gerolsteiner team.

In 2007, Schumacher recorded abnormal blood values (indication of a red blood cell-boosting drug such as EPO or an illegal blood transfusion). In October 2008, news reports emerged claiming that Schumacher had tested positive for CERA, an EPO-variant, at the Tour de France. This time, there was no way out: early in 2009, he was banned from competition for two years. A few months later it was revealed that he had also tested positive for the same drug at the Olympics - he still denies that he is a doper, but dropped his appeal against the ban in April 2010, at which point he had three months until the backdated ban expired.

Schumacher returned to cycling with the Continental-class Miche team and stayed with them until the end of 2011; in 2012 he switched to Christina Watches-Onfone and won the Tour ta'Malta and Serbian Kroz Srbiju, then remained with them in 2013 and won a stage at the Tour of Algeria and another at Romania's Sibiu Tour.

Francis Moreau
Francis Moreau finished in second place at the GP des Nations in 1994. That same year he was 113th at the Tour de France - his father died during Stage 9, but had left a specific order that his son should not abandon.

Hendrikus Johannes Maria Stamsnijder, born in Enter in the Netherlands on this day in 1954 and known as Hennie, is a retired road and cyclo cross rider who won the Superprestige in 1983, 1984, 1987 and 1989 - a record until Sven Nys' fifth victory in 2005 (Nys has since won six more times). Hennie retired from competition in 1989 to care for his sick son Tom; Tom is now a professional rider himself and has ridden five Grand Tours.

Anthony Malarczyk, born in Newport, Wales on this day in 1975, has assembled an impressive palmares in road cycling and mountain biking including third place in the 2000 Manx Trophy, top ten finishes in the National Time Trial Championships and victory in the Masters age group at the National Mountain Bike Championships. In 2003 he was awarded compensation after an incident during a training ride in 2000 when a driver overtook him, dragged him from his bike and assaulted him.

Cyclists born today: Bert de Waele (Belgium, 1975); Suchha Singh (India, 1933); Viktor Logunov (USSR, 1944); Charles Schlee (born Denmark, took US nationality, 1873); Charles Delaporte (France, 1880); Fabrice Colas (France, 1964); Juan Diego Ramírez (Colombia, 1971); Petar Georgiev (Bulgaria, 1929); Oswald Rathmann (Germany, 1891); Boris Dimitrov (Bulgaria, 1912); Ortwin Czarnowski (Germany, 1940); Colin Davidson (Canada, 1969); Kurt Nemetz (Austria, 1926); Georges Wambst (France, 1902, died 1988).

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 20.07.2014

Giovanni Lombardi
Giovanni Lombardi
Born in Pavia on this day in 1969, Giovanni Lombardi suffered from the same problem that many sprinters suffer from today - in almost any other era, he'd have been the best in the world. Whereas modern sprinters are eclipsed by the incredible talent of Mark Cavendish, Lombardi found himself unable to compete with Erik Zabel and the might Mario Cipollini. A sufficiently wise man to realise that his skills could be put to good and productive use even if he was unlikely to ever attain the glory he's undoubtedly have liked, he ended a five-year stint with Italian teams in 1997 and went to Telekom to become Zabel's lead-out man. In return, the team supported him when opportunity arose for him to win, which he did with respectable regularity during the five years he spent with them - including stages at the Volta a Catalunya, the Österreich Rundfahrt, Bicicleta Vasca, Tirreno–Adriatico, the Vuelta a España, the Ronde van Nederland, the Vuelta a Burgos and the Danmark Rundt.

In 2002, he received what was then the ultimate accolade for any lead-out man in the form of an invitation to join Cipollini's Acqua e Sapone, and with them he won another stage at the Vuelta a Espana, two more at the Giro d'Italia and others at the Tour de Romandie, Tour Méditerranéen and Vuelta a Aragón. However, by 2003 Cipollini's powers were already fading; so after two more seasons working for the Lion King Lombardi moved on to Bjarne Riis' CSC team in Denmark and a new job leading out Ian Basso and Carlos Sastre. He was an instrumental part in Basso's second place at the Tour and overall victory at the Giro as well as in Sastre's second place overall and third in the Points competition in 2005, the year in which Lombardi was the only rider to complete all three Grand Tours.

Born in Kortezubi, Basque Country on this day in 1960, Federico Echave won stages in a variety of smaller stage races, then took Stage 5 at the 1985 Vuelta a Espana. Two years later he achieved the greatest ride of his life, one that any rider would love to have on his palmares: Stage 20, finishing at the summit of Alpe d'Huez, at the Tour de France. Another few years of stage wins in less prestigious races followed, then he came 6th and 5th overall at the Vuelta a Espana and Giro d'Italia respectively in 1990. In 1992 he was fifth at the Vuelta, but then began to fade away - another rider who got close enough to see the very top level of the sport, but could never quite get there.

On this day in 1985, John Kennedy Howard set a motor-paced bicycle speed record of 245kph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. It would not be bettered for ten years.

Cyclists born on this day: Peter Smessaert (USA, 1908, died 2000); Volker Winkler (East Germany, 1957); Washington Díaz (Uruguay, 1954); Károly Teppert (Hungary, 1891).