|Bahamontes, The Eagle of Toledo|
There was one rather unusual team that year: IBAC-Molteni was formed from the two existing teams of those names, and half of them wore IBAC jerseys while the other half wore Molteni jerseys.
In the very first stage, just as Anquetil crashed and hurt his knee and elbow, Bahamontes escaped in a four-man break; since he was known as a climber and the stage was flat. The Belgian Eddy Pauwels won the stage and got himself into the maillot jaune for two stages, but the 1'28" advantage Bahamontes gained came as a big surprise and Anquetil admitted that he now saw him as his main rival. Rik van Looy won Stage 2a, then the Pelforth-Sauvage took the Stage 2b team time trial before another successful break took Seamus Elliott to victory in Stage 3 - he then stayed in yellow until Stage 6a. He never had it again for the remainder of the race, but it didn't matter because he'd earned his place in history as the first Irishman to lead the Tour de France.
Desmet was still in yellow, probably as much to his own surprise as anybody else's, because other than a couple of Classics wins (Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Paris-Tours in 1958), he'd never shown much potential as a stage racer (he'd win La Flèche Wallonne in 1964, too), and he kept it all the way to the Alps in Stage 15 when Bahamontes decided to use the Grand Bois and Col de Porte to show the rest of the field how a real grimpeur gets a bike to the top of a mountain. He won the stage and moved into second place. Stage 16 took in 202km from Grenoble to Val d'Isère, a tough parcours that Bahamontes probably could have won; but he had bigger fish to fry and began working on improving his overall time, and moved into the lead, while Fernando Manzaneque - who had been sixth overall in the 1961 Tour and stood on the Vuelta a Espana podium a couple of times - won the stage.
|Anquetil and Poulidor|
Bahamontes was second, 3'35" down, while José Pérez Francés of Ferrys was third with +10'14" and Desmet ended up fifth with +15'. Poulidor, whom so many had thought had a real chance of victory, was eighth with +16'46". Some time after the race, Anquetil and Geminiani admitted that they'd cheating and revealed how easy it had been to do so - the next year, the rule they'd circumvented was repealed.
A quarter of a century before Mark Cavendish there was Steve Joughin, an out-spoken compact Manx sprinter who became one of the best in the world and, just like Cav, spent much of his career trying to explain to fans why it was he would never win the Tour de France.
Ten years earlier, he'd have ruined his chances of a professional career there and then; but during the late 1970s and early 1980s British racing was undergoing something of a renaissance and some of the top European names were making the trip across the Channel to race in British events. Joughin beat them regularly enough to get himself noticed and in 1983 he was recruited by the Moducel team, staying with them for four seasons. In 1986 he won two stages at the Tour of Britain and was offered a place with the Percy Bilton-Holdsworth team, then moved to Ever Ready-Ammaco for a year before going back to Percy Bilton from 1989 until 1991 when he spent his last season with KJC-Revelation.
Like many ex-professionals, Joughin found it extremely difficult to adjust to normal life when he retired, finding solace in alcohol. By 2005 he had become so ill that doctors were amazed he survived; then, using the sheer will power that all professional cyclists have, he saved himself and gave up drinking. Now living in Stoke-on-Trent, Joughin owns and runs the Pro-Vision sportswear company and works in a voluntary capacity for Alcoholics Anonymous.
One rider who was not was Michael Sandstød, born in Copenhagen on this day in 1968. Sandstød enjoyed numerous successes on the road and on the track over the course of his eleven-year career, which began in 1993 with Gitter Mand and ended in 2004 with CSC, including numerous gold medals at National Championships and General Classification victories at the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque (1999) and the Tour de Picardie (2000, 2002). He achieved it all without resorting to the magical talismans favoured by many other riders..
At the 2002 Tour de France, Sandstød had been performing exceptionally well - he'd finished Stage 5 in second place behind Jaan Kirsipuu, his best ever result in the race, and decided to show the other riders that their dried four-leaf clover, miniature statues of saints, upside-down numbers (a common one when a rider is allocated number 13, but some riders have other numbers they consider unlucky) and bottles of holy water were nothing but mumbo-jumbo, so that evening as the teams ate their dinner he deliberately knocked over the salt. Salt is regarded as highly significant by the superstitious and especially so, for some reason, by superstitious cyclists, some of whom wear little phials of if when racing. Spilling it is considered extremely unlucky - which is why many of the other riders around the table stopped eating and stared at Sandstød with horrified expressions.
Fortunately, the terrible things that befall those who spill salt can be avoided by performing one of various rituals, the most well-known of which is to throw some over your left shoulder so that it hits the devil in the eye. But Sandstød did not carry out any ritual. Instead, he deliberately spilled some more, letting it pour onto the floor. "Come on - it's only salt!" he told the silent, shocked men around him.
The following stage was between Pau and La Mongie in the Pyrenees, the first mountain stage of that year's Tour. On a descent, Sandstød lost control of his bike and crashed hard, sustaining injuries so serious - a punctured lung, eight smashed ribs and a shattered shoulder - that he was close to death and spent weeks in intensive care.
Simon Špilak, born in Tišina on this day in 1986, was Slovenian Under-19 Road Race and Time Trial Champion in 2004, then Under-23 Road Race Champion in 2005. In 2009 he won the Tour de Romandie, and in 2012 he was fourth overall at Paris-Nice.
David Millar's arrest
"They went in with a gun first, as if somebody was going to hit them with a back wheel or something. They sat me down and I wasn't allowed to move while they searched the house. They search while you're there. It took them four hours.
They humiliated me and were critiquing my lifestyle, using a classic good cop, bad cop thing. It was psychological warfare. The bad cop literally hated me. He was saying: 'You're not a good person - we know that.' He said: 'You take three paces and I will bring you down like you're resisting arrest.' It was deliberate. I felt completely violated."Eventually, the police found what they were looking for - empty phials that had once contained EPO and two used syringes. Precisely where they were found is a bit of a mystery - some reports say that they were lying on top of a book, others that they were concealed within a hollowed-out book. Millar was then taken to Biarritz and locked in a cell. It would later turn out that they had targeted Millar after Philippe Gaumont, arrested six months previously, told them that the British rider had encouraged Cofidis team doctor Jean-Jacques Menuet to provide them and Cedric Vasseur with the drug, which increases red blood cell population.
Millar denied the claims, telling police that Gaumont was "a lunatic" and that he was "talking absolute crap." However, by this time his phone had been tapped for some four months and, when faced with damning evidence against him, he took the sensible option and made a full confession the next day. Under international cyclings sanctioned by the UCI, a confession is considered equal grounds for suspension as a positive test and he was banned for two years by the British Cycling Federation in August. He was stripped of his 2003 World Time Trial Championship, his 3rd place Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré finish also from 2003 and his Stage 1 and 6 wins at the 2001 Vuelta a Espana.
Marianne Berglund, born in Skellefteå, Sweden on this day in 1963, won the Junior National Road Race Championships in 1978 and the same event at Elite level in 1979, 1984, 1987 and 1991. She was World Champion in 1983 - the first time the title ever went to a Swedish rider.
Other births: Mario Ghella (Italy, 1929); Henry Brask Andersen (Denmark, 1896, died 1970); Roy Knickman (USA, 1965); Ognyan Toshev (Bulgaria, 1940); Folke Nilsson (Sweden, 1907, died 1980); Jack Hoobin (Australia, 1927, died 2000); Márlon Paniagua (Guatemala, 1974); Richard Johnstone (New Zealand, 1936); XChantal Daucourt (Switzerland, 1966); Günter Lörke (Germany, 1965); Heiko Szonn (Germany, 1976).