|Classic de Vlaeminck territory - on the Koppenberg|
Born on this day in 1947 into a family of traveling clothes merchants (hence his later nickname, "The Gypsy"), de Vlaeminck's childhood love was football; but if a youngster wanted to make his name as an athlete in Belgium cycling was the way forward, and the best place to start was in cyclo cross. Encouraged by older brother Erik - who by this time had already won 17 races of his own - he began racing cross as a junior in 1965. He won two races that year, both cross, and one cross and one road race in 1966. Then in 1967 he won 14 and reached the podium in ten more.
De Vlaeminck remained a professional for 20 years and, for a decade, seemed all but unbeatable in the Classics: his remarkable palmares includes Milan-San Remo (1973, 1978, 1979), two Milano-Torino (1972, 1974), two Giri di Lombardia (1974, 1976), two Omloops Het Volk (1969, 1979) and two Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne (1970, 1971), Scheldeprijs (1970), the E3 Harelbeke (1971), Liège-Bastogne-Liège (1970), La Flèche Wallonne (1971), the Ronde van Vlaanderen (1977) and Paris-Brussels (1981) in addition World Cyclo Cross Championship (1975), two National Road Race Championships (1969, 1981), General Classification and six stage wins at the 1975 Tour de Suisse, six consecutive overall General Classification victories at Tirreno-Adriatico between 1972 and 1977 and 22 stage wins (including seven in 1975 alone) plus overall Points competition triumphs at the Giro d'Italia between 1972 and 1979.
|De Vlaeminck's pavé on the Chemin des Géants leading|
to Roubaix velodrome
De Vlaeminck is estimated to have won some 257 races during his career, though the figure may be higher as he continued to race small criterium events the results of which sometimes go unrecorded. He is still involved in cycling today, coaching the cyclo cross stars of the future at his farm near Kaprijke, and he is regularly approached for comments by journalists who know that his passionate and sometimes controversial opinions on modern cycling are always good value.
|Cuban Women's Team, Pan-Am Championships 2005.|
Second from the right: Yuliet Rodríguez Jiménez
José Antonio Hermida, born in Puigcerdà, Spain on this day in 1978, was European Mountain Bike Champion in 2002, 2004 and 2007, National Cyclo Cross Champion in 2007 and 2008 and World Cross Country MTB Champion in 2010.
Romain Hardy, born in Flers, France on this day in 1988, has been riding for the pro continental Bretagne-Schuller team since 2010 - the year that he won Stage 4 at the Tour de l'Avenir. In 2013, he will be moving up a step to Cofidis and may make his first appearance at the Grand Tours.
Other cyclists born on this day: Matthew Glaetzer (Australia, 1992); Cyrille Monnerais (France, 1983); Mohamed Mir (Algeria, 1963); Wang Yan (China, 1974); Edward Salas (Australia, 1965); Aurélie Halbwachs (Mauritius, 1986); Nguyễn Văn Châu (South Vietnam, 1940); Fredy Arber (Switzerland, 1928).