Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 16.04.2014

Henri Cornet
Paris-Roubaix fell on this date in 1906, 1922, 1933, 1972 and 1978. The 1906 winner was Henri Cornet, whose real name was Henri Jardry; nobody knows why he chose to race under a false name. Cornet had won the Tour de France two years previously after Maurice Garin (who had won the first Tour one year earlier and won this race in 1897 and 1898), Lucien Pothier, César Garin (Maurice's brother) and Hippolyte Aucouturier (who had won Paris-Roubaix in 1903 and 1904) were disqualified from the top four places for cheating and, as he was 19 at the time, he remains the youngest ever Tour winner. This victory, meanwhile, was won without luck - he beat Marcel Cadolle (whose career was cut short when he seriously injured his knee in the Tour one year later), René Pottier, Louis Trousselier, César Garin and Aucouturier fair and square in a final sprint. Photographs of Cornet show a rather glum, depressed-looking young man; but he was remembered by those who knew him as charming, quick to smile and in possession of a good sense of humour - including by Henri Desgrange, who nicknamed him Le Rigolo - "The Joker."

In 1922, the finish was moved to the Avénue des Villas, which has since been renamed the Avénue Gustave Delory, and where it would remain until 1928. The winner that year was Albert Dejonghe who would win Stage 4 at the Tour de France the following year, then finish in 5th place at the 1925 Tour and 6th in 1926. The 1933 edition was won by Sylvère Maes, who would also win the Tour de France in 1936 and 1939. Roger de Vlaeminck won in 1972, the first victory on the way to becoming the first - and to date, the only - man to have won Paris-Roubaix four times, his fourth victory coming in 1977 (in 2012, his record was finally equalled by Tom Boonen). Two minutes and thirteen seconds behind him was Wakefield-born Barry Hoban, who took 3rd place and (at the time of writing) the best ever result by a British rider.

Francesco Moser
(image credit: RoadWorks)
The 1978 race was won by Francesco Moser, the first step along his path to becoming the second man to win in three consecutive years (the first man to do so was Octave Lapize in 1911. Three new cobbled sections were used for the first time in 1978; the 3.1km Mons-en-Pévèle which has become known as one of the most dangerous parts of the race; the 1.4km Pont Thibaut to Ennevelin and the 1.1km Le Carrefour de l'Arbre to Gruson (Gruson, incidentally, was also the name of the little black dog that knocked Bernard Hinault off his bike, 13km from the finish of the 1982 Paris-Roubaix).

La Flèche Wallonne fell on this day in 1986 and 1997. 1986, the 50th edition of the race, ran for 248km from Spa to Huy - only one edition since has been longer. The winner was the legendary Laurent Fignon, one of his few victories during a two-year period in which he suffered a series of injuries. The 1997 race was the 61st edition, taking a 200.5km course which for a twelfth and final year ran from Spa to Huy. Laurent Jalabert won for a second time, his first win having been two years previously, which makes him the last Frenchman to have won this race.

Suzanne de Geode, born in Zoeterwoude, Netherlands on this day in 1984, came 2nd in the National Newcomers Road Race Championship of 2000, then won both the National and World Junior Road Race a year later before winning the Elite National title in 2003, then 3rd in 2006 and 2007 - and won the National Time Trial Championship, also at Elite level, in 2005. She won the Damesronde van Drenthe in 2005 and has achieved podium stage finishes in numerous prestigious events including the Holland Ladies' Tour (1st, Stage 3 2003; 2nd, Stage 6 2005; the Giro della Toscana (1st, Stage 1b 2005); the Omloop het Volk/Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (1st, 2006; 1st, 2009); the Tour de l'Aude (3rd, Stage 5 2006; 3rd, Stage 2, 2008); the GP Gerrie Knetemann (2nd, 2006); the Emakumeen Bira (2nd, Stage 2 2007) and the Tour of New Zealand (1st, Stage 1 2008).

Jeanne Golay
Jeanne Golay
Jeanne Golay, who was born in Florida on this day in 1962, won the US National Road Race Championship in 1992, 1995 and 1995. In 1988, she was ranked the best female US cyclist and won the first of two National Individual Time Trial titles a year later, with the second coming in 1992 and would also ride with the winning National Team Time Trial teams in 1990, 1991, 1992, also riding with the World Champion team in 1992; after which she received the US Cycling Federation Athlete of the Year award.

Golay returned to the top of the US rankings in 1994 when she won the Redlands Bicycle Classic, Dole Cycling Classic, Electricity City Challenge, Tour of Somervilleand Korbel Champagne Cup Series (and a bronze medal at the World Championships), and remained there in 1995 with victories at the PanAmerican Games, Sequoia Cycling Classic, National Road Championships, Frigidaire Cycling Classic, Colorado Cycling Classic and Fresca Cup. She retired in 1996 after winning the Valley of the Sun and the US National Criterium Championships. The long distance Jeanne Golay Trail, once known as the Red Mountain Trail, was re-named in her honour.

Phil O'Shea
(image believed to be copyright-expired)
Phil O'Shea
Phil O'Shea was born in New Zealand on this day in 1889 - his twin brother died at birth. As a child, O'Shea was prone to frequent bouts of quinsy, a disease now better known as peritonsillar abscess, which would cause his throat to swell and become so painful that he couldn't eat and had difficulty breathing. This seems to have stunted his growth - at 17 and although his father was a large man more than 183cm in height, he stood just 167cm tall and weighed less than 54kg.

However, he took up cycling when he was 19 and found it suited him very well - two years later, he had increased his muscle mass so much that he weighed in at almost 71kg and he went on to dominate the cycling scene in New Zealand and Autralia between 1911 and 1923. In the early days, be made up for brawn with sheer determination and a canny ability to read his opponents: when he started the Timaru to Christchurch race in 1909, he was given a 45 minute head start over the rest of the field and yet nobody expected him to finish. What they didn't know was that the young rider had spent much of the time when his childhood illness confined him to bed poring over the sports newspapers and had created an indexed record of races, which over time instilled him with an expert understanding of race tactics that would be the envy of any modern directeur sportif. He didn't just finish the race - he won, despite having to ride with a buckled rear wheel after another entrant rode into his bike while he was stopped at a drinks station enjoying a glass of milk.

The start of the 1911 Christchurch-Timaru
(image believed to be copyright-expired)
Two years later, the race became Christchurch to Timaru because the organisers felt that the people of Timaru had been such good hosts of the start in years gone by that they deserved the opportunity to see the finish. O'Shea was there once again, but during the race a dog ran into the road and got between his wheels, sending him flying. He landed heavily on his head and was covered in cuts and bruises. Yet he got back on his bike and won the race - bleeding all the way.

O'Shea remained a household name for a long time after his career came to an end and by the end of the 1960s there was talk of him becoming recognised as New Zealand's greatest ever athlete. Even today, a century after his peak, he remains well-known in his home country.

Marc Madiot, born in Renazé on this day in 1959, is best known as the winner of Paris-Roubaix in 1985 and 1991 but his palmares contains many other victories beginning with the 1977 National Championships and the 1979 Under-23 Paris-Roubaix. In 1980, he won the National Championships in the Elite class, then a year later he won the Tour du Limousin and in 1982 the National Cyclo Cross Championships. 1984 brought him the Trophée des Grimpeurs and Stages 2 and 3 at the Tour de France and in 1987 he won another National Road Race Championship, the Tour de l'Avenir and 3rd place at the Giro di Lombardia. He took a second Trophée des Grimpeurs in 1992 and wins in numerous races before retirement the following year.

Heiko Salzwedel
Heiko Salzwedel was born in Schmalkalden, East Germany, on this day in 1957 who, having emigrated to Australia in 1990, set up the Australian Institute of Sport' road cycling and mountain bike programmes. Matt White, Kathy Watt, Henk Vogel and Cadel Evans are just a few of the world-class cyclists to have been produced by by the programme.

In 2001, he became Performance manager at the British Cycling Federation, then moved on to become a consultant to the Danish Federation in 2003 where he worked with organisations including SRM and what was then known as T-Mobile, later to become HTC-Highroad. As head of the T-Mobile Development Program, he was instrumental in shaping the early careers of Stefan Denifl, Geraint Thomas and Mark Cavendish. In 2008, Salwedel returned to British Cycling where he was once again employed as Performance Manager.

Romain Feillu
(image credit: Thomas Ducroquet CC BY-SA 3.0)
Romain Feillu, born in Châteaudun on this day in 1984, signed up to Aritubel as a stagiaire in 2005 and then impressed his team mates, managers and the cycling world by winning the Tour de la Somme and GP Tours in his first full year, then the Circuit de l'Aulne, Paris–Bourges, Stage 3 at the Tour de Luxembourg and the overall General Classification at the Tour of Britain in his second. In 2008, he won the Youth category for Stage 4 at the Tour de France, leaving no doubt that he was destined to be one of the shining lights of the coming generation - which he confirmed by winning the Points competitions at the Tour de Picardie in 2009 and the Tour de Burgos in 2010, followed by the General Classification at the Tour de Picardiethree stages at the Tour Méditerranéen, one at the Tour of Luxembourg and 2nd place for Stage 3 at the Tour de France in 2011. 2012 and 2013 brought some good results - second at the GP Pino Cerami, fourth at Scheldeprijs, sixth at Cholet-Pays de Loire in 2012, second again at the Pino Cerami, ninth at Scheldeprijs by his birthday in 2013 - but no victories. He is the older brother of Brice Feillu, also a professional cyclist.

Other cyclists born on this day: Kathrin Freitag (Germany, 1974); Alan Geldard (Great Britain, 1927); Valery Khitrov (USSR, 1941); Ndjibu N'Golomingi (Congo, 1964); Hermann Martens (Germany, 1877, died 1916); Maurice Coomarawel (Sri Lanka, 1940, died 2008); Jānis Līvens (Russia, 1884); Paula Westher (Sweden, 1965); Raj Kumar Mehra (India, 1918, died 2001); Nils Johansson (Sweden, 1920, died 1999); René Deceja (Uruguay, 1934, died 2007); Davoud Akhlagi (Iran, 1944); Alipi Kostadinov (Czechoslovakia, 1955); David Gillow (Zimbabwe, 1958); Magne Orre (Norway, 1950).

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 15.04.2014

Emile Bouhours
Paris-Roubaix was held on this date in 1900, 1973, 2001 and 2007. Emile Bouhours won with an average speed of 37.352kph in 1900, extraordinarily fast for the time but far short of the record he set at the 24 Hours of Paris six years later when he covered 1312km in - as one might suspect - 24 hours, an average speed of 54.667kmh. On the 10th of November 1905, he covered the 100km between Orleans and Vierzon at an average speed of 61.291kph. The start was moved to Saint-Germain in 1900, but went back to Porte Maillot the next.

1973 brought a third and final win for Eddy Merckx, who had been victorious in 1968 and 1970, when he beat 2nd place Walter Godefroot by 2'20". Three new cobbled sections came into use - the 1.8km Viesly (rue de la chapelle) to Quievy, the 3.7km Quievy to Saint Python and the 1.5km Saint-Python. The latter part of Quievy to Saint Python features a tight right bend followed by a 2km climb which, though gentle, is said by riders to be one of the most draining parts of the race.

Servais Knaven
(image credit: Ralf Seger CC BY-SA 3.0)
Servais Knaven scored the first of his two wins in 2001, closely followed by his team mates Johan Museeuw and Romāns Vainšteins. Two new cobbled sections were used, the first being the 1.6km stretch from Maing to Monchaux sur Ecaillon and the second the 2.5km Wallers Haveluy, often the muddiest part of the race and which on the 28th of March 2005 was renamed "Bernard Hinault" after the great Breton rider who won Paris-Roubaix once and the Tour de France five times. Philippe Gaumont suffered a bad crash on the Trouée d'Arenberg and had to have a 40mm section fitted to his shattered femur with a 12mm screw, then spent six weeks in bed recovering. He later described the experience: "What I went through, only I will ever know. My knee cap completely turned to the right, a ball of blood forming on my leg and the bone that broke, without being able to move my body. And the pain, a pain that I wouldn't wish on anyone... Breaking a femur is always serious in itself but an open break in an athlete of high level going flat out, that tears the muscles. At 180 beats [heart rate], there was a colossal amount of blood being pumped, which meant my leg was full of blood..."

In 2007, Stuart O'Grady became the first Australian to win the race when he beat Juan Antonio Flecha by 52". The conditions that year were unusually warm with 27.9C recorded at Lille, leading to a great deal of dust along the route. Beuvry-la-Forêt to Orchies, a brand new 1.4km cobbled section created using traditional techniques and materials, was used for the first time and dedicated to Marc Madiot. The second half of the 1.2km cobbled section from Auchy-lez-Orchies to Bersee was left out for the first time since 1980 due to deterioration, and wasn't used again until it had been repaired in time for 2009.

La Flèche Wallonne, another Classic (though not, like Paris-Roubaix, a Monument) has also been held on this day - in 1976, 1982, 1987, 1992 and 1998. 1976 was the 40th edition and, for third year running, the race both started and finished at Verviers, covering 227km in total. The winner was Joop Zoetemelk - the first and to date the only Dutch winner. The 46th edition in 1982 started at Charleroi and ended at Spa, covering 251km, and it was won by Mario Becca. The 51st edition in 1987 started in Huy and travelled 245km to Spa, with Jean-Claude Leclercq bringing the French their seventh victory in this race. In 1992 the 56th edition reversed the start and finish towns, starting in Spa and ending in Huy, but the route was changed considerably and ended up 38km shorter than 1987 at 207km. Winner Giorgio Furlan also won the Giro di Toscana and the Tour de Suisse that year. The last time the race fell on this day was in 1998, the 62nd edition, and it started in Charleroi and ended in Huy just as every edition since then has done. It was 201km long, about average by modern standards, and the winner was Bo Hamburger who moved his native Denmark into joint third place (with Switzerland and Spain) among the most successful Flèche Wallonne nations.

In 1998, the men's race was joined for the first time by a women's event - La Flèche Wallonne Féminine - which was won by the Italian Fabiana Luperini. She won again in 2001 and 2002, thus equalling the men's record for multiple wins; but she's better known as the winner of a record five editions of the Giro Donne - since the demise of the Tour de France Feminin, women's cycling's most prestigious event.

Frank Schleck
Frank Schleck
(image credit: Noel Reynolds CC BY 2.0)
Born on this this day in Lëtzebuerg, the capital city of the tiny and extremely wealthy Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Frank Schleck is the son of Johny Schleck who rode several Grand Tours between 1965 and 1974. Frank began his competitive cycling career with the Luxembourgian Army before relocating to join the Italy-based Slovakian team De Nardi-Pasta Montegrappa. He was with them for under a year (in which he came 3rd in the National Road Race and Time Trial Championship) before signing a stagiaire contract with the ill-fated Festina, then moved on to Bjarne Riis' CSC-Tiscali when Festina folded at the end of 2001 after being put in contact with them by Marcel Gilles who, as coach of the ACC Contern amateur/youth team, was a trusted supplier of talent to both Festina and CSC.

Schleck earned his first full professional contract a year later when Riis declined to take on Jan Ullrich after the German rider had been banned after a drink driving conviction and an anti-doping test that proved positive for amphetamines. He rode his first Grand Tour, the Vuelta a Espana, that year; but abandoned after Stage 7 with a best result of 37th in Stage 4 but later finished 3rd for Stage 4 at the Giro della Provincia di Lucca. In 2004, he was 2nd in the National Road Race Championship and added podium finishes at the Critérium International and the Tour de Suisse, beginning to show signs of what was to come.

His big breakthrough came in 2005, the year getting off to a promising start when he was 2nd in the General Classification at the Tour Méditerranéen before he rode in the Giro d'Italia for the first time and came 5th for Stage 16. He then won the National Championship and, late in the season, scored five podium finishes including 3rd at the Luxembourgian Gala Tour de France, 2nd at the Giro dell'Emilia and, best of all, 3rd at the Giro di Lombardia. His results through the year had been sufficient to move him up to 13th in the world on the UCI ProTour rankings and won him a three-year contract with CSC, one of only three riders in the team to whom such a deal was offered.

Frank's early career sometimes suggested he
was destined to become a time trial specialist,
but he made his name in the mountains
(image credit: Elyob CC BY-SA 2.0)
2006 started in a similarly promising manner when he was 5th over in the Paris-Nice stage race. His Vuelta al País Vasco was ended by a crash in which he sustained concussion, but less than a month later he won the greatest victory he'd yet had with an overall win at the Amstel Gold Race. Later that year, he rode his first Tour de France and won Stage 15. For a rider to win a stage at his first Tour is remarkable; that Schleck won on the Alpe d'Huez - one of the most difficult and prestigious climbs in cycling - was sensational. The time he took to get up the mountain, 40'46", was the slowest since 1994; however, the lightning-fast times recorded between the mid-1990s and the first five years of the 21st century are considered by many to be a result of EPO. Pantani, Riis, Ullrich, Landis, Virenque, Klöden, Mayo, Indurain and Zülle, each of whom recorded better times in the twelve years since 1994 all subequently received suspensions for doping, confessed to doping or are strongly suspected to have doped. Azevedo is the only one whose name seems to be in the clear. Lance Armstrong, who set the second fastest time ever in 2004, has famously never been found to have doped and should be given the right of being assumed innocent unless prove guilty - and anyway, Armstrong is not as other men; what he achieved can be set apart. That year, Schleck was 11th in the overall General Classification.

His 2007 Tour didn't go quite so well, but 17th overall is a result with which the vast majority of professional cyclists would consider themselves fortunate. Earlier in the year, he'd managed 3rd at Liège-Bastogne-Liège despite a fractured vertebrae sustained in a crash at the Amstel Gold and had won Stage 3 at the Tour de Suisse. One year later, at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, he was joined by his younger brother Andy. The two men worked closely as a team, not so much beating their opponents on the climbs but refusing permission for anyone other than Davide Rebellin and Alejandro Valverde to even challenge them. As the end approached Andy, still only 22, couldn't keep up the pace; gradually falling back but with enough of an advantage over the peloton to take 4th place. Frank would be beaten into 3rd in a final sprint, but the brothers' efforts were both spectacular and portentous. That same year, Frank won another National Championship a week after an accident at the Tour de Suisse catapulted him over the edge of a ravine and he miraculously escaped injury and he rode his best Tour de France yet, coming 6th overall and 3rd in the King of the Mountains. After the first mountains in Stage 9, he had been 2nd in the leadership, just one second down on Cadel Evans. Then, in Stage 14, he took the yellow jersey and held onto it for two days.

Frank and Andy at the Tour de France, 2009
(image credit: Oneofthose CC BY-SA 3.0)
In 2009, he crashed again in the Amstel Gold and suffered another concussion, but went on to become the first Luxembourgian rider to win the Tour of Luxembourg in 15 years and won the mountainous Stage 17 at the Tour de France, crossing the line just ahead of Andy and Alberto Contador - another omen of things to come. The following year, the Tour paid tribute to the tough cobbled Classics of Flanders and the notorious, dangerous Paris-Roubaix by beginning on the harsh roads used by those venerated races; a feature that caused many riders to go home early - Frank included, after he broke a collar bone in a crash during Stage 3. On the 29th of June, the brothers announced that they would be leaving CSC - which by this time had become Saxobank - at the end of the season. Rumours began to circulate that they would be the star riders of a new Luxembourg-based team, but little was known about it. In October, details began to emerge via a website belonging to Leopard True Racing, leading to speculation that this would be the new team's name.

On the 6th of January in 2011, at an extravagant ceremony, Leopard Trek was presented to the world. The team's roster was centred on the Schlecks with Andy, who had placed 2nd overall at the Tour for the previous two years, being the main focus. With them were some of the finest names in racing, the cream of the crop plucked from right across Europe, indication that the team had an enormous budget. Among them were the legendary Fabian Cancellara, then the most devastatingly effective time trial rider in the world; Jakob Fuglsang who, despite his youth, was achieving superb results and leaving nobody in any doubt that he was destined to become a serious talent; Daniele Bennati who had won stages at many of Europe's most prestigious races, including twelve at the Grand Tours; and the veteran Jens Voigt who, at the age of 38, remained one of the fastest riders in the peloton and a man who was capable of launching repeated, savage attacks on any rider with a chance of challenging his team leaders. Frank's results that year were superb, with overall victory in the Critérium International, a third National Championship, two podium finishes during the Tour de France with 3rd overall (behind Cadel Evans in 1st and Andy in 2nd places) and 5th in the King of the Mountains. At the end of the season, rumours began to circulate that Leopard Trek was to merge with Johan Bruyneel's Radioshack. The rumours were later confirmed:  Frank would ride with Andy in the new team in 2012.

Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes
(image credit: HonkBonkMan)
In the summer of 2008, two days before the end of the Tour de France, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung published a story containing an allegation that Schleck had contacts with Eufemiano Fuentes, a Spanish doctor who had been investigated by Spanish police after suspicions that he had supplied doping products and illegal operations to athletes - the case that blew up into Operación Puerto. During the Tour de France that year, Johny Schleck's car had been impounded by French police and subjected to an extremely detailed search, apparently some way beyond the routine searches that many official vehicles at the Tour will undergo, which may be seen as evidence that Frank was indeed under suspicion. However, the newspaper was at that time unable to produce proof that the link existed.

Two months later, just before the World Championships (which might be seen as a suggestion that the newspaper was using sensationalism to boost sales), Süddeutsche Zeitung published a second article on Schleck, this time saying that it had been permitted access to proof that the rider had paid €7000 into a Swiss account owned by Fuentes. The rider chose not to deny the claim, which proved to be a wise course of action because German police then produced confirmation, and on the 3rd of October he admitted that he had in fact made the payment but insisted that he had not doped and that the payment had been in return for training services, a feasible explanation since the doctor was a highly respected expert in sports science prior to Puerto and Operación Galgo in 2010. He was then suspended by Saxobank pending investigation. It took Luxembourgian authorities the uncharacteristically short time of just two months to clear the rider of all allegations, freeing him to return to competition at the start of the next season.

Then on the 17th of July 2012, RadioShack-Nissan announced that it was pulling Frank from the squad at the Tour de France - a test, with the result confirmed by testing his B-sample, had discovered xipamide, a diuretic that can be used to mask the presence of performance-enhancing drugs and which athletes are banned from using as a result. He was suspended from the team and, following an investigation, banned initially for two years, though this was reduced to one year when no evidence could be found to suggest that he had intentionally taken the drug. He is racing with Trek, the team that bought RadioShack-Nissan's licence, in 2014.

Sean Eadie
Sean Eadie's beard is the reason for his
nickname: Captain Haddock
(image credit: Nicola CC BY-SA 3.0)
Australian track star Sean Eadie was born in Sydney on this day in 1969 and, prior to signing his first professional cycling contract, was a kindergarten teacher and holds a Diploma of Teaching from the Australian Catholic University. In addition to his palmares, which includes several National and World titles, Eadie is known for his large beard and sense of humour: when asked by a journalist why he shaved his legs but not his beard, he pointed out that the beard had not affected his aerodynamics so much as to prevent his World Sprint title and claimed that the real reason he shaved his legs was because "it feels great in bed."

Eadie has twice been involved in anti-doping investigations, both in 2004. The first came when in June when he was once of the four cyclists accused by team mate of being co-owners of several phials of an equine growth hormone and medical equipment, including used syringes, discovered in a boarding room at the Australian Institute of Sport and of regularly using the room to inject drugs; the accusation being made by the room's occupant Mark French. All the men French accused were subsequently cleared (though one, Jobie Dajka, would be found guilty of lying when giving evidence and received a ban that led to his downfall and untimely death), as would French after an appeal during which the prosecution failed to provide evidence that French had ever doped or owned the phials and equipment. The second came months later when customs officials intercepted a parcel containing a human growth hormone. He denied all knowledge of the parcel, which had been sent from San Diego in California, and provided banking records to prove he hadn't paid for the drugs. The Court for Arbitration in Sport found in his favour and cleared him of all charges. Eadie never failed an anti-doping test during his 12 year career.

Anita Zenani was born in Khayelitsha - a partially informal South African township where some 70% of residents live in shacks and 33% at least 200m from the nearest drinkable water - on this day in 1998. She began riding BMX in 2009 and just two years later was invited to take part in the UCI World Championships in Denmark on the 27th of July, 2011. Zenani plans to one day become a lawyer and in the coming years, she hopes to combine a professional BMX contract with her studies.

Latvian Gatis Smukulis, who was born on this day in Valka, won his National Road Race and Time Trial Championships as an Under-23 in 2006, then won the U-23 TT for a second time two years later and the Elite title in 2011. In 2010, he also won the U-23 category at the Tour of Flanders and then in 2011 Stage 1 at the Volta a Catalunya - suggesting that as he enters his best years, he is likely to become a very successful rider.

Federico Gay
Federico Gay, who was born on the 16th of July 1896, was an Italian cyclist who came 11th in the 1922 Tour de France (and won Stage 14) and 10th in 1925. He won Stages 2, 3, 5 and 6th at the 1924 Giro d'Italia and was 2nd in the overall General Classification. He died in Turin, the city of his birth, on this day in 1989.

Gabriel Sella, born in Cavarzere on this day in 1963, was an Italian track cyclist who specialised in Sprint and Tandem. During his career, he won six National titles and competed in the Olympics but never turned professional. After retiring from competition, he was employed by the Centro di Avviamento al Ciclismo, an organisation based in Padua that promotes cycling both as a sport and as a means of transport. He died aged 47 on the 2nd of June 2010 after losing control of his Kawasaki ZX-R motorbike (also known as a Kawasaki Ninja) and crashed into the wall of a house. Police believe he was speeding at the time.

Other births: Martin Pedersen (Denmark, 1983); Alain Ayissi (Cameroon, 1962); Reidar Raaen (Norway, 1897, died 1964); Rogelio Salcedo (Chile, 1925, died 1955); Jan Henriksen (Norway, 1946); Miklós Németh (Hungary, 1910); Harald Bundli (Norway, 1953); Werner Otto (East Germany, 1948); Roberto Roxas (Philippines, 1946); Hyeon Byeong-Cheol (South Korea, 1974).

Monday, 14 April 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 14.04.2014

Paris-Roubaix winner (1985 and 1991)
later became directeur sportif at FDJ
(image credit: Julius Kusuma CC BY-SA 3.0
Paris-Roubaix was held on this day in 1985, 1991, 1996 and 2002. Curiously, 1985 and 1991 were won by Marc Madiot and 1996 and 2002 by Johan Museeuw. Francesco Moser was a favourite in 1985 and, had he won, would have been the second man to achieve four wins (the first - and to date, only - being Roger De Vlaeminck in 1977) as well as having become the second man to win in three consecutive years as he had been in 1980; but he crashed in a pothole among the cobbles, his support crew taking so long to reach him that he lost all hopes of victory. Madiot then joined an eight-man break some 15km from the finish before out-sprinting them, entering the velodrome alone to win by 1'57". In 1991, he won by 1'07".

After the 1985 race, Dutchman Theo de Rooij spoke to reporters. "It's bollocks, this race," he told them. "You're working like an animal, you don't have time to piss, you wet your pants. You're riding in mud like this, you're slipping ... it’s a pile of shit!" One of the reporters asked rhetorically if he would be entering again. De Rooij looked at him for a moment, then replied: "Sure. It's the most most beautiful race in the world." That year, the 1.9km Vertain to Saint-Martin-sur-Écaillon cobbles were used for the first time.

Johan Museeuw
(public domain image)
1996, the year Museeuw won the first of his three victories, saw the first use of the 2.5km Quérénaing to Maing cobbled section, which has been a feature of every Paris-Roubaix since. It was also the first year that the newly-laid Espace Charles Crupelandt - a 300m length of cobbles leading to the velodrome and named after the 1914 winner, who would recieve an unfair lifetime ban and die blind with both legs amputated - was used, having been created to commemorate the centenary of the race. The cobbles are interspersed with inscribed stones detailing all the winner of the first hundred years, which had to the section becoming known locally as the Chemin des Géants, the Road of Giants.

2002 brought Museeuw's third and final victory (he's won in 2000, too). The weather that year was band with heavy rain and strong wind, but Museeuw found reserves of strength when his opponents had been ground down; attacking the peloton with 40km still to go and crossing the finish line with an advantage of more than three minutes. For the first time that year, an extra 0.5km was added to the Templeuve - Le Moulin de Vertain cobbles and would become known as Templeuve - Le Moulin de Vertain Pt. 2, making the section 0.7km in total. The first 0.2km had been in use since 1992, the final 0.5km being discovered completely buried at about the same point. It was dug out by Les Amis de Paris–Roubaix - an organisation fans dedicated to finding new cobbled sections and maintaining them in a usuable state - to mark the one hundredth edition of the race.

Rik van Steenbergen
The Ronde van Vlaanderen has also been held on this date, in 1935 and 1946. The 1935 edition was won by Louis Duerloo who collected a newly-increased prize of 2,500 francs - the total prize fund having been upped to 12,500 francs to reflect the growing popularity of the event which, two years later, would attract half a million spectators.

In 1946, victory went to Rik van Steenbergen who had become the youngest man to ever win this race two years previously. It became apparent early in the race that van Steenbergen was going to win - as soon as the riders set off, it was obvious to all that not only was he on perfect form, he was having the sort of day that all cyclists dream about in which his body worked in perfect unison with his machine. He remembered years later that it had been the best ride of his life: "I could do whatever I liked, ride better than anyone. In the end I was with Briek Schotte and Enkel Thiétard. They were happy just to follow me. We made an agreement. I said that they could stay with me until we got to Kwatrecht. I wouldn't drop them provided they'd do their best to work with me. They were happy with that. They didn't have a choice. Under the bridge at Kwatrecht I just got rid of them."

La Flèche Wallonne has fallen on this date, too - the 47th edition in 1983, the 57th in 1993 and the 63rd in 1999. 1983 brought a second win for The Badger Bernard Hinault, the same year that he won his second Vuelta a Espana. The race began at Charleroi and ended at Huy, as it has done every year since 1998, and covered 248km. In 1993 it ran 206km from Spa to Huy and was won by Maurizio Fondriest who would also win Milan-San Remo and a second World Championship that year. In 1999, it started in Charleroi and ended in Huy for a second year and covered 200km, won by Michele Bartoli who would win three of the five Monuments during his career.

1999 also saw the second edition of La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, held on the same date as the men's race but on a shorter course. The winner was Hanka Kupfernagel, and for the first time the race became part of the UCI Women's Road World Cup.

The Union Cycliste Internationale, known (and not necessarily loved) by cyclists worldwide as the UCI, came into being in Paris on this day in 1900, with the intention of creating a new international governing body in opposition of the British-controlled International Cycling Association after a heated row over whether Great Britain should be permitted one team at the World Championships rather than four to represent England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The ICA had existed since 1892 but, with France, Italy, the USA, Switzerland and Belgium all opting for UCI membership, it was quickly superceded. Britain was barred from membership until 1903, by which time the organisation had completely replaced its predecessor.

The UCI controlled cycling as a single entity until 1965 when, pressured by the International Olympic Committee, it split into three branches - the Fédération Internationale Amateur de Cyclisme (FIAC) in Rome,  the Fédération Internationale de Cyclisme Professionnel (FICP) in Luxembourg and the UCI (now based in Geneva) acting as a central authority. As Eastern Bloc cyclists were almost invariably amateur at the time, in effect the FIAC became almost a separate organisation devoted to developing the sport beyond the Iron Curtain and grew to be far larger than the FICP with some 127 federations under its aegis. FIAC riders rarely competed with FICP riders, despite the best Eastern Bloc amateurs being esaily the equal of Western professionals; as would prove to be the case following Perestroika when East European and ex-Soviet cyclists were freed to seek professional contracts and made a massive impact on the European racing scene. In 1992, the two subsidiary bodies were reabsorbed into the UCI as it relocated to Aigle, also in Switzerland, where it is still based.

Emile De Beukelaer, first president
of the UCI
The organisation has had ten presidents during its history, all men. The first, serving between 1900 and 1922,  was Emile De Beukelaer, who had been one of Belgium's most successful cyclists during the 1880s and attended the formation of the UCI as the representative for the Ligue Velocipédique Belge Belgian federation. The second, Frenchman Léon Breton, served from 1922 to 1936, the third was the Swiss Max Burgi between 1936 and 1939.

The position was then taken by Alban Collignon, another Belgian,  between 1939 and 1947, followed by Frenchman Achille Joinard who came close to losing his position in 1955 when he was accused of having personally received five million francs in return for ensuring the World Championships would be held in France rather than in Italy. Joinard was largely responsible for the popularisation of the Peace Race, an event that took place in East Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia during the Cold War and which he termed "the Tour de France of the East." It was also Joinard who coined the term "la bicyclette est la fille de Bretagne" - "the bicycle is the daughter of Brittany" - to reflect the enormous love the Bretons still hold for the sport.

His replacement was Adriano Rodoni, the first Italian to serve, who held the position between 1958 and 1981 - Rodoni too courted controversy in 1964 when he prevented the Italian cyclist Giovanni Pettenella from having to undergo an anti-doping test ordered by the IOC at the 1964 Olympics. The Spaniard Luis Puig took over from 1981 to 1990 who, unusually, had not been a professional cyclist himself; becoming a cycling coach after an athletic career in baseball, swimming and hockey.

Hein Verbruggen
(image credit: SpeakLouder)
Puig's replacement was Hein Verbruggen, whose background offered a sign of the times - never an athelete, his career had been in business management before an interest in cycling led to the presidency of the Dutch Federation, then to the UCI. In 2008, investigative journalists from the BBC uncovered documents apparently showing that under Verbruggen, the UCI had received payments equal to approximately US$5 million from Japanese race organisers, which the broadcaster claimed was a bribe or reward for backing the inclusion of keirin in the Olympics. Verbruggen continues to deny the claims, and the UCI ignored the BBC's requests for an explanation. In 2010, Floyd Landis - then undergoing a doping investigation - claimed that Verbruggen had  accepted a bribe worth US$100,000 from Lance Armstrong to submerge a failed anti-doping test said to have occurred in 2002, also saying that there would be no documentary evidence of the payment. However, the UCI - by then under Verbruggen's successor Pat McQuaid - was able to produce documents showing that they had in fact received two payments, one to the tune of US$25,000 from Armstrong personally which was used to develop new anti-doping controls for junior races and one of US$100,000 paid by Armstrong's management company that had been used to purchase a Sysmex blood testing machine. That the UCI was so open in admitting that it had in fact received the payment Landis alleged, provided evidence proving it had and then also proved a second payment that had not been previously been mentioned in the case is considered by most to be indication that nothing dishonest had taken place; though McQuaid is on record as stating that in his opinion Verbruggen's decision to accept the payments was a mistake.

Pat McQuaid took over when Verbruggen retired in 2005 and held the position until 2013. He, his father, his two brothers, one cousin, one uncle have all been professional cyclists. His career was not without controversy as he and Sean Kelly broke the boycott on athletes competing in apartheid-era South Africa. After retiring from racing, McQuaid worked as a teacher before becoming director of the Irish National Team from 1983 to 1986 and then president from 1996 to 1999. In between, he served as director of a number of major races including the Tours of China and Langkawi and afterwards served as chairman of the UCI's road racing commission. Compared to that of his predecessor, McQuaid's presidency was relatively free of controversy, though he has come under increasing attack for his attitude towards women's cycling which many athletes (male and female), managers and fans believe he doesn't take as seriously as the sport deserves; especially since the 2011 World Championships when he said that in his opinion, women's racing is insufficiently developed for athletes to deserve a guaranteed minimum wage (as their male counterparts get) nor equal prize money to that on offer in men's races.

Brian Cookson
McQuaid's successor is Brian Cookson, previously the president of British Cycling. Cookson made two points central to his election campaign - clarity and women's cycling. Among his first actions were dropping the UCI's defamation case against the journalist Paul Kimmage, which related to accusations Kimmage had made in L'Equipe and the Sunday Times and which dated back to Verbruggen's presidency, and the appointment of the Union's first female vice-president, Tracey Gaudry in addition to starting a women's cycling committee that is looking at ways to develop and promote the sport. In general, his tenure so far has been met with approval.

Russell Williams, who was born in London on this day in 1961, won the British Junior Road Race Championship in 1978 and added a number of track titles before retiring from competition in 1999. Today, he is better known a a cycling commentator on the British Eurosport television channel.

On this day in 1931, the first edition of the British Highway Code was published and went on sale at one old penny (1d) - equivalent to less than one half of a modern penny (1p). The Code, then as now, outlined the rules of the road for drivers, motorcyclists, those in control of animals and cyclists.

Francesco de Bonis, born in Isola del Liri on this day in 1982, won the GP Folignano and Trofeo Internazionale Bastianelli in 2007, then Stage 4 and the overall Mountains Classification at the Tour de Romandie one year later. In 2010, the UCI announced that it had discovered discrepancies in the tests recorded on his biological passport and requested that his National Federation ban him from competition for two years - the ban was subsequently put into place and began on the 27th of May that year.

British rider Ian Wilkinson, who was born in Barnoldswick on this day in 1979, won the National Under-23 Mountain Bike Championship in 2000 and the National MTB Marathon at Elite level in 2008. He also competes in cyclo cross, track and road racing and has achieved good results in all three disciplines.

Roger Rammer was born in Vienna on this day in 1890 and took part in the Olympics of 1912. He rode in the Team Trial event, where the Austrians came 7th, and in the Individual Time Trial where he was 23rd. Like many cyclists, Rammer disappeared after his time in the spotlight came to an end and it's not known what he did for the rest of his life nor when and where he died.

Martín Emilio Rodríguez
Martín Emilio Rodríguez, born in Medellín on this day in 1942, is one of the most successful Colombian cyclists of all time. Nicknamed Cochise, after his Apache chief hero, he entered the Vuelta a Colombia for the first time in 1961 and won it two years later - as he would again in 1965, 1966 and 1967. He also won the National Championship in 1965 and the 4km Pursuit at the 1962 Central American Games, 1965 Bolivarian Games, the 1966 and 1967 American Games and 1967 PanAmerican Games and set an unofficial Hour Record in 1970 before going on to compete in 1975 Tour de France, which he finished in 27th place.

Rodriguez teamed up with Felice Gimondi during the early 1970s and they won the Baracchi Trophy and  Verona Grand Prix together in 1973. After his Tour de France, he retired from professional racing but won a stage at the 1980 Vuelta a Colombia as an amateur. He maintained close links with cycling in retirement and is  currently employed by the UCI Continental team Gobernacion De Antioquia-Indeportes Antioquia.

Other births: Jeffrey Spencer (USA, 1951); Juraj Miklušica (Czechoslovakia, 1938); Ulises Váldez (Cuba, 1948); Robert Raymond (Belgium, 1930); Pierre Gouws (Zimbabwe, 1960); Geoff Kabush (Canada, 1977); Francesco Zucchetti (Italy, 1902, died 1980); Vilho Oskari Tilkanen (Finland, 1885, died 1945); Steven Maaranen (USA, 1947); Oleksandr Honchenkov (Ukraine, 1970).

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 13.04.2014

Rik van Steenbergen
(public domain image)
Paris-Roubaix was held on this date in 1952, 1958, 1969, 1975, 1980, 1986, 2003 and 2008. The 1952 winner was Rik van Steenbergen, who had also won in 1948 when he had won the Ruban Jaune, a prize established by Henri Desgrange to recognise the rider who set the fastest average time in a race more than 200km long during any one year (he chose yellow for the same reason the leader's jersey in the Tour de France is yellow: his L'Auto newspaper was printed on yellow paper), with an average speed of 46.612km - a new record, which stood for another three years after his 1952 triumph.

The 1958 winner was Leon Vandaele. The race that year was notable for two reasons: firstly, it took the unusually long time of just over eight hours to be completed, and secondly because it finished in a 23-man sprint - the largest in Paris-Roubaix history. 1969 was won by Walter Godefroot who achieved the very rare distinction of beating Eddy Merckx, who was 2'39" behind as Godefroot crossed the line. 1975 brought the second of Roger de Vlaeminck's record four wins and he too beat Merckx into second place.

Carrefour de l'Arbre
(image credit:  John.john59 CC BY-SA 3.0) 
In 1980, the Italian Francesco Moser became the second man in the history of the race to win in three consecutive years. The full 1.7km  cobbled section between Orchies, Chemin des Prières, and Chemin des Abattoirs (a fitting name for a Paris-Roubaix cobbled section if ever there was one) was used for the first time that year, the final 0.7km having been ridden in the opposite direction since 1977. Four entirely new cobbled sections made their first appearances: the first was a 1.4km stretch of the Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes to Sars-et-Rosières, to which another 1km would be added two years later; the second was the 1.2km Auchy-lez-Orchies to Bersee; the third was the 1.8km Camphin-en-Pévèle with a right corner that is often covered in mud and considered one of the most dangerous along the parcours and a final 300m made up of some the roughest cobbles anywhere in the race; the fourth was the notorious 2.1km Camphin-en-Pévèle to Carrefour de l'Arbre, considered to be the most difficult and dangerous section after the Trouée d'Arenberg and the place where many subsequent editions have been won and lost.

Sean Kelly, who had become the only Irish rider to win the race two years earlier, won for a second time in 1986. The same year, he won Milan-San Remo and would do so again in 1991, and he won Liège–Bastogne–Liège the same year as his first Paris-Roubaix and again in 1989 and the Giro di Lombardia in 1983, 1985 and 1991 (plus the amateur version in 1976), making him the joint third most successful Classics rider of all time. For the first time, the finish was relocated to the Avenue des Nations-Unies outside the offices of the race's main sponsor, mail order company La Redoute; where it would remain until 1988.

Frans Bonduel in 1932
Peter Van Petegem won in 2003, a week after he'd won the Ronde van Vlaanderen which had been held on the 6th of April that year - and thus became one of only ten men to have won both races in a single year. Tom Boonen scored the second of his three wins in 2008 after beating Alessandro Ballan and Fabian Cancellara in a final sprint. For the first time in three years, Paris-Roubaix did not form part of the UCI ProTour series - instead, the UCI wanted to include it in a new Historical Calendar series (since absorbed into the WorldTour series), a proposal that was at first resisted by race organisers the Amaury Sports Organisation until they eventually conceded two weeks before the race was due to take place. The first 100km of the race were covered in two hours, one of the fastest intermediate average speeds every recorded in the race and the overall average of 43.406kph was the fastest since 1964.

The race is being held on this date again in 2014.

The Ronde van Vlaanderen fell on this day in 1930 when it was won by Frans Bonduel, the rider who went on to win Stage 17 and finish in 7th place overall at the Tour de France later that year. Bonduel enjoyed an unusually lengthy professional career that lasted for twenty years between 1928 and 1947. He died on the 25th of February in 1998 when he was 90 and there is a street in Baasrode, the town in which he was born, named after him.

In 1936, the first ever edition of La Flèche Wallonne was held on this day and covered a distance of 236km from Tournai to Liège. It was won by Philemon De Meersman (15.11.1914-02.04.2005), a Belgian rider who was professional for just three years up until the outbreak of the Second World War. The next time it was held on this date was in 1949, when started at Charleroi and stretched for 231km, once again to Liège. The winner was Rik Van Steenbergen, and he would win again nine years later. The race would not fall on this date again for four decades, the next time being 1988 when the 243km parcours between Spa and Huy was covered fastest by Rolf Gölz - a German rider who seems to be largely forgotten a quarter of a century later, despite having held amateur Worlds and professional Nationals titles as well as winning Stage 8 at the 1988 Tour de France and numerous other races. It has not been held on this date since.

Nicole Cooke
Nicole Cooke at La Flèche Wallonne, 2010
(image credit: Les Meloures CC BY-SA 3.0)
Nicole Denise Cooke, born in Swansea, South Wales in this day in 1983, is one of the most successful British cyclists of all time and, arguably, the most successful Welsh cyclist in history. Cooke began to cycle competitively with the amateur Cardiff Ajax CC - of which she is still a member - when she was 11, and was successful right from the start. He first major win was the National Road Race Championship, at Elite level, in 1999 - as she was 16 at the time, she is the youngest rider to have ever won the title. Two years later, she became the youngest woman to win the British Elite Cyclo Cross Championship. In that same year, she won the World Junior titles in mountain bike, time trial and road race - a unique achievement.

Cooke turned professional in 2002 and won a third National Road Race Championship, then added a Commonwealth Games gold medal. She was National Champion again in 2003 and won the World Road Cup and the Amstel Gold Race as well as the bronze medal at the World Championships, then in 2004 she won her fifth National title and the Giro Donne. A sixth National title came a year later, and a seventh in 2006 along with the General Classification at the Tour de France Féminine, then the greatest women's race in the world.

All in all, Cooke has won 10 National Championships, making her the second most successful rider in the event after the legendary Beryl Burton with 12 victories. She won the World Junior Road Race twice and the World Elite once, the Tour de France Féminine twice; with a total of 68 victories to her name to date. 2010 and early 2011 were not good for Cooke and poor results a she struggled to recover from an illness led to much of the British cycling press (that small part of it that takes notice of women's cycling, at any rate) to write her off, declaring that her career was over.

Fifth place at the Waalse Pijl, sixth at the GP Elsy Jacobs, second in the National Road Race Champions, first place on Stage 5 at the Giro Donne and fourth at the World Championships in Copenhagen (leaving her the best-placed British woman) in 2011 suggested the press had been wrong and more good results in 2012 - Stage 5 victory and eighth place overall at the Energiewacht Tour, which was emerging as one of the most popular and prestigious events in women's cycling, gave fans hope that Cooke was finding form once again.

However, early in 2013 she announced her immediate retirement. "I am very happy with my career. I have many happy memories over what's been a life's work," she said, then went on to launch a scathing attack on doping, revealing that she had been offered drugs when racing her first Tour de France: "I was invited into a team camper and asked what 'medicines' I would like to take to help me and was reminded that the team had certain expectations of me during the race and I was not living up to them. I said I would do my best until I had to drop out of the race, but I was not taking anything." She also attacked the injustice that women's cycling, although doping is far less prevalent in it, suffers enormously from doping in men's cycling: "Every scandal on the men's side has caused sponsors to leave on the women's side. With such thin budgets, the losses have a greater relative impact on what survives."

Olaf Ludwig
Olaf Ludwig was born in Gera - then East Germany - on this day in 1960. He began riding with the snappily-named SG Dynamo Gera/ Sportvereinigung (SV) Dynamo whilst still a teenager, riding on the winning teams in two World Junior Team Time Trial Championships in the late 1970s, and remained an amateur until 1990 when the Reunification allowed him to sign a professional contract with Panasonic. A sprinter of considerable repute who by this time had won numerous stages at the Tour de l'Avenir, an Olympic gold medal, several National Amateur Championship titles and a record 38 stages at the Peace Race, it came as no great surprie when he won Stage 8 and the overall Points competition of the Tour de France in his inaugural professional year.

Olaf Ludwig
(image credit: Etixer CC BY-SA 3.0)
Like many sprinters, Ludwig suffered badly on the climbs and as such was never a contender for the General Classification of the Grand Tours or many of the other stage races, but in a flat race with a straight finish he often seemed unbeatable - so much so that comparisons are frequently made between him and Mark Cavendish, whose technique closely resembles that of Ludwig.

In 1991, Ludwig was ranked 9th in the world by the UCI, won Stage 7 at the Tour de Suisse, Stages 2 and 5 at the Tour of Ireland and stood on the podium of the Tour de France six times, this time coming 3rd in the Points competition. In 1992, he won Stages 5 and 10 at the Tour de Suisse and the World Road Race Championship, the Four Days of Dunkirk, the Dwars door Vlaanderen and Stage 21 at the Tour de France, this time coming 4th on Points. In 1993, he won Stage 13 at the Tour but abandoned after the next stage; then a year later he won Stage 4 at the Tour of Britain as his career began to wind down, victories coming fewer and further between before his retirement in 1996.

In retirement Ludwig was employed by Telekom, the team with whom he spent his last four professional seasons, as a public relations agent. Later, when the team became T-Mobile, he would become a manager but ended his association with the organisation in 2006.

Tadej Valjavec
Tadej Valjavec
(image credit: McSmit CC BY-SA 3.0)
Tadej Valjavec, born in Kranj on this day in 1977, won the Slovenian National Road Race Championships in 2003 and 2007 and has achieved consistently good results in a variety of races including 4th at the 2003 Tour de Romandie and 7th at the 2009 Tour de Suisse. His Grand Tour results have also been good, with 17th, 19th and 10th overall at the Tour de France between 2006 and 2008 and 9th, 15th and 34th overall at the Giro d'Italia from 2004 to 2006 (including, in 2004, 2nd place on the Queen Stage 14) and 13th and 8th in 2008 and 2009.

On the 4th of May 2010, the UCI announced that Valjavec was among a number of riders under investigation for suspicious blood values - usually an indication that a rider has been found to have an unusually high red blood cell population, indication of either undetected EPO use or blood transfusions rather than a failed anti-doping test. He strongly denied that he'd cheated and continues to do so, claiming that an illness he'd failed to report to the testers was the cause of the suspicious results. The Slovenian Federation found in favour and declined to charge him, also criticising the UCI's use of biological passports (a system that aims to keep an accurate record of a rider's test history). The UCI, meanwhile, disagreed and referred the case for appeal at the Court for Arbitration in Sport which subsequently over-ruled the Slovenian decision, found him guilty and banned him on the 22nd of May 2011, effective as of the 20th of January 2011, and disqualified his results between the 19th April and 30th of September 2009 - including the 8th place finish at the 2009 Giro, his best ever Grand Tour result.

Alex Steida, born in Belleville, Ontario on this day in 1961, became the first North American cyclist to lead the General Classification of the Tour de France in Stage 2, 1986. He was also leading the Mountains, Points and Youth Classifications. Unfortunately, the remainder of the race did not go his way and he finished in 120th place overall, then never entered again.

Juan Carlos Domínguez, born in Íscar, Spain on this day in 1971, won the General Classification, Mountains Classification and Stage 5 at the Vuelta a Murcia in 1997 and numerous Spanish races until 2007. That year, he recorded an unusually high haematocrit level of greater than 50% - evidence of possible EPO use or illegal blood transfuion - at the 2007 Eneco Tour of the Benelux and was banned for fifteen days.

(Copyright unknown)
Dino Bruni, born in Portomaggiore on this day in 1932, won a silver medal at the Olympic Games of 1952 and competed again in 1956. He won Stages 4 and 16 at the 1959 Tour de France - but, due to much poorer results on other stages (especially the mountain stages) was 64th overall with only Louis Bisilliat finishing after him - and Stage 21 in 1962, also Stages 1 and 17 at the 1960 Giro d'Italia.

Fabrizio Guidi, who was born in Pontedera, Italy on this day in 1972, won the Points competition at the 1996 Giro d'Italia, then one stage in 1999 and 2000. He also won three stages in the 1998 Vuelta a Espana and the overall Tour de la Région Wallonne in 2006 before retiring in 2007 with more than 40 professional victories to his name.

Other cyclists born on this day: Ian McGregor (USA, 1983); Ángel Vicioso Arcos (Spain, 1977); Geneviève Robic-Brunet (Canada, 1959); Anton Joksch (Germany, 1900); Peter Clausen (Denmark, 1964); Klaus Kynde Nielsen (Denmark, 1966); Christoph Sauser (Switzerland, 1976); Yves Landry (Canada, 1947); Óscar Giraldo (Colombia, 1973); Igor Dzyuba (Uzbekistan, 1972); Roman Kononenko (Ukraine, 1981); Stephen McGlede (Australia, 1969); Ed McRae (Canada, 1953).

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 12.04.2014

Crupelandt in 1912
Paris-Roubaix was held on this date in 1914, 1925, 1936, 1953, 1959, 1970, 1981, 1987, 1992, 1998 and 2009. Charles Crupelandt won for the second time in 1914, having previously done so two years earlier, and thus became the last man to win before the race was suspended during the First World War, and the start was moved to Suresnes where it would remain until 1928. Crupelandt  was injured in the war but survived and was awarded the Croix de Guerre, one of France's greatest honours and a medal reserved for those who have demonstrated heroic courage in combat.

However, at some point after being demobilised - there is a lack of clarity concerning the dates which vary from 1914 to 1917 to three years after the war ended - he was charged with a crime and sentenced to two years in prison. In response, the Union Vélocipédique handed him a lifetime ban, almost certainly after being pressured into doing so by Crupelandt's rivals. He was able to continue racing under the aegis of another organisation and won the unofficial National Championships in 1922 and 1923, but it spelled the end of what had been a very promising career - one that Henri Desgrange once predicted would lead to victory in the Tour de France - and which led to the eventual destruction of his life and health. When he died in 1955 - at Roubaix - both his legs had been amputated and he was blind. To mark the centenary of the race  in 1996, the commune of Roubaix laid a 300m stretch of cobbles along the centre of the Avenue Alfred Motte on the final approach to the velodrome that hosts the finish line. Set among the cobbles are inscribed stones commemorating all of the winners int he first 100 years of the race, which has led to the section's unofficial name Chemin des Géants, Road of Giants. The official name is Espace Charles Crupelandt.

1925 winner Félix Sellier had won Stage 13 at the 1921 Tour de France after Henri Desgrange, who was angry that riders had refused to attack the eventual overall winner Léon Scieur and even more angry that as a first class cyclist he'd been assisted earlier in the race by riders in the second class, decided he'd punish the peloton by splitting two groups up and allowing the second class to set out two hours ahead of the first class. The first class, not wanting to be beaten by a bunch of amateurs, rode hard and fast to catch them up. They did catch most of them, but a few - including Sellier - stayed out in front and beat them to the finish line (the next year, Sellier was back as fully-sponsored professional. That time, he won Stage 14 and 3rd place in the General Classification entirely in his own merit, this proving that he didn't need a head start in order to win).

For a while in 1936, nobody was quite sure who had won. The Belgian rider Romain Maes was very clearly seen to be first over the finish line (which was located for the second and final time at the Flandres horse racing track), but the judges then declared Georges Speicher - who, completely coincidentally, happened to be French - the winner. The crowd were not impressed, with many of the French fans seemingly every bit as angry at the injustice as the Belgians. Things began to look ugly but, suddenly and for no obvious  reason, they settled down and accepted the result. The Belgians may have been cheated out of a win, but they were apparently content in the knowledge that their men had taken 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th place.

Germain Derycke turned professional in 1950 and, just a year later, took 2nd place at Liège–Bastogne–Liège - a sure sign of a Classics specialist if ever there was one. He won Paris-Roubaix in 1953 and would have taken 1st place at the World Championships that year too had it not been for Fausto Coppi, then at the height of his powers and near unbeatable. One year later he won La Flèche Wallonne and the Dwars door Vlaanderen, then added Milan-San Remo in 1955, 1st place at Liège–Bastogne–Liège in 1957 and the Ronde van Vlaandered in 1958. The Giro di Lombardia was the only Monument that remained out of his grasp.

Noël Foré won Paris-Roubaix in 1959, a year his victory in the Tour of Belgium and two years after he won the Dwars door Vlaanderen. Four years later, he added Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne and the Ronde van Vlaanderen to  palmares that totalled 53 professional wins. 1970 brought the second of Eddy Merckx's three Paris-Roubaix victories and his winning margin over Roger De Vlaeminck - 5'21" - remains the largest in the history of the race. De Vlaeminck got his revenge, however: seven years later he topped Eddy's three wins when he became the first and to date the only man to have won the race four times.

Even The Badger suffered at Paris-Roubaix
(public domain image)
1981 was the year that Bernard Hinault won his one and only Paris-Roubaix after an epic battle with De Vlaeminck's team mate Hennie Kuiper, who had defeated Hinault's attempted attack 8km from the finish. Kuiper was first into the velodrome, but when Hinault attacked one last time on the track he simply couldn't keep up and the Breton became the first French winner for a quarter of a century. After the race, Hinault told reporters: "Paris-Roubaix est une connerie!" - "Paris-Roubaix is bullshit!" He had crashed seven times, including once when a little black dog named Gruson ran out from the crowd and got between the Breton's wheels. Hinault, despite winning, was in a characteristically foul mood and, after returning the next year as defending champion when he came ninth, refused to have anything to do with the race from that point onwards. Gruson, by all accounts, was fine. That year also saw the first use of two cobbled sections, the 0.7km Mérignies to Pont à Marcq and the initial 1.1km of Cysoing to Bourghelles, an extra 0.3km being added to the latter section in 2006.

Eric Vanderaerden won in 1987, but sadly his victory did him few favours as, when taken into consideration alongside his earlier success in the other Classics and the Grand Tours, it served to confirm the belief among Belgian fans that he was destined to be the successor to their hero Eddy Merckx. Unfortunately, though an enormously talented cyclist, Vanderaerden was only a man; Merckx had seemed something greater. Knowing that he could never live up to their expectations, his career went into a decline in the following years and although his subsequent results were impressive (three editions of the Three Days of De Panne, a Tour of Ireland, the Dwars van Vlaanderen and Stage 17 at the 1992 Vuelta a Espana are pretty good by anyone's standards) it' generally agreed that he could have achieved much more. That year saw the first appearance of the 2.2km cobbled section from Troisvilles to Inchy, often one of the hardest sections as the road is frequently covered in mud that runs off the surrounding fields, despite the planting of a hedge in an attempt to keep it back. After the race, 1984 and 1986 winner Sean Kelly told the press: "A Paris–Roubaix without rain is not a true Paris–Roubaix. Throw in a little snow as well, it's not serious."

1992 brought the first of Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle's two wins - almost ten years after he'd formed a part of a breakaway that included Hennie Kuiper and Francesco Moser and which led to Kuiper's 1983 victory. Templeuve - Le Moulin de Vertain Pt 1 "Templeuve L", a 0.2km cobbled section was used for the first time and a 1.1km section from Bourghelles to Wannehain was added to the Cysoing to Bourghelles section that had first been used when Hinault won eleven years earlier, thus creating the Cysoing to Bourghelles to Wannehain stretch that, since the addition of an extra of cobbled leading to Bourghelles in 2006, is now cobbled for the full 2.5km length. Bourghelles to Wannehain had been discovered previously, but was not used in the race due to poor condition - however, it had been repaired using serviceable pavé taken from the old Péronne-en-Mélantois section that had featured in the race during the 1950s before falling into a state of irretrievable disrepair.

Franco Ballerini
(image credit: Eric Houdas CC BY-SA 3.0)
Franco Ballerini won for the second time in 1998. The race was marked by a horrific crash on the Trouée d'Arenberg in which Johan Museeuw shattered his knee. The injury later became gangrenous and he very nearly had to have his leg amputated, yet in time he made a full recovery and won the race two years later. Before retiring in 2004, Museeuw acted as mentor to Tom Boonen, who would go on to win Paris-Roubaix three times - his third win being on this date in 2009. That year, the 1.2km Auchy-lez-Orchies to Bersee cobbles were returned to use for the first time since 2006 following repair work. Chris Boardman, commentating for the Eurosport television channel, was asked live on air why he'd always refused to take part in Paris-Roubaix. "It's a circus," he replied, "and I don't want to be one of the clowns."

La Flèche Wallonne fell on this day in 1984, 1989, 1995 and 2000. 1984 was the 48th edition and it began at Charleroi and ended at Huy, as all editions have done 1998, covering 246km in between. The winner, Kim Andersen, was the first Dane to achieve victory in this event. 1989 was the 53rd edition, covering a 253km between Spa and Huy - the longest since 1947. It was won for a second time by Claude Criquielion, who had also won four years earlier. 1995 brought the 59th edition, which covered 205.5km between Spa and Huy - there has not been a longer parcours since. Laurent Jalabert won the first of his two victories, in the same year that he would win Paris-Nice and Milan-San Remo. The 64th edition, which took place in 2000, started in Charleroi and ended in Huy and covered 198km. The winner was the Italian Francesco Casagrande.

2000 also brought the third edition of La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, won that year by the Canadian rider Genevieve Jeanson. Jeanson's victory is probably undeserved - on the 25th of July 2005, she failed a test for EPO. Initially, she denied having ever doped and retired early in 2006 before being served a back-dated two-year suspension from the date of her failed test. In 2007, she admitted to a journalist that she had used the notorious blood-boosting drug "more or less continuously" since she was 16. As she was 19 when he won La Flèche, it seems likely that she did so with illegal chemical assistance.

Arsène Alancourt
English mountain biker Liam Killeen was born in Malvern on this day in 1982. His first major success was the Under-23 National Championship of 2002, which he repeated in 2004 before adding the Elite Championship in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. He won the Cross Country race at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and continues to win races at home, in Europe and in North America. In 2004, Killeen was Under-23 National Cyclo Cross Champion.

Arsène Alancourt, born in Clichy on this day in 1904, was a French professional cyclist who rode in the Tour de France in 1922, 1923 and 1924. He won Stage 13 in 1924, with help from a dog that ran under the wheels of Ottavia Bottechia who led the General Classification throughout the entirety of the race and caused him to crash, and finished in 7th place overall. He'd done better the previous year when he was 5th.

Christophe Moreau
Christophe Moreau, who was born in Vervins on this day in 1971, was a rider who spent much of his career with a very great weight upon his shoulders - he was France's greatest hope for a Tour de France win, which they had not had since Bernard Hinault's final victory in 1985.

Christophe Moreau
(image credit: Eric Houdas CC BY-SA 3.0) 
Beginning his career as a time trial specialist with Festina, Moreau was 2nd at the 1995 Tour de l'Avenir and won the prologue the following year before beginning to add stage wins in races such as the Route du Sud and 1st place overall at the 1999 Tour Poitou-Charentes. He rode his first Tour de France in 1995 and didn't finish, then managed a couple of finishes just outside the top ten in 1996 but was 75th overall. In 1997, he was 6th in Stage 20 and 66th overall, then 5th in the 1998 prologue but again didn't finish. In 1999 he was 4th in the prologue and 10th in Stage 2, this time finishing in 27th place overall,

In 2000, he managed 4th place overall and fans began to wonder if he was the man who would bring them the glory they hadn't felt for fifteen years. He won the prologue a year later and was in the top ten for Stages 10 and 11 but abandoned soon afterwards, then abandoned again in 2002 after disappointing results. 2003 saw a return to form and he was 8th overall, then 12th in 2004 and 11th in 2005. In 2006, he finished the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2nd place and won the Mountains Classification - a sure sign that a rider has the potential to win the Tour, as was confirmed that same year with 7th place.

Unfortunately, he was now 35 - beyond the age at which most cycling careers begin to trail off. He rode again in 2007 and was 37th, then again in 2008 and once more abandoned, again in 2009 and was 29th (in fact, a respectable result all things considered) and for a final time in 2010. That last year, when he was 39 years old, he was 22nd overall and 2nd in the King of the Mountains; leaving no doubt that, a decade before, he could  have won a Tour had it not have been for one unfortunate factor: his date of birth. He'd simply had the misfortune to have been born at a time that meant his best years coincided with those of Lance Armstrong. If they had come five years earlier or five years later, when Armstrong wasn't around and the other riders were not driving themselves beyond the limits in order to keep up, the French would in all likelihood have had the winner they've wanted for so long.

Moreau tested positive for anabolic steroids at the Critérium International. However, team manager Bruno Roussel supported him, telling the team's lawyers that the rider had been tricked into taking the drugs by a member of the support staff (a not-unknown occurrence, support staff having sometimes been paid by rival teams to "nobble" riders over the years). The court found in favor, and Moreau was not suspended - which would almost certainly have been the end of that story had in not have been 1998, the year that Festina soigneur was caught as he tried to cross the French-Belgian border in a car filled with enough drugs to open a small pharmacy. Investigators discovered a massive, organised doping regime in the team and began looking again at the history of Festina riders during the Tour; which led Moreau, Armin Meier and Laurent Brouchard to confess they had used EPO and, in response, they were disqualified from continuing the race. He received a six-month suspension.

Other cyclists born on this day: Mauricio Mata (Mexico, 1939); Eric Vermeulen (France, 1954); Peter Jonsson (Sweden, 1958); Pavel Soukup (Czechoslovakia, 1965); Henning L. Larsen (Denmark, 1955); András Mészáros (Hungary, 1941); Jim Rossi (USA, 1936, died 2005); Michael Lynch (Australia, 1963).