1975 saw Eddy Merckx win for a second time, but provided evidence that this race was punishing even by his standards - his first victory had been six years earlier and, despite riding hard in between, he had been roundly defeated (and would be again, by Walter Planckaert in 1976). This time, though, he won by 30" - but it was his last Ronde victory. When the race was next run on this date, in 1986, it was won by Adrie van der Poel; son-in-law to France's favourite rider Raymond Poulidor. It was another difficult race with just 40 finishers from 195 starters. Ireland's Seán Kelly was second, having finished in the same position two years earlier. 1997 brought the first win by a Danish rider, Rolf Sørensen. Sørensen is now a sports manager and, among others, has Team Sky's Juan Antonio Flecha on his books - a rider whom many (including us) expect to see win the Ronde, Paris-Roubaix or both within the next few years. The Tenbosse made its first appearance that year: climbing from 45m to 73m, it reaches a maximum gradient of 14%.
(image credit: James F. Perry CC BY-SA 3.0)
Stijn Devolder won in 2008, the first of two victories to date with the second coming the following year. The winner of the Ronde voor Vrouwen in 2008 was Germany's Judith Arndt.
Vera Carrara, who was born in Alzano Lombardo, Italy on this day in 1980, began her competitive cycling career with the amateur G.S. Valoti Arredamenti club when she was seven years old and won the World Points Race Championship in 1998. She became European Under-23 Pursuit Champion four years later, then World Points Champion at Elite level in both 2005 and 2006. Since then, she has also performed well on road; winning Stage 5 at the 2006 Holland Ladies' Tour, the National Time Trial title in 2007, 1st place at the GP Rund um Visp criterium in 2008 and 2nd place in the Prologue at the 2008 Giro Donne.
Robin Seymour, a former motorcycle racer born in Wicklow, Ireland on this day in 1971, turned to cycling in the early 1990s and soon began to excel. In 1991, he won the National Cyclo Cross Championship - and retained the title until 2003, then won it back in 2005, 2006 and 2011. He has also dominated Irish mountain biking, winning the National Championship an incredible eighteen consecutive times between 1993 and 2010. It is largely due to Seymour and the points he amassed that the Irish National Team was able to compete at the Olympics in 1996, 2000 and 2004.
Other births: Mads Christensen (Denmark, 1984); Mohd Sayuti Mohd Zahit (Malaysia, 1984); Catherine Cheatley (New Zealand, 1983); Víctor Niño (Colombia, 1973); Bianco Bianchi (Italy, 1917, died 1997); Aivaras Baranauskas (Lithuania, 1980); Dag Hopen (Norway, 1961); Javier Aldanondo (Spain, 1967); Richard Rozendaal (Netherlands, 1972); Herbert Spindler (Austria, 1954); Bill Bailey (Great Britain, 1888, died 1971);