Monday, 26 March 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 26.03.12

Vietto at the Tour de France, 1933
Paris-Nice began on this day in 1935, the latest start in the history of the race. The winner was René Vietto - the very same rider who had become a hero at the Tour de France a year earlier after newspapers published a (skillfully clipped) photograph of his crying, apparently all alone (in fact, a sizable crowd of fans was taking care of him) after he'd ridden back up a mountain to give his bike to his team leader Antonin Magne - and the same rider who according to cycling legend, would demand that his domestique chopped off a toe after he'd lost one of his own in 1947.

Laurent Brochard
Born in Le Mans on this day in 1968, Laurent Brochard spent much of his career riding as a domestique for - among others - Richard Virenque. Like Virenque, he was implicated in the Festina Affair.

Brochard's professional career began in 1992 with a Stage 3 victory at the Tour Méditerranéen, but he had also been a successful amateur. He won another stage - 1b - at the Tour Méditerranéen the following year and rode his first Tour de France, coming 44th overall. In 1995, he was 4th in the Tour prologue and then a year later 4th in the Mountains Classification, revealing himself as a super-domestique - a rider who, when given opportunity, can ride for himself and pick up glory for the team as he does so. He confirmed this by winning Stage 9 in 1997 and Stage 7 at the 1999 Vuelta a Espana. In 2002, he won the General Classification at the Tour of Poland, in 2003 the same at the Criterium International.

At the time of the Festina Affair, a reliable test for EPO did not yet exist and so officials had to rely on a haematocrit reading, a measure of the blood's red cell population. 50% or above was considered likely indication of either EPO use or a blood transfusion. Brochard's was found to be 50.3%, according to results published on the 28th of November 1998. Three weeks later, on the 15th of December, he, Christophe Moreau and Didier Rous, Festina team mates, were each banned from competition for six months.

Rebecca Twigg
(image credit: James F. Perry CC BY-SA 3.0)
Rebecca Twigg
Born in Seattle on this this day in 1963, Rebecca Twigg became one of the most successful cyclists in US history during the 1980s with two Olympic medals, six Individual Pursuit World Championships and sixteen National Championships victories to her name. She also won the first three Women's Challenge races, a record that was never broken in the race's 19 year history.

Twigg's last Olympic appearance was in 1986 when she retired from the team due to disagreements with the US Cycling Federation over the so-called SuperBike which, having ridden a few times in training, she refused to ever ride again and the Federation's treatment of the legendary coach Eddie Borysewicz.

Alessio Galletti
Alessio Galletti, born on this day in 1968, suffered a heart attack during the Subida al Naranco on the 15th of June 2005 and died shortly afterwards in hospital. In 2000, he received a four month suspension after investigators discovered a vial of Eprex - a commercial name for EPO - and a box that had contained testosterone at his Tuscan home. In 2004, he was sacked by his Domina Vacanze team immediately before the Tour de France - police had raided his hotel room and found nothing, but had phone tap evidence that apparently revealed him buying banned doping products.

Alessio Galletti, 1968-2005
(image credit: My Name Is Elin)
Galletti was also under police surveillance due to suspected links to a blood doping gang that stole equipment from hospitals and investigators had built up a large glossary of what they believed to be code words for various illicit objects and activities - requesting a ten-spoke wheel for a time trial meant that the person asking for it wanted 10,000 doses of EPO, while asking for a car to undergo an oil change meant that a rider wanted a blood transfusion. His name had also been connected to that of Dr. Carlo Santuccione in what became known as the Oil For Drugs Affair, a scandal that uncovered a large doping ring and resulted in the suspension of several riders and Dr. Santuccione's lifetime ban from working with athletes.

A post mortem didn't find conclusive evidence that Galletti had been using EPO at the time of his death, but his track record and the fact that at 37 he was well into his career and seemingly past the age when young athletes tragically fall victim to undiagnosed heart defects certainly suggests that the drug had a part to play. He left a nine-month-old son and his wife who was carrying their second child.

Sérgio Paulinho
Sérgio Paulinho, born in Oeiras, Portugal on this day in 1980, drew attention to himself by winning a bronze medal in the Under-23 Time Trial at the 2002 World Championships. National Time Trial Championship victory at Elite level and a silver medal at the Olympics in 2004 confirmed that he was a rider with a future.

Then, in 2006, he was implicated in Operación Puerto, the doping case surrounding Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes that almost tore professional cycling apart. During that season Discovery Team boss Johan Bruyneel publicly announced that he had signed Paulihno for 2007 despite the fact that the rider was potentially facing a lengthy ban. However, Bruyneel stated that it was his opinion that Paulinho was innocent of all charges - as proved to be the case when he was cleared of any involvement with doping on the 26th of July, 2006.

Discovery folded at the end of 2007, leaving Paulinho in need of a new home which he subsequently found with Astana - and he spent the following two years with them. Then in 2010, perhaps to show thanks to the manager who had shown faith in him, he joined Bruyneel's new Radioshack team at the end of the 2009 season. He won Stage 10 at the Tour de France for them the next year.

French cyclist Léon Level, born on the 12th of July 1910, died after a crash at the Parc des Princes velodrome in Paris on this day in 1949. He had come 7th overall in the 1933 Tour de France and won Stage 9 before coming 10th overall in 1936.

Dante Gianello was born in Italy on this day in 1912 but adopted French nationality in 1931, before becoming a professional cyclist in 1935 with the Peugeot-Hutchinson team. Three years later, he won Stage 13 and finished 10th verall at the 1938 Tour de France. In 1939 he was 3rd on Stage 15, then he won the Criterium du Midi in 1941 and 1945. However, on the 15th of August that year, his career was brought to an end when he was hit by a Jeep at the GP del Desembarcament del Sud.

On this day in 1936, L'Union Vélocipédique de France published a new set of rules for bicycle polo - a sport that many of those who have begun playing during its recent resurgence in Britain don't realise goes back as far as 1891, the year that Irishman Richard J. Mecredy apparently invented it and when, in October, the first known match took place.

Other births: Enrico Paolini (Italy, 1945); Alessio Galletti (Italy, 1968, died 2005); Lucien Choury (France, 1898, died 1987); Martin Martinov (Bulgaria, 1950); Cliff Burvill (Australia, 1937); Tony Graham (New Zealand, 1962); José Sanchis (Spain, 1963); Edmond Luguet (France, 1886, died 1974); Roberto Calovi (Italy, 1963).

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