Just like so many British riders before and since, once he'd established himself as a potential great his next step was membership of the Athletic Club Boulogne Billancourt in Paris, the world's most famous amateur athletic club and one that has a long history of turning good riders into the very best. For some, there is an obvious similarity between Sherwen and the Angel of the Mountains Charly Gaul - not in looks, but in a shared ability to suffer far more than the average man without breaking. Sherwen showed signs of that ability when he came third in the 1977 Paris-Roubaix Cyclo, the amateur version of the hardest race of them all and which takes place on the same parcours, with the same cobbles designed for the iron-clad wheels of Napoleonic cannon and mining carts rather than for the spindly wheels of bicycles. His other results that same year were sufficient to win him second place in the Palme d'Or, another season-long competition, even though he'd spent a big chunk of the year in England sitting his exams.
1979 proved good practice for what happened five years later when he crashed in the first kilometre of Stage 10 - officially a hilly stage, but arguably deserving of mountainous classification. Then, he tried desperately to catch up, riding solo for more than six hours over six tough climbs, but could not; reaching the finish line more than an hour behind stage winner Jørgen Vagn Pedersen and a full 23 minutes beyond the maximum time. Once again, judges took note of his heroism and allowed him to race the next day. It was his last Tour.
Sherwen became National Road Race Champion in 1987, then retired. He has since returned to Africa and lives in Uganda, but retains an avid interest in cycling and is considered an authority on the subject. Alongside Phil Liggett, he provides cycling commentary for broadcasters the ITV in Britain, NBC and CBS Sports in the USA, SBS in Australia. He may never have won a stage at the Tour, but for fans on those three continents he is its voice.
|Matt Brammeier at the 2010 Tour of|
By 2006, he'd already made enough of a name for himself to get picked up by the UCI Continental class Driving Force Logistics-Cycling News-Litespeed team and was selected for the Welsh squad at that year's Commonwealth Games but failed to win a race that year, his best result being third place for a stage at the Tour of Siam. 2007 brought victory at the Under-23 National Individual Time Trial Championship, but then took a downturn in November when he was hit my a cement lorry during a training ride and left with two broken legs - an injury that had the potential to end his career just as it was really beginning to take off. Fortunately, his new Profel team was willing to keep him on the books while he recovered; in 2008 he returned to competition and won the Boom criterium in Belgium.
In 2009, Brammeier declared Irish nationality in order to be able to represent Ireland, also gaining a contract to ride with the well-respected An Post team run by Sean Kelly, and in 2010 he became Irish Road Race Champion after beating Nicolas Roche, who rode for the ProTeam AG2R-La Mondiale. The next year, Brammeier won the National Champion title for the road race and the individual time trial after he too would moved up to cycling's highest competitive level when he was taken on by the enormously successful HTC-Highroad, where he once again rode with Mark Cavendish. Highroad, despite being the first team to introduce anti-doping measures in addition to those required by the UCI and WADA, came to a sad end that year when sponsors told owner Bob Stapleton that they were pulling out due to the public's perceived association between professional cycling and drugs, leaving Brammeier and others looking for a new team. He was one of those who had little trouble in finding a new home, and went to the Belgian outfit Omega Pharma-QuickStep.
Brammeier has been romantically involved for some time with Nikki Harris, the Derbyshire-born track cyclist, mountain biker and cyclo cross rider who has held numerous National titles was once decribed by Transport for London as Britain's most promising young cyclist.
British mountain biker Oli Beckingsale was born in Bristol on this day in 1976 and became National Cross Country Champion in 2001 - a title he would win again in 2005, 2006 and 2007, as well as coming second in 2004 and 2008. He was also second at the 2006 Commonwealth Games
Yasutaka Tashiro, born in Tokyo on this day in 1974, won the Japanese National Road Race Championships in 2001 and 2004. He also got promising results in Asia and Europe, but only raced for six seasons until 2006. He now works for Bridgestone, the car parts manufacturer that sponsored the team with which he spent his entire cycling career.
Albert Zweifel, who was born in Rüti, Switzerland on this day in 1949, was World Cyclo Cross Champion in 1976-1979 and 1986, won the silver medal in 1975, 1982 and 1983 and the bronze in 1981 and 1984. During his seventeen year professional career, he also won the National Cyclo Cross Championship nine times (1976, 1977, 1979-1985) and entered the 1981 Tour de France, where he finished Stage 7 in seventh place.
Guido Fulst, a German cyclist born on this day in 1970, won the Tour du Loir-Et-Cher 'Edmond Provost' in 1989 and numerous National, World and Olympic titles on the track between 1987 and his retirement in 2008.
Percy Wyld, who was born on this day in 1907, was the younger sibling of Harry and Lewis Wyld, three brothers who rode alongside Frank Southall in the British Team Pursuit squad at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam.
Other births: Juanita Feldhahn (Australia, 1973); Ruber Marín (Colombia, 1968); Thor Porko (Finland, 1905, died 1977); Peter Kesting (Australia, 1955); Andreas Petermann (East Germany, 1957).