|Antonin Magne, 1904-1983|
Magne was known as an exceptionally shy character, termed "uninterviewable" by the journalist Jean Bobet who would himself ride the Tour in 1955 and 1957 (and in case you're wondering, he's Louison's younger brother) due to his habit of clamming up whenever a journalist got anywhere near him. However, he could apparently be forceful, as is suggested both by his impressive talent on the bike and by the incident for which he is most remembered and which left the unfortunate René Vietto in tears at the side of the road. Magne had dominated the race from the first stage, wearing the yellow jersey ever since (and would keep it throughout the race), when disaster struck on the way to the spa town of Aix-les-Thermes during Stage 15 when he rode into a pothole and splintered his wooden front wheel rim. So that he could continue, he took team mate Vietto's wheel, leaving him at the roadside. He discovered a short way further along the road that his frame was damaged too, so he waited for the next rider from his team - Georges Speicher - and took his bike. Vietto, meanwhile, was still back where he'd been left waiting for a team car to give him another a wheel and had become so upset that his chances of winning the stage - and without a miracle, a good finish in the overall General Classification - that he'd started crying. A photographer took a picture which, when published, pulled on the heart strings of the French public who nicknamed him King René and adored him forever more for his willingness to sacrifice himself. It's a clever bit of propaganda, too; artfully clipped so Vietto looks as though he's all alone in the world, despite the fact that quite a sizable crowd had gathered to look after him. He would make a fortune from the fees he could charge to appear at criteriums in the future.
So, was Vietto the hero without whom Magne would not have enjoyed his second win? Perhaps, but he rather disgraced himself afterwards with vitriolic attacks on his team leader, during which among other insults he accused him of being a poor rider and continued to bear his animosity for the remainder of his life. Magne, on the other hand, was grateful for what Vietto had done and thanked him personally. (We'll have much more on Vietto in two days' time, the anniversary of his birth.)
(image credit: Petit Brun CC BY-SA 2.0)
In addition to the above, Freire suffered even more than most Tour riders with a series of saddle sores. He also developed respiratory problems, undergoing surgery on his nose and sinuses which kept him away from the Tour in 2011 and caused him to announce the end of his career at the close of the 2012 season. His first major win had been the World Championship in 1999 and he spent his prize money on having an elevator fitted in his grandmother's apartment, ensuring status as one of the nice guys of the peloton and massive popularity among fans (and with his grandmother, one assumes). He wasn't around as much as he ideally would have been, but he'll be missed.
Max Sciandri, born in Derby on this day in 1967, is one of Britain's most successful cyclists, having won the Giro della Romagna twice (1989, 1990), the Grand Prix Pino Cerami (1990), the Tour of Britain (1992), Giro del Veneto, Grand Prix de Fourmies, Coppa Placci and Tour of Luxembourg (all 1993), Wincanton Classic and Grand Prix de Fourmies (1995), the Giro del Lazio (2000), two stages at the Giro d'Italia (Stage 3 in 1992 and Stage 16 in 1994) and Stage 11 at the 1999 Tour de France. In retirement, he became a directeur sportif of the BMC ProTeam.
On this day in 2011, Tour winner Alberto Contador, widely considered the best cyclist of his generation, was cleared of doping by the Spanish Cycling Federation.
Other births: Jens Fiedler (Germany, 1970); Volodymir Gustov (Ukraine, 1977); Marc de Maar (Netherlands, 1984); Zanele Tshoko (South Africa, 1993 - keep an eye on this one, folks, she's going to be good); Ken Frost (Denmark, 1967); Willi Knabenhans (Switzerland, 1906); Adrie Voorting (Netherlands, 1931, died 1961); Jan Pijnenburg (Netherlands, 1906, died 1979); Sigfrid Lundberg (Sweden, 1895, died 1979); Arthur Essing (Germany, 1905, died 1970); Bernard Leene (Netherlands, 1903, died 1988. Fact: Leene was a very prominent member of the Dutch Resistance during the Nazi Occupation); Oksana Kashchyshyna (Ukraine, 1978); Michael Steen Nielsen (Denmark, 1975); Serhiy Kravtsov (USSR, 1948); Blayne Wikner (South Africa, 1972).