Anquetil was widely expected to win 1967, too; especially since Italy's best hope Felice Gimondi was racked with bronchitis on the start line - and the tifosi all but forgot their dreams as he failed to keep up with the high pace in the first few stages. Yet, he kept going and in time began to feel a little better, then won Stage 19. - although there had been such blatant, widespread cheating with fans pushing the Italian riders (including Gimondi) up the mountains that even the notoriously patriotic judges agreed they would have to disallow the results and annul the stage. Realising, perhaps, that he now had a serious rival, Anquetil pulled out all the stops the next day and took over the General Classification. Now, however, Gimondi was fully recovered and determined to win; with superhuman effort, he clawed his way to the top and took the leadership, then retained it to overall victory three stages later in Milan, 3,572km from the start line. For the first time that year, the leader of the Points competition was awarded a red jersey. It was a change that can be seen as symbolic of greater changes in cycling, because a new era was just beginning - both Anquetil and Gimondi couldn't fail to notice that two of the 23 stages and 9th place overall had gone to a rider who was taking part for the very first time that year, a young Belgian named Eddy Merckx.
|Gösta Pettersson, the only Swede to|
have won a Giro
1977 saw the Belgian Freddy Maertens lead the General Classification for the first six stages and win seven in total, which some fans (especially Belgian ones) apparently considered a more impressive achievement than the overall victory - he'd almost certainly have won the Points competition as a result, but a crash 100m from the finish line in Stage 8b forced him to abandon. Francesco Moser was a favourite for the GC and his success seemed all but inevitable after he took the race leadership in Stage 5 and kept it until Stage 17, when Michel Pollentier (another Belgian) wrested it away from him. However, Italy didn't worry unduly: the 29km time trial at Binago (Stage 21) may as well have been specifically in order that Moser could thrash his rivals, so ideally did the parcours suit his skills. Everybody knew that he was going to win it by an enormous margin. Of course, irony stepped in at this point and saw to it that it was in fact Pollentier who won the stage, and the General Classification. One year later, Pollentier's reputation and career were in tatters after he became the second rider to be caught using a pipe connected to a condom containing somebody else's urine that he had hidden under his armpit, which allowed him to produce a sample of "clean" urine at the anti-doping control (he was caught through sheer bad luck, in fact: the rider just before him had an identical system, but it became blocked, possibly as a result of sabotage, and the doctor, having spotted the pipe as he fiddled with it, demanded that Pollentier pull up his jersey to see if he had one too), so we can probably assume that irony was not the only factor in his time trial win. It's perhaps not quite as unfair as it first seems, meanwhile - if Moser was riding clean that day, it was probably the only race of his professional career in which he did so.
Road and track cyclist Isaac Gálvez, who was born in Vilanova i la Geltrú, Spain on this day in 1975, was twice World Madison Champion(1999 and 2006) and won numerous stages in road races including the Volta a Catalunya and Critérium International.
During the Six Days of Ghent in 2006, Gálvez was involved in a collision with the Belgian rider Dimitri de Fauw which sent him into the railings, hitting them hard enough to suffer massive internal bleeding that killed him early the next day. He was 31 and had been married for three weeks. Following his death, de Fauw suffered deep depression and, three weeks before the second anniversary of the incident, committed suicide.
Born in Nairobi, Kenya on this day in 1985, Chris Froome moved to South Africa as a teenager and became interested in mountain biking, then road racing and began to show talent as a climber and time trial rider which led to his selection for the Kenyan team at the 2006 World Championships (where he got himself known by colliding with a UCI course official). He turned professional with the South Africa-registered Team Konica Minolta a year later but was then invited to join Barloworld in 2008, racing with a British licence as his father was born in Britain. With them, he entered his first Tour de France in 2009 and came 84th overall but 12th in the Youth Classification, indication that he had great potential, then in 2009 he was 36th overall and 7th in the Youth at the Giro d'Italia. Froome was one of the first riders to be announced for the new Team Sky in 2009 - he is still with them at the time of writing.
Giovanni Gerbi, winner of the first Giro di Lombardia, was born in Piedmont on this day in 1885. Always racing in a red jersey and his dare-devil attitude earned him the nickname Il Diavolo Rosso. Considered one of the pioneers of Italian competitive cycling, he bought his first bike in 1900 with money he'd earned doing odd jobs and that very same year finished his first three races in third place, then won his fourth - the 95km, now long-defunct Asti-Moncalieri. Realising he could make a living on the bike, he moved to Milan and began racing against the likes of Carlo Galetti, who would win the second and third editions of the Giro d'Italia, supporting himself by working as a baker until 1902 when he won the amateur Coppa del Re and received an invitation to turn professional with Maino.
After winning Milan-Turin in 1903, Gerbi entered the second ever Tour de France but was one of the many riders who failed to finish. He also rode the first Giro d'Italia in 1909, but abandoned after a crash in the early stages left with an insurmountable disadvantage. He entered again in 1920, but was disqualified for riding a bike with - of all things - a sidecar attached to it.
A few years after his retirement, Gerbi returned in veteran competition and continued winning races, including two editions of La Coppa Guerra, and set a veteran's hour record at the Vigorelli velodrome. According to legend, he was once mistaken during a race for the real devil by a priest.
Laurent Dufaux, born in Montreux, Switzerland on this day in 1969, became National Road Race Champion in 1991won the Critérium du Dauphiné in 1993 and 1994, was twice fourth overall at the Tour de France (1996 and 1999, he was also ninth overall in 1997) and second overall at the 1996 Vuelta a Espana.
Noted as an excellent climber, Dufaux rode alongside Richard Virenque with Festina; the two men forming a highly-effective partnership in the high mountains of the Grand Tours. He doped alongside Virenque, too, but whereas Virenque first denied the charges and then tearfully blamed everyone and everything but himself, Dufaux had the good sense to know when the game was up and confessed to using EPO. As a result, Virenque's case span out for more than two years until he was eventually banned, fined and then had enormous difficulty in finding a team that would have anything to do with him (Domo-Farm Frites would, but only when Eddy Merckx promised to provide a big chunk of cash towards his keep), whereas Dufaux served a relatively light six-month suspension and was racing with Saeco early in the following season.
Katie Cullen, born in Edinburgh on this day in 1977, had no interest in cycling until she was assigned the task of producing a velodrome blueprint while she studied for her architecture degree. Visiting the example in Manchester to investigate which features a velodrome should have, she found that she was becoming fascinated by the racing - and became hooked when she was given a chance to ride around the track. In 2005, she won the first of her four National Championship titles.
Other births: Marco van der Hulst (Netherlands, 1963); Michael Allen (USA, 1935); Armando Latini (Italy, 1913); Robert Karśnicki (Poland, 1972); Gintautas Umaras (USSR, 1963); Robert Bouloux (France*, 1947); Norman Webster (Canada, 1896, died 1967); Noé Medina (Ecuador, 1943); Andreas Walzer (Germany, 1970); René Bianchi (France, 1934); Wiesław Podobas (Poland, 1936); Armando Castillo (Guatemala, 1932, died 2006); Lado Fumic (West Germany, 1976); Imants Bodnieks (USSR, 1941).
*Fortunately, for him. You would not want to go through the British school system with that surname.