Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 18.01.12

Captain Gérard's Folding Bicycle

Bicycle History
On this day in 1896, an English patent was issued for "Captain Gérard's Folding Bicycle," a machine that had been patented in France two years previously. According to the English patent details, the machine was jointly invented by Captain Gérard and Charles Morel - this was in fact not the case. Gérard, then a French Army lieutenant, had come up with the idea that a folding bike might prove a useful method of transport for troops and had patented a design for one in 1893, but it seems he knew little about bikes and those to whom he showed his design advised him that it wouldn't work. He set about looking for someone who could assist in improving the design and eventually came across Morel who, rather than trying to modify Gérard's bike, suggested that they go into business selling his own design; evidently believing that the public would want to buy a machine tough enough for the military. The bikes were first sold in France in the summer of 1895 and proved enormously popular with the company opening a shop in Paris that autumn - in time, the army link would become less tenuous when 25 of them were put to military use. Gérard would later be promoted to captain and put in charge of a cycling regiment, and the bike was subsequently also sold to the Russian and Romanian armies. In time, the two men argued and shut down their company, selling manufacturing rights to Peugeot, Michelin and the French Army.

The Bull from Grimstad, Thor Hushovd
(image credit: Paul Hermans CC BY-SA 3.0
Thor Hushovd, 2010 National and World Champion and the first Norwegian leader of the Tour de France, was born today in 1978. Highlights of his career have been winning the Under-23 Paris-Roubaix (1998), the Tour de Normadie (2001), the Tour of Sweden (2001), two earlier spells as National Champion (2004 and 2005) as well as stages at the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Critérium du Dauphiné and Vuelta a Espana, two Points Classification wins at the Tour and two podium finishes at Paris-Roubaix.

At 1.83m tall and 83kg, Hushovd - frequently know as "Big" Thor Hushovd as well as his other nickname The God of Thunder and among the most popular riders with fans of all nationalities - is one of the physically largest and strongest riders in the peloton, using his strength and weight to full effect when descending as was seen in Stage 13 of the 2011 Tour when he hit speeds as high as 112kph (68mph). Yet, in 2010, he was injured by a little girl; snapping his collar bone in a crash after colliding with her. He was trying to go to her aid when he realised he was injured - fortunately, she was not.

Happy birthday to retired Peter van Petegem, who began his professional career with PDM in 1992 and retired after a year with Quick Step-Innergetic in 2007. In addition to winning bronze at the 2003 World Championships, Petegem was chiefly known as a Classics specialist and is one of only ten riders to have won the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in a single season.

Christophe Kern, winner of the 2002 Under-23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the 2011 French Time Trial Championship and stages at the Tour de l'Avenir and Critérium du Dauphiné was born on this day in 1981 in Wissembourg, Bas-Rhin, Alsace.

Luzia Zberg was born on this day in 1970 in Altborg, Uri, Switzerland. Now retired, she was National Road Race Champion from 1991-1994, National Individual Time Trial Champion in 1994 and 1995 and represented her country in the 1992 Olympics.

Belgian sprinter, one-time winner of Paris-Tours and podium finisher in a few Vuelta a Espana Wim Arras was born on this day in 1964. Arras' career appeared to be approaching a peak as he entered his late 20s, but was then cut short when he was injured in a motorcycle accident in 1990.

Walter Riccomi was born on this day in Montecarlo, Italy, in 1951. Riccomi finished the Giro d'Italia in 7th place overall once and 9th place overall twice as well as a 5th place overall at the Tour de France, yet never won a single stage. He seems to have been far more suited to one-day races, as his wins at Aix-en-Provence, the GP Città di Camaiore and generally better results in the earlier stages of multi-day events would seem to suggest.

Gerrit Voorting was born on this day in 1923 in Velsen, Noord-Holland, Netherlands. In addition to winning silver at the 1948 Olympics in London, Voorting won Stage 4 in the 1953 Tour de France, led the race for a day in 1956, then won Stage 2 and led for three days in 1958. He is the brother of Adrie, who represented the Netherlands in the 1952 Olympics.

Ken Farnum, born on this day in 1931, was the first Barbadian to ever compete in the Olympics (1952, Helsinki). Cyclists from Barbados had dominated the Carribean grass track racing for scene for many years by that point, but the country had no Olympic committee. As a result, he rode for Jamaica in the Sprint and 1km Time Trial, but won medals in neither.

Other births: Richard Roett (Barbados, 1943); Eva Loweová-Orvošová (Slovakia, 1971); Vladimir Miholjević (Croatia, 1974); Teodor Černý (Czechoslovakia, 1957); Oksana Saprykina (Ukraine, 1979); Luvsangiin Erkhemjamts (Mongolia, 1943); Günther Ziegler (Germany, 1933); Ute Enzenauer (Germany, 1965); Valery Yardy (USSR, 1948, died 1994).

Tomorrow: Moser sets a new Hour Record and a French 
newspaper announces its plan to hold a bike race

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