|Hughes at the Thüringen Rundfahrt, 2012|
Hughes took a hiatus from cycling and returned to speed skating as the 1998 Winter Olympics approached, concentrating on it for several years and winning more Olympic medals - she thus became the second woman and one of only four athletes to have won medals in both the Summer and Winter Games, and in 2006 became the only athlete to have won more than one medal at both Games. In 2005, she set a new 10,000m World Record at 14'19.73" - it has since been beaten, but remains a Canadian record at the time of writing. Following the 2006 Winter Games, she took inspiration from fellow speed skater Joey Cheek who had donated his gold medal to Right To Play and gave $10,000 of her own money to the humanitarian organisation.
|Hughes at the 2012 Olympics|
Alongside Cindy Klassen, another speed skater from Winnipeg, Hughes is the joint most successful Canadian Olympian of all time. In recognition of her athletic achievements and humanitarian activities she has been awarded the Order of Manitoba, is an Officer of the Order of Canada and has two honourary degrees from the Universities of Manitoba and New Brunswick.
|Wouter Weylandt, 27.09.1984 - 09.05.2011|
He was, in the opinion of his fellow riders and fans, a rider destined for greatness; if not a Grand Tour victory, at least a Grand Tour Points competition. When he signed for 2011 to LeopardTrek - a new team consisting of some of the most promising young riders in the world, including Andy Schleck who was hotly tipped to win the Tour de France that year, some of the established greats including Fabian Cancellara, and some highly experienced older riders such as the legendary Jens Voigt - it seemed that there really couldn't be a better place for a rider such as him to develop his talents and learn the fine art of winning bicycle races.
On the 9th of May, at the Giro d'Italia which just one year previously had been disrupted when riders protested against poor safety conditions, he was killed as he descended the Passo del Bocco at 80kph. According to Manuel Antonio Cardoso, who was behind him at the time, Weylandt had looked over his shoulder to see if other riders were catching him and lost control, hitting a guardrail before being catapulted 10m across the road and landing heavily on his face. The race's chief medical officer was nearby in a car and saw the accident take place: "he was already and clearly dead upon impact. I had never seen such a thing before, such a sudden death," he later told reporters. The impact when he hit the wall would have been sufficient to end his career even had he have fallen there - an autopsy found that his left leg had been so badly damaged it would have required amputation. His death was attributed to skull and facial injuries and massive damage to his internal organs - it was noted that the impact when he hit the road had stopped his heart instantaneously and there would not have been time for him to suffer. His girlfriend, An-Sophie, was five months pregnant when he died.
It's often said - with some truth - that academic qualifications are few and far between in the men's professional peloton (the same is very much not true among the women: since few female cyclists will ever make a living from their sport, few ever considered it as a future occupation and only took it up while at university). Pedro Horillo, born in Eibar on this day in 1974, is a retired Basque cyclist and an exception: he had already earned a degree in philosophy from Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, the Basque national university, when he became a professional rider with Vitalicio Seguros-Grupo Generali in 1998 and after his retirement he became well-respected for his intelligently-written articles on cycling and doping.
|Horrillo at the 2009 Tour of California|
He retired in 2009 following a horrific crash at the Giro in which he hit a railing and plunged over it into a ravine, falling 60m and suffering a broken neck, knee and thigh as well as a punctured lung. He was unconscious when the medics got to him, then awoke while in the ambulance and was placed in an induced coma. The following day - when riders mounted a protest at safety conditions in the race, just as they would the following year and again following the death of Wouter Weylandt in 2009 - he was brought back to consciousness for scans which, thankfully, revealed no brain injuries. He spent the next five weeks in hospital, then made a full recovery but never took part in another race, finding that he was no longer able to perform at his previous level. However, he still follows cycling and is especially keen on the Hell of the North, Paris-Roubaix: ""If I could only have ridden one race as a pro, that would have been it - and if possible, in the rain because that's the real Roubaix when it rains," he says.
Elizabeth Lee Heiden Reid, known as Beth Heiden, was born in Madison, Wisconsin on this day in 1959 and is probably the only World Road Race Champion who wasn't really a cyclist. She played tennis and soccer while at school, then also took up running in 1975 and set a national record for her age group that same year. She was also a speed skater and, the following year, qualified for the Olympics where she was 11th in the 3,000m. In 1979, she became World Speed Skating Champion after winning all four of the constituent races.
|Left to right: Sara Doctor, Connie Carpenter, Beth Heiden|
Born in Australia on this day in 1974, Nigel Barley fell three metres from a roof and landed on a hammer; aged 26, he was a paraplegic. After spending a year learning what he could do - and techniques to do what he couldn't - he decided to take up handcycling, then two years later set a new handcycle World 24-hour record when he covered 462km; three years after that he rode the 4,437km between Perth and Sydney. In 2009 he won the Road Race and the Individual Time Trial at the National Championships. Silver and bronze at the 2011 World Cup and several good results during the first half of 2012, as part of the World Cup and the Paracycling Tour, qualified him for the Paralympic Games in London, where he won silver in the Individual Time Trial.
|Alfred Haemerlinck, the most successful|
rider you've never heard of
Benoni Beheyt, born in Zwijnaarde, Belgium on this day in 1940, won Gent-Wevelgem and the World Road Race Championship in 1963 and Stage 22a at the Tour de France, the General Classification at the Ronde van België and the National Road Race Championship in 1964.
Ángel Casero, born in Albalat dels Tarongers on this day in 1972, was Spanish Road Race Champion in 1998 and 1999. In 2000 he was second overall at the Vuelta a Espana, then in 2001 he won it.
Giovanni Fidanza, born in Bergamo, Italy on this day in 1965, won the overall Points competition at the Giro d'Italia and Stage 20 at the Tour de France in 1989, then Stage 2 at the Giro in 1990.
Heinz Wengler, born in Germany on this day in 1912, shared victory for Stage 17b (a 37km road race) at the 1937 Tour de France with the Adolph Braeckeveldt. His nickname was Herr Schmal on account of his diminutive stature and five years later, when he was 30, he was killed in action on the Eastern Front.
Enrico Zaina, born in Brescia on this day in 1967, won Stage 17 at the Vuelta a Espana in 1992, Stage 11 at the Giro d'Italia in 1995 and Stages 9, 20 and second place overall at the 1996 Giro.
Other cyclists born on this day: Raúl Saavedra (Colombia, 1969); Cosme Saavedra (Argentina, 1901, died 1967); Chartchai Juntrat (Thailand, 1951); Alexey Kolessov (Kazakhstan, 1984); Mauno Uusivirta (Finland, 1948); Rebecca Henderson (Australia, 1991); Mitsuteru Tanaka (Japan, 1971); Michael Andrew (Malaysia, 1943); Kris Gerits (Belgium, 1971).