Sunday, 8 April 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 08.04.12

Can you be any more French?
Hippolyte Aucouturier, 1903
Paris-Roubaix was held on this date in 1903, 1920, 1928, 1951, 1956, 1979, 19841990 and 2012. In 1903, it was won for the first time by Hippolyte Aucouturier, who would become the third man to win for two consecutive years in 1904. In 1920, the finish line was hosted for the first time at the Stadium Jean Dubrulle in Roubaix, where Belgian professional carpet maker Paul Deman was first across.

The 1928 edition was won by André Leducq, who would finish that year's Tour de France in 2nd place, then win in 1930 and 1932. 1951 was won by Antonio Bevilacqua who was World Pursuit Champion at the time. 1956 was won by Louison Bobet, going some way towards killing off the "Crybaby" nickname he'd been given by other riders of his day because crybabies do not survive - never mind win - Paris-Roubaix.

1979 brought the second of Francesco Moser's record-equaling three consecutive wins and saw the first use of five cobbled sections: the 1.4km Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes to Sars-et-Rosières, the 1.7km Orchies Chemin des Prières and Chemin des Abattoirs, the 1.2km Auchy-lez-Orchies to Bersee, the 1.8km Camphin-en-Pévèle with it's muddy right corner which has become infamous as one of the most challenging points on the parcours and the 2.1km Camphin-en-Pévèle to Carrefour de l'Arbre, now rated the second most dangerous section after the Trouée d'Arenberg and the section where the race has often been won or lost.

Tom Boonen
(image credit: Tete de la Course CC BY-SA 2.0)
1984 saw the return of the Trouée d'Arenberg, which had been closed by the Office National des Fôrets in 1974 and not used since the previous year and the first win by an Irish rider, Sean Kelly, who would win again two years later. 1990 was won by Eddy Planckaert, his second Monument after winning the Ronde van Vlaanderen in 1988.

In 2012, the Belgian rider Tom Boonen scored a superb victory after riding the last 50km solo and gradually building up a lead from that point onwards. By doing so, he equalled Roger de Vlaeminck's record of four victories and, having already won the E3 Harelbeke, Gent–Wevelgem and the Ronde van Vlaanderen in the same year (all of them falling within a 17-day period and the only rider to have ever done so), confirmed his status as the best Classics rider of his generation and one of the best of all time.

Alessandro Ballan
(image credit: Sławek CC BY-SA 2.0
The Ronde van Vlaanderen took place on this day in 2001 and 2007. 2001 was won by Gianluca Bortolami, who set the fastest ever average speed at 43.580kph when he took 6h10'23" to complete the 269km parcours and rode intelligently, making maximum use of the rivalry and lack of co-operation between the race favourites. Two years later, Bortolami tested positive for cortisone at the Driedaagse van De Panne on the 2nd of April and was later banned for six months.

The 2007 victory went to the Italian Alessandro Ballan - a breakaway group formed within the first 30km and led for much of the race before being caught by the peloton as they approached the Muur van Geraardsbergen with its maximum gradient of 19.8%. Ballan chose the Muur as the location for his final, decisive attack; knowing that favourite Tom Boonen was suffering after an earlier crash and would be unable to respond. Only Leif Hoste could remain with him to the end, but Ballan - who looks like a climber but excels as a sprinter - was marginally faster to the line.

Nicole Cooke - the second British rider to win
a Monument
(image credit: Gsl CC BY-SA 2.5)
British fans often complain at the lack of British success in the Monuments, moaning that other than Tom Simpson's three victories back in the 1960s (the Ronde in 1961, Milan-San Remo in 1964 and the Giro di Lombardia in 1965), the only chance they've had to celebrate was Mark Cavendish's 2009 Milan-San Remo triumph. However, they're forgetting - or, more likely, are completely ignorant - that Britain has in fact has a rider who won a Monument two years before Cav won his his: Nicole Cooke, the Swansea-born rider who is one of Great Britain's most successful athletes of all time and who won the Ronde van Vlaanderen voor Vrouwen in 2007.

Walter Planckaert - the winner of the 1976 Tour of Flanders, the Dwaars door Vlaanderen in 1977 and 1984 and 71 other races during his professional career - was born in Nevele, Belgium on this day in 1948. His older brother Willy won the Points competition at the 1966 Tour de France and a Dwaars door Vlaanderen of his own a decade later, younger brother Eddy won numerous Grand Tour stages, the Tour of Flanders in 1988 and Paris-Roubaix on this day in 1990.

Julián Berrendero
Julián Berrendero, born in San Agustín del Guadalix, Spain on this day in 1912, won the third and fourth editions of the Vuelta a Espana in 1941 and 1942. In 1936, he won the King of the Mountains at the Tour de France after wearing the polka dot jersey for 13 stages; then won Stage 15 one year later. In addition to his two Vuelta General Classification victories, he won the Mountains Classification in 1942 and 1945 and a total of eleven stages in six years. He also held the title of National Road Race Champion from 1942 to 1944 and National Cyclo Cross Champion in 1944. Berrendero died in Madrid on the 1st of August, 1995.

The 2003 Norwegian Road Race Champion Gabriel Rasch, who was born in Hole on this day in 1976, has spent his entire professional career riding with his countryman Thor Hushovd, whom he credits with helping him take the step up to the Pro Teams. However, he was unable to move with Hushovd to BMC for the 2012 season.

Aleksejs Saramotins
(image credit: Ralf Seger
CC BY-SA 3.0)
Latvian Aleksejs Saramotins, who was born on this day in 1982, became National Road Race Champion in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010.

Maarten Ducrot, born in Vlissingen, Netherlands on this day in 1958, entered five Tours de France and finished four - in 1985, he won Stage 9 and received the Combativity Award. Since 2004, he has been a cycling commentator on Dutch television and - with former professionals Steven Rooks and Peter Winnen - confessed on the Reporter show that he had doped; using cortisone, testosterone and Synacthen, a drug that stimulates the adrenal glands and which he called "a very bad medicine."

Melcior Mauri, born in Vic, Spain on this day in 1966, won the 1991 Vuelta a Espana. Since retiring from road cycling, he ha competed in mountain biking events and won the Moroccan Titan Desert Race in 2007.

Other births: Mauro da Dalto (Italy, 1981); Medhadi Al-Dosari (Saudi Arabia, 1976); Kim Gwang-Seon (South Korea, 1946); Dick Paris (Australia, 1942); Luís Sepúlveda (Chile, 1974); Tim Peddie (USA, 1970); Alain Bondue (France, 1959); Pedro Sánchez (Colombia, 1940); Pete Loncarevich (USA, 1966).

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