Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 18.04.12

Maurice Garin was the second winner of Paris-Roubaix, but
was he French or Italian at the time?
Paris-Roubaix took place on this date in 1897, 1949, 1971 and 1982. 1897 was the second edition ever held and the first of two to be won by Maurice Garin, who would also win the first Tour de France six years later (and he would have been credited with winning the second Tour too, if he hadn't been disqualified for cheating). Jules Rossi's 1937 win is usually said to have been the first by an Italian rider, but this might not in fact be the case: Garin had been born in Italy, sneaking into France with his family when he was still a child as what we now term an illegal immigrant. He later became naturalised French, but the year that he did so has never been proven beyond doubt - it could have been 1892, in which case the second and third editions of Paris-Roubaix were won by a Frenchman, but it might have been 1901, in which case they were won by an Italian. 1897 was also the first year in which we know for certain that the race was held on Easter Sunday - it had been scheduled to do so in 1896 but the Catholic Church took offence, pointing out that riders wouldn't have time to attend Mass before the race started and distributed notices in Roubaix outlining their opposition; so the race was postponed for two weeks. Considering the furore and the power the Church then held over people's everyday lives, it seems odd that the race went ahead on Easter Sunday only a year later.

André Mahé
(image credit: Veloptimum)
1949 saw the first use of bikes designed specifically for Paris-Roubaix, including an apparently anachronistic  return to wooden wheel rims which were more forgiving on the rough cobbles. Deciding the winner that year took several months and two conferences: André Mahé had been first over the line after reaching the velodrome in a three man breakaway with Frans Leenen and Jacques Moujica (the latter working so hard to keep up that he broke his bike), but it was subsequently discovered that an official had given them incorrect directions and they'd arrived via a shorter route. A few minutes after the declaration, Serse Coppi (brother of Fausto) arrived among another group and sprinted over the line. Mahé, speaking in 2007 (56 years after Serse and 47 years after Fausto had died), apparently still believed that he was the fair winner and appeared to suggest that Serse had initially accepted that result:
"It's too stupid to talk about. There was a break. Coppi attacked. His brother Fausto gave him a push to get him away. He wanted his brother to win. I waited a bit and then I attacked and I caught him and the break. Then I went off by myself. I was going to win Paris–Roubaix. It wasn't like nowadays, when there's television and everything. Then it was more chaotic and the whole road was blocked. People said I should have known the way into the track. But how do you know a thing like that at the end of Paris–Roubaix, when you've raced all day over roads like that? A gendarme signalled the way to go and that's the way I went.It was a journalist on a motorbike who managed to get up to me. He was shouting 'Not that way! Not that way!' And I turned round in the road and I rode back beneath the outside wall of the grandstand and I saw a gateway that went into the track, a gateway for journalists. And that's the way I went, except that it came out on the other side of the track from the proper entrance. The bunch came in and Serse won the sprint. But then his brother told Serse to go to the judges to object. He told Serse that I hadn't ridden the entire and precise course and that therefore I should be déclassé. But that was below him. Coppi wanted his brother to have a big victory. He was a great champion, Coppi, but to do what he did, to protest like that to get a victory for his brother, that wasn't dignified for a champion. That was below him. A champion like that should never have stooped that low."
By August, the UCI decided the best course of action was to simply declare the race null and without a winner. By November, the judges decided that the two men would share the victory, and it remains the only time that the race has been tied.

Jan Raas
(image credit: Cyclisme en Images)
1971 was won by Roger Rosiers, who seems little-remembered these days despite also winning Stage 17 at the Vuelta a Espana one year previously and the Tour of Luxembourg and Three Days of De Panne in the years afterwards. In 1982 the winner was Jan Raas, who had won Milan-San Rem in 1977 then a first Ronde van Vlaanderen in 1979 and another in 1983, the Omloop Het Volk in 1981 and Paris-Tours in 1978 and 1981, thus earning him a place among the greatest Classics specialists in history; five editions of the Amstel Gold Race and ten stages at the Tour de France also earning him a place among the most successful Dutch riders of all time. Bernard Hinault, probably France's greatest ever with the possible and arguable exception of Jacques Anquetil, returned to Paris-Roubaix in 1982 as defending champion but finished ninth and was furious (actually, le Blaireau was furious much of the time when racing; nowadays he's far more relaxed and merely simmers unless anybody gives him sufficient excuse for an explosion); refusing from then on to have anything whatsoever to do with the race that even when he won he'd called "bullshit." That year, the full 2.4km Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes to Sars-et-Rosières cobbled section was used for the first time, the initial 1.4km having been used two years earlier.

Briek Schotte
The Ronde van Vlaanderen was held on this day in 1948, when it was won for a second time by Briek Schotte, the rider who is considered by many Flemmish cycling fans to be the ultimate example of a Flandrien - that is, someone who continues to ride hard and fast, repeatedly attacking come what may. That year, a prize of 100 francs was provided for the Lanterne Rouge.

La Flèche Wallonne has also fallen on this date, as it did in 2001 - the 65th edition. The 198km course between Charleroi and Huy was short by modern standards, as since 2000 the race has averaged 199.5km. The winner was Rik Verbrugghe, who had been second the previous year. The 76th edition of the race will be held on this day in 2012.

The fourth edition of La Flèche Wallonne Féminine took place on this date in 2001 too, starting and finishing at the same points as the men's race but taking a different route to reduce it to 93km. The winner, Fabiana Luperini, had also won the first edition; and she would win again the following year - thus equalling the men's record of three victories. The 15th edition takes place on this date in 2012.

Maxim Iglinsky was born in Astana, Kazakhstan on this day in 1981 and has spent most of his professional career riding for the team named after his place of birth. He won the Kazakh Time Trial Championship in 2006, then the Road Race a year later before winning the Mountains Classification at the Tour de Suisse in 2008.

Luciano Pagliarini
(image credit: Thomas Fanghaenel CC BY-SA 3.0)
Luciano Pagliarini
Luciano Pagliarini is widely regarded as the most successful Brazilian cyclist of all time. Born in Ararpongas on this day in 1978, his first notable win was Stage 3 at the 1998 Vuelta Ciclista de Chile; followed five years later with victories for Stages 2, 3 and 4 at the Tour de Langkawi, then Stages 7 and 8 at Langkawi and Stage 5 at the Vuelta a Murcia in 2004. After abandoning the road race at the Olympics in 2004 when he experienced mechanical trouble, 2005 looked set to be his breakthrough year as he rode his first Tour de France and finished 5th in Stage 2 - however, he abandoned after Stage 9. 2007 started badly due to illness, but then less than two weeks after the birth of his first child he won Stage 5 at the Eneco Tour of the Benelux, thus becoming the first Brazilian to win a stage in a UCI ProTour event.

In 2008, he won Stage 6 at the Tour of Calfornia and was once again entered for the Olympics, but finished last in his event two days after being diagnosed with renal calculi (kidney stones). The following year was worse still as, soon after he'd signed a new contract with TelTech H2O, the team announced that it had not been granted a UCI licence and folded. After spending several months unable to race and putting on weight, he announced that he would stage a comeback at the Tour of Brazil and begin preparations for the 2012 Olympics. However, it was not to be: in the latest set-back of a career that somehow never quite took off despite coming so close on so many occasions, his new Scott-Marcondes Cesar-São José dos Campos found itself experiencing financial difficulties and, when it failed to pay him, Pagliarini decided he'd had enough and retired to become coach to the national track team.

Denis Verschueren was a Belgian rider born in Berlaar on the 11th of February in 1897. He won some excellent results during the 1920s and 1930s, including two National Interclubs Champioships (1926 and 1929), the Tour of Flanders in 1926, Paris-Brussels in 1926 and Paris-Tours in 1925 and 1928. He died at the age of 57 on this day in 1954.

Other births: Bernt Johansson (Sweden, 1953); Lucas Sebastián Haedo (Argentina, 1983); Imtiaz Bhatti (Pakistan, 1933); Frederick Hamlin (Great Britain, 1881, died 1951); Lenka Valová (Czechoslovakia, 1983); Kévin Sireau (France, 1987); Yevgeny Vakker (Kyrgyzstan, 1976); Leon Daelemans (Belgium, 1949); Vladimir Kaminsky (USSR, 1950); Frank Small (USA, 1895, died 1971); René Lotz (Netherlands, 1938); Milan Puzrla (Czechoslovakia, 1946); Joslyn Chavarria (Belize, 1959); Elio Juárez (Uruguay, 1942); Trevor Gadd (Great Britain, 1952).

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