Saturday, 2 June 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 02.06.2012

Pascale Jeuland
Jeuland (dark blue) and Giorgia Bronzini
Pascale Jeuland, born in Rennes on this day in 1997, is one of France's best-known female road and track cyclists and has spent her entire professional career to date with the Vienne Futurscope team. Her first notable successes came in 2004 when she won the National Junior Pursuit Championship, then retained it and added the Points the following year, a well as winning two silver medals and a bronze at the European Championships. In 2006, she moved up into the Elite class and won bronze for the 500m and silver for the pursuit at the Nationals.

In 2007, Jeuland became Elite National Points Champion, a title she won again in 2008 and 2009, and made her first mark in road racing with second place in the Calan criterium (won by team mate and older sister Nathalie). A silver medal in the Under-23 European Championships and third place in the Gran Prix de France International Féminin road race came in 2008, then gold at the National Pursuit  and World Scatch Championships in 2010 along with good results at the Tour of Qatar and GP Ciudad de Valladolid. In 2011, she concentrated on track but was 6th at Tielt-Winge, beating Amy Pieters, Liesbet de Vocht, Elisa Longo Borghini and several other names from the very top level of women's cycling, and in 2012 she took second place at the GP Cholet-Pays de Loire when she beat Emilie Moberg, Maaike Polspoel and 31 others in a final sprint.

Tyler Farrar
Born in Wenatchee, USA on this day in 1984, Tyler Farrar began racing at the age of 13 and showed enormous potential whilst still a young amateur, winning the Junior National Championship titles for Individual Pursuit, Team Pursuit and Olympic Sprint, the Tour L-Abitibi (along with Stage 4) and the Three Days of Axel in 2002. Unsurprisingly, these victories showed up on team radar and he turned professional with Jelly Belly for 2003, repaying them by winning the Four Bridges of Albin and a Madison world cup qualification round.

Tyler Farrar, 2011
In 2004, he signed to HealthNet-Maxxis and won Stage 7 at the Tour de l'Avenir, a race designed to reveal young riders who have may have the potential to distinguish themselves in the Grand Tours - which he confirmed when he won Stage 2 the next year, also becoming National Criterium Champion and earning an invitation to move up a gear and ride with Cofidis. As is often the case when a rider makes the jump to the top level (Cofidis, since relegated to Pro Continental status, were then a Pro Tour team), his first year with them was quiet and passed without wins while he concentrated on upping his performance; then in 2007 he won a stage at the GP CTT Correios de Portugal before leaving for Slipstream-Chipotle, the team that would become Garmin-Barracuda and where he remains to the present day.

With Garmin, Farrar has developed from a promising hopeful to one of the most successful sprinters of his generation with a number of Grand Tour stage wins and excellent results in other races to his name. The first of those came in 2009 when he won the Vattenfall Cyclassics, Stages 1, 2 and 4 at the Eneco Tour, Stage 3 at Tirreno-Adriatico, Stages 1, 2 and the Points competition at the Circuit Franco-Belge, the prologue, Points competition, Young Rider category and General Classification at the Delta Tour Zeeland, six top five finishes at the Tour de France and - the icing on a very satisfactory cake - Stage 11 at the Vuelta a Espana. 2010 brought more Grand Tour victories - this time, he added first place for Stages 5 and 21 at the Vuelta to the Stages 2 and 10 he'd won at the Giro d'Italia earlier in the year, as well as revealing himself to have what it takes for the Classics when he was fifth in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. In 2011, Farrar decided to join Leopard Trek in withdrawing from the Giro following the death of his friend Wouter Weylandt. Later, Garmin won the Stage 2 team time trial at the Tour, then he won Stage 3 as well before adding three more top five places.

Farrar in 2008
There is little doubt that, had Farrar have been born in any other era, he'd almost certainly have been hailed as the fastest man in the peloton and would have dominated sprint finishes - however, his career has coincided with that of Mark Cavendish, perhaps the only man in the history of cycling with an ability to consistently sprint ever faster. It's little surprise, then, that the two have not always seen eye-to-eye - after Stage 15 at the 2011 Tour, Farrar seemed dubious (in front of US TV news cameras) if Cav's powers of recovery might be down to something other than natural talent, but later said "I should have kept my mouth shut."

In 2012, Farrar was second at Scheldeprijs - another excellent Flanders Classic result that, combined with his friendship with and respect for Weylandt, his fluent Dutch and decision to make his home in Ghent has won him the love of the Flemish fans.

Early days with Vibor
Roberto Visentini
Born in Gardone Rivera on this day in 1957, made it clear while he was still a teenager that he was going to be a great cyclist when he  won the Junior National and World Championships in 1975. Two years later, he was third overall at the Tour de l'Avenir, and the year after that - his first as a professional, riding for Vibor - he took second place for three stages and was 15th overall at the Giro d'Italia, which also earned him the Young Rider victory.

In 1979, having moved onto the CBM Fast team that would last just one season Visentini was 10th overall at the Giro and won the Elite National Pursuit Championship on the track, then in 1980 he was 9th at the Giro and won the Prologue and Stage 16 at the Vuelta a Espana and a year later upped his Giro performance to 6th, making it apparent that, sooner or later, he was probably going to win a Grand Tour - as would have been the case in 1983 had Giuseppe Saronni not pulled out all the stops and ridden the race of his life to take first. In 1984, he won another stage at the Giro, then abandoned so as not to ruin his chances in his first Tour de France, where he seemed to find himself out of his depth, finishing Stage 7 in 7th place and snatching a handful of other good placings, but in general finishing outside the top 50 before abandoning in Stage 14. The 1985 Giro got off to a better start with second place in the Prologue, but then fell ill and abandoned: a crushing blow, as he had promised the tifosi he'd win - but less crushing than the defeat he'd almost certainly have suffered at the hands of Bernard Hinault, who won. Later that year, he once again found that the Tour operates on an entirely different level to all other races and could only manage 49th overall.

1986 was his year. The competition at the Giro was tough, with Saronni, Francesco Moser and Greg Lemond all in absolute peak physical condition, each of them also displaying that mysterious related-yet-other quality excellent form too - especially Lemond, who had come second at the Tour the previous year and was the easy favourite to win this race. Luck was on Visentini's side, however; Lemond and Moser lost time in crashes and, while Saronni took the lead in Stage 6 and kept it to Stage 15, gradually things came together for Visentini and he crept up the leadership tables, then donned the maglia rosa for Stage 16. From that point onwards, he rode intelligently and without unnecessary risk, making sure he retained a sufficient lead to not lose everything in the Stage 18 individual time trial where he knew Moser would beat him.

Visentini in 1987, the year of the infamous
Marmalade Massacre
Visentini might have won a second Giro in 1987, had he not have become involved in a clash of personalities with team mate Stephen Roche - a clash that led to one of the most notorious incidents in the history of professional cycling, the Marmalade Massacre. Visentini arrived at the race with every intention of winning and looked more than capable of doing so in the Prologue and Stage 1a, but Roche beat him the Stage 1b individual time trial and then took the leadership when their Carrera Jeans-Vagabond won the Stage 3 team time trial. In Stage 13, by which time Visentini was again in the lead, Roche was ordered to ride for him by team management, but chose to ignore it. Instead, he attacked his leader throughout the stage, the savage onslaught regaining him the GC leadership.

Roche incurred the wrath of the tifosi for ever more, but earned the eternal friendship of many others - especially as he'd pulled off the Massacre with virtually no support, Eddy Schepers being the only team member who took his side against Visentini. Instead, he enlisted the aid of old friends Millar and Phil Anderson (both with Panasonic-Isostar, but with whom he had ridden when the trio were first trying to break into European cycling with the legendary Athletic Club de Boulogne-Billancourt). Millar and Anderson broke ranks and joined forces with Schepers, then encircled Roche on the ascent of Marmaloda, protecting him from attacks and ensuring that he finished with a time sufficient to guarantee his victory. A few days later, Visentini crashed. His injuries were not major, but with his spirit crushed he abandoned the race

Michał Kwiatkowski, born in Poland on this day in 1990, turned professional in 2009 for MG Kvis-Norda Pacific after winning the European Junior TT Championship in 2008, then joined Caja Rural for 2010 and made his way into the upper echelons with RadioShack in 2011. At the end of that season, he was one of the riders whose contracts were not renewed to make room for those from Leopard Trek when the two teams merged to form RadioShack-Nissan and he moved on to Omega Pharma-QuickStep. Kwiatkowski's best professional result to date was third place overall at the 2010 Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen - he won the prologue at the same race in 2011 and again in 2012, when he also finished 10th on Stage 6 at the Giro d'Italia.

Kurt Hovelijnck, born in Eeklo, Belgium on this day in 1981, achieved numerous good results in races at home and in France between 1999 and 2007, when he took third place in Stage 6 at the Tour of Britain. 2008 and 2009 were quieter, then his career was nearly brought to an end when his rear wheel collapsed during a training run and left him critically ill with a fractured skull. Fortunately, he made a full recovery and returned to racing the following year; then once again began achieving excellent results.

Janez Zakotnik, born in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia on this day in 1950, won the Istrian Spring Trophy a record four times - 1971, 1971, 1974 and 1977. Now a UCI 2.2 race that attracts an international field, when Zakotnik won it was a small, regional race reserved for local riders and little-known on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

Other births: Wojciech Matusiak (Poland, 1945 - winner of the 1969 Tour of Poland); Lee Seon-Bae (South Korea, 1939); Aleksandr Perov (USSR, 1955); Rino De Candido (Italy, 1954); Rostislav Vargashkin (USSR, 1933); Manuel Riquelme (Chile, 1912); Xavier Isasa (Spain, 1966); Csaba Pálinkás (Hungary, 1959); Bohdan Bondarev (USSR, 1974).

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