Saturday, 14 January 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 14.01.12

Gert-Jan Theunisse
Doping nearly killed the Tour de France,
but sometimes a doper can regain the
respect of fans and Theunisse is one of the
few. However, he can never, ever be
forgiven for that haircut.
Gert-Jan Theunisse, winner of the King of the Mountains classification at the 1989 Tour de France and came 4th overall, was born on this day in 1963 in Oss, Netherlands.

He had come to widespread attention in the Tour one year previously when he presented a very real challenge to Pedro Delgado (the two riders had been team mates until Delgado left PDM for Reynolds-Banesto the previous year), holding fourth place overall until he tested positive for testosterone, received a ten-minute penalty and dropped to 11th (Delgado, coincidentally, tested positive for probenicid, a diuretic widely used to mask traces of steroids in urine - however, it had not yet been banned by the UCI and as a result he was not punished). Two years later, having won the Alpe d'Huez stage in the process of winning his polka dot jersey, he again tested positive in the Flèche Wallonne and Bicicleta Vasca. Sanctions in those pre-Festina Affair and Operacion Puerto days were considerably less strict than they are today and he was not banned, but was forced to retire after being diagnosed with a heart condition in 1995.

He continued to race in a few small-scale mountain bike events and, having trained Bart Brentjens to a level where he occupied the very top rung of the sport, became manager of the Specialized Mountain Bike Team in 1996. Then, further disaster: in 1997 while on a training ride, he was hit by a car and sustained a spinal injury that left him a paraplegic. From this point begins one of the most inspiring stories in cycling, sufficient even to forgive him his early doping offences. Through a combination of good fortune and sheer willpower, he learned to walk again in just six months and returned to his duties with the team. In January 1999, he won another mountain bike race. Five months later, he suffered a heart attack, possibly as a result of the doping; but recovered to a state where he could continue as team coach until Specialized ended its mountain bike sponsorship programme in 2001, at which point he moved to Majorca and began riding his bike 150km every day; a regime that served as training for the 2002 Over-30s European MTB Championships and which he won. He remained in competitive mountain biking despite constant, severe pain and involuntary spastic attacks caused by the 1997 injury, right up until 2005 when his condition had degenerated to a state where it became impossible to continue. Theunisse now plans to compete in paralympic cycling events.

Happy birthday Gerben Karstens, 1966 Dutch Road Race Champion and winner of one stage in the Giro d'Italia, six stages in the Tour de France, fourteen stages in the Vuelta a Espana, Paris-Tours and an Olympic gold medal. he was born in 1942.

James Moore (right - on the left, 1869 Paris-
Rouen runner-up Jean-Eugene-Andre Castera)
James Moore
James Moore, the claimed winner of the world's first bike race, was born on this day in Bury St. Edmunds in 1849.

That first race took place - so far as we know - in St-Cloud, Paris, where Moore's family (his father may have been French, but there is no proof of this) had taken up residence when he was five and where he befriended the Michaux family, one of whom (either father Pierre or son Ernest) was (probably) the first person to think of fitting pedals and cranks to a hobby-horse and thus invented the velocioede, the forerunner of the modern bike. However, once again there is little evidence that he did in fact win the race - in no doubt, meanwhile, is his victory at the first Paris-Rouen one year later.

Moore died on the 17th of July in 1935, aged 86. Disappointingly, and perhaps inevitably considering the mystery that shrouds Moore's life, it is not known where he was buried - most researchers believe his grave is located somewhere near the Brent Reservoir in North London, fittingly the location of Britain's first cycle race which took place one day after Moore's race in St-Cloud. The bike he rode at St-Cloud is on display at Ely Museum in Cambridgeshire.

Raimondas Rumšas was born on this day in Lithuania in 1972. Now retired, his best professional result was third place overall in the 2002 Tour de France, but he is better known for what happened afterwards when police discovered EPO, growth hormones, anabolic steroids, testosterone and corticoids in a car belonging to his wife, Edita. The couple claimed that the drugs were intended for Edita's mother but, as they should have been declared on entry into France, she spent some months in prison. Then, shortly after finishing the 2003 Giro d'Italia in 6th place overall, he tested positive for EPO and was banned from racing for one year, returning to the sport for a short while once the ban expired. While it was never proved one way or the other who had been the intended recipient of the drugs discovered in 2002, they were both handed four month suspended sentences while their Polish doctor, Krzysztof Ficek, got a twelve month suspended sentence in 2006; finally bringing another murky cycling career to an end.

Grimpeur Maxime Monfort, who rode with the Luxembourg-based Leopard Trek team in 2011 and will remain with team leaders Andy and Frank Schleck when the team merges with Johann Bruyneel's Radioshack for 2012, was born on this day in 1983. Monfort's best results to date have been 1st overall, 1st Youth category and a stage win at the 2003 Tour de Luxembourg, 11th overall in the 2007 Vuelta a Espana, the National Time Trial Champion title in 2009, 1st overall in the 2010 Bayern-Rundfahrt and 6th overall in the 2011 Vuelta a Espana.

Peter Post
Peter Post, 12.11.1933 - 14.01.2011
Though he had been a cyclist of considerable note in his own right - becoming Dutch National Road Race Champion in 1963, winning Paris-Roubaix in 1964 (the first Dutchman to do so and setting a record average speed that has yet to be beaten) and earning the nickname "The Emperor of the Six Days" due to his track prowess - it was as a team manager that Peter Post really made his mark, introducing cycling to the so-called "total football" techniques that he had observed in use at his local Ajax team during his time as manager of the Ti-Raleigh team in the mid 1970s to 1983 when he trained several riders who joined the ranks of the all-time greats, including Hennie Kuiper, Joop Zoetemelk and Jan Raas.

In 1980, when Zoetemelk and Kuiper came 1st and 2nd overall in the Tour, Post's team won 11 stages - a feat that has not been repeated since. He was a shrewd businessman, experiencing little trouble in bringing the enormous Panasonic electronics manufacturer in as a new sponsor after Raleigh pulled out in 1983 and drove the team on to still more success. He retired in 1995, but returned as an adviser to the Rabobank team in 2005 when their rider Michael Rasmussen won the King of the Mountains and is now ranked as the second most successful directeur sportif after the legendary Guillaume Driessens whose Molteni team won 663 races. Post was 77 when he died on this day in Amsterdam in 2011.

Other birthdays: Deirdre Murphy (Ireland, 1959); Raymonf van der Biezen (Netherlands, 1987); José Antonio Martiarena (Spain, 1968); Antonio Maspes (Italy, 1932, died 2000); Hiroshi Toyooka (Japan, 1969); An U-Hyeok (South Korea, 1964); Sergey Lagutin (Uzbekistan, 1981); Erich Welt (Austria, 1928); Bill Holmes (Great Britain, 1936); Micheal Watson (Hong Kong, 1938); Benoît Joachim (Luxembourg, 1976); István Lang (Hungary, 1933); Herman van Loo (Netherlands, 1945); Ron Keeble (Great Britain, 1946);

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