(© johnthescone CC2.0)
Rebecca Romero, who started her professional career in sport as a rower and then became a National, World and Olympic Champion cyclist, was born on this day in 1980.
Romero's debut as a cyclist came at the 2006 Track World Championship in Moscow where she won silver, having been just beaten by Northern Irish Wendy Houvernaghel. She became National Time Trial Champion the same year, the National 3km Pursuit Champion the next and added another World Championships silver for the same event. In 2008, she won it individually and as part of the British squad in the Team Pursuit, then won gold for the Individual Pursuit at the Olympics.
In October 2010, she announced that she had decided to leave the British Olympic team before the 2012 Games in London, citing "several set-backs at crucial points" during the previous season.
Cindy Pieters was born on this day 1976 in Veurne, Belgium. She turned professional in 1999, the year she became National Road Race Champion and came 3rd in the Flèche Wallonne Féminine. In 2000, she came 3rd in the National Time Trial Championships, improving her result to 1st the following year and then 2nd a year later.
Retired Spanish professional Fernando Escartin was born on this day in 1968 in Biescas. He entered nine Tours de France between 1992 and 2002, missing only 1998 and 2001. His best year was 1999 when he won Stage 15 and came 3rd overall. He was more successful in the Vuelta a Espana, which he entered seven times between 1993 and 2001, missing 1995 and 1999 - he came 2nd overall in 1997 and 1998.
On this day in 1854, Thomas Stevens was born in Birkhamstead, Hertfordshire. Aged 29, he set out from his family's adopted home in San Francisco on a penny-farthing fitted with cutting-edge nickel-plated wheels - a ride that, a year and a half later, would earn him the title of the first man to circumnavigate the globe on a bicycle. He died on the 24th of January 1935 and is buried in London's St. Marylebone Cemetery.
Later on, editor H.H. England misunderstood the feelings of the British cycling public and steered the magazine toward support of the National Cyclists' Union's continued ban of bicycle racing on roads, a ban that dated from an incident in the 19th Century when some racing cyclists upset horses pulling a carriage; the occupant of the carriage making a complaint to the police as a result. This led to a belief that were road racing to take place, the police would respond by banning bicycles altogether from the roads. Readership fell as a result and rival titles sprang up, supporting Percy Stallard and his British League of Racing Cyclists in their attempts to establish road races of the type taking place overseas (when they did manage to organise a race, the police supported them). The two best-selling rivals, The Bicycle and Sporting Cyclist, enjoyed good sales at first but would eventually merge with the older publication.
In the late 1950s, still under H.H., the magazine changed its name once again to reflect the increasing popularity of mopeds, becoming Cycling and Mopeds. England was certain that this move would drive sales and draw moped riders into cycling, but it had the opposite effect and sales dropped dramatically - cycling had proved to be far more than the brief craze some felt it would be and the magazine dropped the mopeds. Eventually, he was pushed out and new editor Alan Gayfer, a considerably less conservative character, was brought in as his replacement. Gayfer's first move was to drop the mopeds and broaden the racing coverage so that the magazine inclused news of all the forms of cycling then in existence. He also took on two new reporters who would go on to become the biggest names in British cycling journalism - Les Woodland and Phil Ligget.
Other births: Josef Moser (Austria, 1917); Georges Valentin (France, 1892, died 1981); Remo Sansonetti (Australia, 1946); Sal Sansonetti (Australia, 1946); Bogumiła Matusiak (Poland, 1971); Erik Friborg (Sweden, 1893 died 1968); Carsten Bergemann (Germany, 1979); Jos Alberts (Netherlands, 1960); Mok Sau Hei (Hong Kong, 1941); Ernst Streng (Germany, 1942, died 1993); Silvio Pedroni (Italy, 1918, died 2003); Angelo De Martini (Italy, 1897, died 1979); Scott Mercier (USA, 1968); László Halász (Hungary, 1959); Sławomir Chrzanowski (Poland, 1969).
Tomorrow: René Pottier and the first mountain in the Tour; Denis Menchov