Saturday, 16 June 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 16.06.12

Bike Week begins in Britain today! For more details, click here.

Gina Grain
Gina Grain
Gina Grain, born in Lachine, Quebec on this day in 1974, rode with number of Canadian and US road racing teams between 1999 and 2010 in addition to spending a season with the Hong Kong-registered Giant ProCycling in 2006. Her athletic career, as is the case with many female cyclists, began with other sports; but while at school the tore the ligaments in one knee while skiing and then two weeks later in the other while playing basketball. She also played soccer and had dreamed of one day representing her country at the Olympics.

Now that her dreams were shattered and all three sports were so painful she had to give them up, she turned to working out in the gym where she would spend hours on a stationary bike. One day, completely on a whim - she says she has no idea why she did it - she borrowed a mountain bike from a friend, hit the trails and fell in love. In 1995, she took out her first racing licence and continued racing while studying for her BSc. (when she started at university, she also sold her car and commuted by bike every day); then she was selected to ride with the British Columbia Provincial team. Before long, she was consistently finishing among the top five at the Canadian MTB Cup.

Grain originally started road cycling as part of her mountain bike fitness training, but very rapidly began to excel at it and received an invitation to join the team for the 2001 season where she rode alongside Leah Goldstein. By 2004, she had honed her skills and become one of the most respected sprinters in women's cycling - and then, again on a whim, she borrowed a track bike and gave that a go, too. Seven National titles later, she went to the 2008 Olympics and came ninth in the Points race.

She achieved an impressive selection of podium finishes on the road over the course of her career, too; including stage victories at the Tour du Grand Montréal in 2003 and the Tour of Gila in 2009, as well as overall victory at two Tours de Gastown (2006 and 2008) and a CSC Invitational (2004). In 2007, she was National Road Race Champion.

Thijs Al, who was born in Zaandam, Netherlands on this day in 1980 began his cycling career on a mountain bike in the 1990s, entering his first race in 1995 and winning the National Junior Championship in 1998 and the Under-23 title two years later. In 2001 he made one of his occasional forays into road cycling and won a silver medal at the National Road Race Championships - he has added other good road results over the years since, including first place at the U-23 Paris-Roubaix in 2003 and at the 2004 OZ Wielerweekend; but with a second U-23 national MTB title in 2003 and and Elite level victory at the 2008 National Championships, mountain biking has brought the majority of his success. He is also well-known on the cyclo cross circuit with numerous race wins in the Netherlands, Belgium and Britain.

Bert-Jan Lindeman won the Prix des Flandres Françaises and Ronde van Groningen as an amateur in 2008, which attracted the attentions of the KrolStonE Continental Team with whom he turned professional for the start of 2009. At the end of the year, when KrolStonE folded, he was picked up by Cyclingteam Jo Piels and won the Ster van Zwolle for them in 2010, later taking a stage at the Tour de Gironde too. He remained with the team until the end of July 2011 when he was offered a stagiaire contract with the ProTour Vacansoleil-DCM. Terms were later upgraded to a full contract at the beginning of 2012, which with victory at the Ronde van Drenthe and the Mountains Classification at the Étoile de Bessèges has been his best year to date. Lindeman was born in Emmen, Netherlands on this day in 1989; his older brother Adrie rides for Metec, a Continental team.

Addy Engels at the Tour de Romandie, 2007
Also born in Emmen on this day - though twelve years earlier in 1977 - Addy Engels became Dutch Under-23 Road Race Champion in 1998 and rode no fewer than fifteen Grand Tours over the course of his twelve years as a professional, finishing all but one of them. He never won a stage and more often that not finished outside the top 100 overall, but at the 2002 Giro d'Italia he was 24th. Engels retired at the end of 2011 and is now a directeur sportif at Argos-Shimano.

Jan Schröder was born in Koningsbosch on this day in 1941 and won the Omloop der Kempen in a final sprint in 1961, then knocked around the Dutch and Belgian races picking up good results before signing up to Locomotief-Vredestein for the 1963 season and winning the reasonably important Aachen and Elsloo criteriums. He spent the next two years with Ruberg-Calte doing much the same before being a surprise silver medalist for the Pursuit at the National Track Championships in 1966 and 1967, then retired.

Karina Skibby, born in Frederiksberg, Denmark on this day in 1965, is the younger sister of Jesper - the same Jesper who is more famous for almost being run over by the commissaire's car on the Koppenberg during the 1987 Ronde van Vlaanderen than for his five Grand Tour stage wins. Jesper won many more races and a lot more stages, but he got more opportunity because there are more men's races. If we look at what they won rather than how many they won, however, it could be argued that Karina was the better rider despite remaining an amateur - he won two National Time Trial Championships and a National Amateur Points Race Championship, she also won two National Time Trial Championships but she won four National Road Race Championships too. He won a stage at the Giro d'Italia in 1989, she represented her nation at the Olympics in 1992 (and came 11th in the Road Race). Karina and Jesper's father Willy was also a cyclist, taking a bronze medal at the World Amateur Championships in 1966. Karina is married to Jørgen Marcussen, winner of Stage 5 at the Giro in 1985.

Vitaliy Popkov, born in Novoselytsia, USSR on this day in 1983, won the Ukrainian National Roa Race and Time Trial Championships in 2010. He has spent his entire career with the ISD team in its various guises and currently rides for the Lampre-ISD Continental squad.

Murilo Fischer
Born in Brusque on this day in 1979, Murilo Fischer became "Elite B" Road Race Champion of the World in 2003 and was National Champion of Brazil in 2010 and 2011. Fischer is the only Brazilian rider to have finished two of the Grand Tours (the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia) and to have finished two editions of the Tour de France.

Luis Pérez Rodríguez, born in Torrelaguna on this day in 1974, is a now-retired Spanish cyclist who spent so much of the 1990s and first decade of the 21st Century finishing within the overall top ten at the Vuelta a Espana that it seems remarkable he never quite managed to get himself into the top three or perhaps even grab a General Classification victory: he was eighth in 1994, tenth in 2001 and 2003 (when he also won Stage 2), ninth in 2004, tenth again in 2006 and he won Stage 18 in 2007.

Hans Dekker, who was born Eindhoven on this day in 1928, was Dutch National Champion in 1951 and 1952 and won Stage 19 at the 1952 Tour de France.

On this day in 2010, Trek announced that it would be introducing "The Gary Fisher Collection" to replace the Gary Fisher brand it had owned since 1993. For many, the move spelled the end of an era - Fisher had been building mountain bikes under his name since 1983, but had begun with the MountainBikes company he co-founded in 1979 and is considered by many to have been the original inventor of what we now call a mountain bike.

Other births: Warren Sallenback (Canada, 1966); Johan Fagrell (Sweden, 1967); Hans Petter Ødegård (Norway, 1959); Borislav Asenov (Bulgaria, 1959); Sergio Llamazares (Argentina, 1965); Aurelio Cestari (Italy, 1934); Clyde Rimple (Trinidad and Tobago, 1937).

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