Friday, 18 May 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 18.05.12

Carlo Galetti
The Giro d'Italia started on this date nine times; in 1910, 19351957, 1958, 1966, 1970, 1973, 1990 and 1996 - more than any other date It also ended on this date in 1939, making it the earliest date upon which the race has both started and ended. 1910, which covered 2,984km in ten stages, was the second edition and was won by Carlo Galetti, who has been second in the first edition. It could very easily have gone otherwise - for a start, Jean-Baptiste Dortignacq looked to be in with an excellent chance of becoming the first French winner after storming ahead in Stage 2. The Italian riders formed themselves into a pan-team alliance against him, but he was stronger than they thought and continued to challenge the race leadership. Until, that is, Stage 4; when he became suddenly and violently ill. The police suspected he'd been deliberately poisoned and found enough evidence to support their theory for 20 riders to be thrown out of the race. Galetti led for the last nine stages, but he too had misfortune - in the final stage, he crashed into hay wagon and suffered bad cuts and bruises. However, with the finish line at Milan not too far away, he got back on his bike and carried on; finishing fifth for the stage but first overall. 101 riders started but only 20 finished.

Vasco Bergamaschi
1935 included 18 stages and covered 3,577km. It was a pivotal year with one Great Age of Cycling giving way to another, for this was Alfredo Binda's last Giro and Gino Bartali's first. Binda's best days were long gone, but he rode well and took second place on four stages and finished 16th overall. Bartali, who was brand new and the lowliest of domestiques, electrified the race when he won Stage 6 and came seventh overall, 9'46" behind race winner Vasco Bergamaschi - who is all but forgotten today.

Fausto Coppi was the favourite for the 1957 edition which covered 3,926km in 21 stages, but he broke his leg in a crash in Sardinia before the race and was unable to start. That left Lousion Bobet, Charly Gaul and Ercole Baldini looking the likely victors, but all three were taken by surprise by the chain-smoking Gastone Nencini. Nencini was known as a good all-rounder who could hold his own in the mountains, but the real ace in his hand was the way he descended - gravity seemed to have a stronger hold over him than anyone else and he plummeted like a hawk. What's more, he had courage in spades and took steep downhill bends at full speed while his rivals would be grabbing the brakes. Gaul took the lead in Stage 16 after Bobet and Nino Defilippis had dominated for much of the race, but after three races it was wrestled out of his hands and Nencini kept it to the end.

Baldini won in 1958, taking 92h09'30" to complete the 20 stages and 3,341km with two summit finishes in the Dolomites proving decisive - he also won the National and World Road Race titles that year. 1966 saw the introduction of a Points competition, won by Gianni Motta who would also be fastest over the 22 stages and 3,976km to win the General Classification too. Italo Zilioli came second for a third consecutive year, which earned him the nickname The Italian Poulidor - Poulidor having come second to Anquetil so many times. Anquetil, meanwhile, was third; an unmistakable sign that his best days were over.

Merckx
(image credit: Nationaal Archief, public domain)
Just four years later, there was a new king: after the controversy of 1969 when he was disqualified after providing a positive sample (still disputed by him and the official in charge), Eddy Merckx came back for 1970, took the leadership in Stage 7 and kept it all the way to the end for his second victory. He would win three more General Classifications - equalling the record set by Alfredo Binda and Fausto Coppi, 24 stages and spend a total of 76 days in the lead (a record). There were 20 stages that year, covering a parcours of 3,292km and the Points competition's red jersey changed to mauve, taking the name Maglia Ciclamino - it would change back to red (the Maglia Rosso Passione) in 2010. Merckx won his fourth edition in 1973 after 3,801km, a time trial and 20 stages; leading the race through all of them. The Vuelta a Espana had been held between the 26th of April and the 13th of May that year, and Merckx had won that too - the first rider to win both races in a single season.

The 1990 edition covered 3,450km in 21 stages. Winner Gianni Bugno duplicated Merckx's domination, leading the race from start to end; a feat that only they, Costante Girardengo (1919) and Alfredo Binda (1927) have managed. 1996 covered 3,990km in 22 stages and was won by Pavel Tonkov, the second Russian rider to take the victory.


At a press conference in Brussels on this day in 1978, Eddy Merckx told his audience:
"I am living the most difficult day of my life. I can no longer prepare myself for the Tour de France, which I wanted to ride for a final time as a farewell . After consulting my doctors, I've decided to stop racing."
With that, he ended that most remarkable career in the history of cycling, and a new era began.

Niki Terpstra
Niki Terpstra
(image credit: Thomas Ducroquet CC BY 3.0)
Niki Terpstra, who was born in Beverwijk, Netherlands, on this day in 1984, gave all the signs of being destined for a career on the track when he first appeared in the cycling world back in 2004. He won a few road races prior to 2007, but three National titles for the Scratch and one each for Madison and Points suggested he was going to ride the boards. However, that year he also won the Mountains Classification at the Tour of Germany and revealed himself to have more than one string to his bow.

In 2008, he was 4th overall at the Three Days of De Panne and won the Combativity Award for Stage 13 at the Tour de France, then a year later he won a stage at the Criterium du Dauphine. In 2010, he took a sixth National Championship, this time in the Road Race, and was third at the Dwars door Vlaanderen. By now, it was obvious that his future lay on the road; as he proved in 2012 by winning the Dwars. He remains a talented track rider, meanwhile, winning the 2011 Amsterdam Six Days with Iljo Keisse.

Sean Yates
Sean Yates was born in Ewell, Great Britain, on this day in 1960 and represented his nation in the 1980 Olympics, where he was sixth in the 4km Individual Pursuit. Seeking a career on the road, he travelled to France where like so many prospective riders from Britain and outside Europe he joined the famous Athletic Club de Boulogne-Billancourt; a wise move as only two years later (in 1982, when he was also second at the National Road Race Championship) he was invited to turn professional with Peugeot where he rode alongside Stephen Roche - who would become Ireland's first Tour de France winner and the second man to win the Triple Crown (the Tour, the Giro d'Italia and the World Championship in a single season - the other man to win it was, of course, Eddy Merckx) - and the legendary Scottish climber Robert Millar, the only Briton to have won the King of the Mountains at the Tour (and the Giro),

Sean Yates
(image credit: YellowMonkey/Blnguyen CC BY-SA 3.0)
In 1988, Yates moved on to Fagor and then to 7-Eleven the next year, then Motorola in 1991 where he rode with a young Lance Armstrong, remaining with them for the rest of his racing years. 1994 was his best year, despite a stage win at the Tour in 1988, because he became the third British rider to lead the Tour de France. Unfortunately, his results overall were not good and he was 71st in the General Classification when the race ended, far short of his 45th place in 1988. All in all, he would ride in twelve Tours; but although he climbed well for a man with his powerful physique he was outclassed by the dedicated grimpeurs in the high mountains.

Yates retired in 1996 but remained a part of the cycling world, becoming involved with the administration of numerous teams beginning with Linda McCartney, which would collapse in 2001, then the ill-fated Australian iteamNova outfit that looked all set to take on the world before running out of money and dying. Fortunately, Armstrong remembered him and took him on as a manager at Discovery following a short spell with CSC-Tiscali (which would later become Team SaxoBank); though he remained with Discovery for only a year before going to Astana. In 2009 he found his natural management home with the announcement of Sky, a British team that set out to do what he, Millar, Simpson and so many others from the ACBB had tried - propel a British rider to the top step of the Tour de France podium. He remains with Sky to this day. While he enjoyed some success in racing after his time as a professional, including becoming 50-mile TT Champion in 1997, Yates now has to limit himself to unchallenging events due to heart irregularities.


Erin Mirabella, born in Racine on this day in 1978, is an American track cyclist who has won six National titles and three events at the PanAmerican Cycling Championships.

Kate Bates, born in Sydney on this day in 1982, has held five National (2005 - Individual Pursuit, Scratch, Points; 2006 - Scratch, Points) and one World Championship (2007 - Points) titles. She retired during December 2011 following a hip injury sustained in a crash during her time with HTC-Highroad - an unfortunate end to a career from which she had planned to retire after the 2012 Olympics.

Other births: Jacques van Meer (Netherlands, 1958); Kiyofumi Nagai (Japan, 1983); Michael Maue (West Germany, 1960); John Trevorrow (Australia, 1949); Jimena Florit (Argentina, 1972); Cuauthémoc Muñoz (Mexico, 1961); Alberto Minetti (Italy, 1957); Miguel Samacá (Colombia, 1946); Romulo Bruni (Italy, 1871, died 1939); Martin Riška (Slovakia, 1975); Omar Enrique Pumar (Venezuela, 1972); Gary Dighton (Great Britain, 1968); Katsuhiko Sato (Japan, 1943); Dzintars Lācis (USSR, 1940, died 1992); Lothar Thoms (East Germany, 1956).

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