Sunday, 26 February 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 26.02.12

Team Sky's first race, the 2010 Cancer
Council Helpline Classic
(image credit: Ant CC BY 2.0
Team Sky
On this day in 2009, the creation of Team Sky was announced - as was their intention to win the Tour de France within five years. Sponsored by the satellite television broadcasting, telephony and broadband internet provided BSkyB, the team is managed by Dave Brailsford and began with an annual budget of more than £30 million. Other sponsors included IG Markets, Marks&Spencer, Gatorade and Oakley. Italian manufacturer Pinarello provided the bikes and Jaguar provided cars, thus enabling the team an easy win in the unofficial "poshest team car" stakes. The team is based in Manchester and maintains a logistics base in Belgium and an operational base in Italy.

Planning to build a British core, the first riders confirmed by the team were Steve Cummings, Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard, Chris Froome, Russell Downing and Geraint Thomas. Morris Possoni, Chris Sutton, Michael Barry, Kjell Carlström, John-Lee Augustyn, Greg Henderson, Lars Petter Nordhaug, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Thomas Löfkvist, Kurt Asle Arvesen, Ben Swift, Simon Gerrans, Juan Antonio Flecha, and Bradley Wiggins would join them later.

Sky won its first race, the Cancer Council Helpline Classic in Adelaide at which Greg Henderson and Chris Sutton took the top two places, and then received a wild card entry for the Tour de France alongside invites to the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana. Bradley Wiggins became the first Sky rider to wear a Grand Tour leader's jersey when he won the Giro prologue and, weeks later, Ben Swift won the Tour de Picardie. Immediately a favourite for the Tour, in the end the team was less successful than they had hoped with Thomas Löfkvist's 17th overall being the best result. They withdrew from the Vuelta following the death of soigneur (called a "carer" on Sky's official website, as is the preferred term since Willy Voet tried to drive a car full of drugs over ta border in 1998).

2011 got off to a good start with Ben Swift coming 3rd overall at the Tour Down Under and Flecha and Hunt did well at the Tour of Qatar. Boasson Hagen took the Points Classification and was 2nd overall at the Tour of Oman, then Wiggins finished Paris-Nice in 3rd and Geraint Thomas was 2nd in the Dwars door Vlaanderen. In June, Wiggins won the Critérium du Dauphiné, a race that is frequently considered to reveal riders destined for future Tour success and thus making himself a favourite when the Tour began. However, he abandoned with a broken collar bone after a crash involving several riders in Stage 7, the day after Boasson Hagen had won Sky's first ever Tour Stage and the race ended with Rigoberto Urán the highest-placed Sky rider at 24th overall. Chris Froome would later win Stage 17 at the Vuelta, dropping Geox-TMC's surprise star Juan José Cobo as they fought towards the finish line at the summit of Peña Cabarga.

Gee Atherton
Gee Atherton
(image credit: Courtney Nash CC BY 2.0
George David "Gee" Atherton, one of Britain's most successful mountain bikers, was born on this day in 1985 near Salisbury. His first major success was a bronze medal for the Downhill Race at the British National Mountain Bike Championships in 2000, when he raced in the Youth Class. He won the same event in 2001, again as a Youth, then again in 2002 and 2003 as a Junior and in 2004 as an Elite rider - the same year he won Round 3 of the UCI Downhill Cup; which he would win outright in 2010 when he beat three-time champion Greg Minnaar.

Like many downhill riders, Gee also rides 4X - a race in which four riders compete against one another on a downhill course featuring prepared BMX-style jumps. He won Round 1 of the UCI 4X Cup in 2007 along with the European Downhill Championship, but has tended to leave 4X for older brother Dan. He won the UCI Downhill Championships in 2008, the same year younger sister Rachel won the Women's Class, then took British Downhill Championship in 2009 and the UCI World Downhill Cup the following year.

Connie Carpenter-Phinney
Now retired, Connie Carpenter-Phinney was one of the many cyclists to have also excelled in speed skating. She was born in Madison, USA on this day in 1957. In 1972 when she was 14, she competed in the speed skating event at the Winter Olympics; thus becoming the youngest American athlete to take part in the history of the Winter Games (a record that still stands).

On the bike, she won the National Road and Track Pursuit Championships in 1976, 1977 and 1979 and was victorious in numerous criterium races. She won an Olympic cycling gold medal in 1984 after beating Rebecca Twigg in a sprint. She is married to Davis Phinney, the first US rider to win a stage at the Tour de France and the couple have two children, one of whom - Taylor - is himself a professional cyclist, a three-time World Pursuit Champion and winner of two editions of the Under-23 Paris-Roubaix.

On this day in 2005, Victoria Pendleton set a new British Women's Record when she completed the 1000m Time Trial in 1'10.854".

Other births: Jan Jansen (Netherlands, 1945); Kwok Ho Ting (Hong Kong, 1988); Gerard van Vliet (Aruba, 1964); Dorus Nijland (Netherlands, 1880, died 1968); Guo Shuang (China, 1986); Bogdan Yanchev (Bulgaria, 1913); Svatopluk Buchta (Czechoslovakia, 1966); Pavel Tesař (Czechoslovakia, 1967); Billy Kerr (Ireland, 1945); Frank Verleyen (Belgium, 1963); Artūras Kasputis (USSR, 1967); Bruno Loatti (Italy, 1915, died 1962); Ferenc Habony (Hungary, 1945); Yves Van Massenhove (Belgium, 1909, died 1990).

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