|Angelo Gremo, 1914
1923 consisted of ten stages over 3,202km - eight of them won by Costante Girardengo, who had also won in 1919 and taken the third of his six Milan-San Remo victories and the seventh of his nine National Championships that year. In fifth place, finishing 45'49" behind Girardengo's time of 122h58'17", was a young man named Ottavio Bottecchia who was then an unknown independent rider. His success brought him to the attention of Henri Pélissier who arranged for him to receive an invite to join the Automoto-Hutchinson team with whom he would win the Tour de France for the next two consecutive years.
Andy Hampsten and the '88 Giro
|Andy Hampsten at the Tour de France, 1993
(image credit: Eric Houde CC BY-SA 3.0)
The weather had not improved the following day, which although organisers decided to drop the Stelvio Pass and shorten the stage to 83km left the riders in foul moods. Stage 16 was no better and included a climb up the 2,424m Timmelsjoch in Austria (known to the Italians as the Passo del Rombo). This time, however, the organisers would not shorten the stage, a decision that inspired two rider protests as the rain turned to snow on the way up the mountain. In the end, it was Stage 18, an 18km mountain time trial, that decided the race: Breukink was the better time trialer (he'd become Dutch National Champion nine years later), but Hampsten was by far the better climber - and since the stage climbed almost 1,000m at an average gradient of around 8.5%, he had a massive advantage. When he started the stage, he was 42" ahead of Breukink in the General Classification; then he finished the stage more than a minute ahead of his rival. His lead now all but insurmountable, he led the race to the end and finished with a lead of 1'43" - the first American and non-European to have won since the race began.
The 1993 Giro covered 3,703km in 22 stages. Miguel Indurain, who led the race in the last eight stages, won overall for a second and final time after facing down strong, repeated attacks from the Latvian Piotr Ugrumov.
It's not at all uncommon for mountain bikers to defect to road cycling, but the exchange tends to be one-way with few road cyclists moving into mountain biking. One of those that did is the Italian Giampaolo Cheula, who was born in Premosello-Chiovenda on this day in 1979. Having turned professional with Mapei-QuickStep in 2001, Cheula won some good results in his first couple seasons, then switched to Vini Caldirola and raced in the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana. He moved on to the British Barloworld squad in 2005, remaining with them for five seasons, picking up more good results and riding in two editions of the Tour de France and another Giro, then went to Footon-Servetto in 2010 and remained with them after the transformation into Geox-TMC and eventual demise in 2011.
Then, at the start of 2012, he announced that he would be changing to fat tyres and from that point onwards would be a mountain biker. "I am aware that the only common denominator between road and mountain biking are the two wheels, and are also aware that I worked so hard," he explained. "But the idea of starting from scratch appeals to me. I'm curious to see how I will adapt to the new discipline - and one thing's for sure, I'll put in the same effort and the same professionalism that I did for all those years on the road."
Cédric Gracia, born in Pau on this day in 1978, began cycle racing as a BMX rider when he was six years old. However, his first taste of professional sport would be as a freestyle skier and he didn't return to cycling until 2001 with the Volvo-Cannondale mountain biking team, initially and enjoying considerable success as a downhiller (twice taking silver at the World Championships) and, once the disciplines had been invented, 4X and Freeride. In 2010 he started his own team, the CG Racing Brigade, and for that year was its only member (which must surely be unique in cycling, as well as pushing the definition of the term "team" somewhat); it's since swelled in numbers with the addition of Colombian National Champion Marcelo Guttierez. Gracia's reputation is so great that the two riders were among the very few other than those in the Santa Cruz Syndicate to be supplied with the firm's factory V10 carbon fibre bikes.
Other births: Wim Stroetinga (Netherlands, 1985); Matthew Crampton (Great Britain, 1986); Lars Wahlqvist (Sweden, 1964); Mark Noble (Great Britain, 1963); Per Lyngemark (Denmark, 1941, died 2010); Valery Chaplygin (USSR, 1952); Didier Garcia (France, 1964); Beat Wabel (Switzerland, 1967); Gerrie Slot (Netherlands, 1954); Gabriel Cano (Mexico, 1965); Oleg Logvin (USSR, 1959); Julio Illescas (Guatemala, 1962).