|Armstrong en route to her gold|
medal, London 2012
Two years later, having signed to T-Mobile, Armstrong became National Road Race Champion and was eighth in the road race at the Olympics, and the year after that she won three General Classifications and the individual time trials at the PanAmerican and National Championships, then third in the ITT at the Worlds. In 2006, she became National Champion for road race and time trial, won San Dimas, the Tour of the Gila, the Nature Valley Grand Prix, the Tour de Toona and the Euregio Tour, then became World Time Trial Champion; she kept the National TT title in 2007, won Nature Valley and Toona again and added the General Classification at the famous Holland Ladies' Tour.
|Another shot of Armstrong in London|
Armstrong is a rider able to keep track of the overall progress of a race while also concentrating on the finest details; by applying the law of marginal gains she has come to specialise in the time trial, a sport in which competitions are often won by fractions of seconds - and regularly wins by tens of seconds. She did precisely that at the 2012 Olympics when she beat World TT Champion Judith Arndt by 15.47", making her the oldest rider to have ever won the gold medal for the event.
She is sometimes incorrectly assumed to be the ex-wife of Lance Armstrong, who was married to Kristin Richard from 1998 to 2003. The two riders are not related to one another.
After turning professional with Nice Sport in 1922, Binda immediately began to win criterium races and, in 1924, the Tour du Sud-Ouest. That brought him a contract with the Italian Legnano-Pirelli team and a place with them at the Giro d'Italia - and he dominated the race, winning Stage 6, achieving podium places in the rest and leading the General Classification from Stage 5 to the end, ending the reign of Costante Girardengo. Earlier that year he'd taken the silver medal at the National Championships, and he ended it by winning the Giro di Lombardia. The next year, he won the Giro di Toscana, the National Championship, Stages 3, 6, 7, 9, 11 and 12 at the Giro d'Italia (but came second overall behind Giovanni Brunero and a second Giro di Lombardia - then in 1927 he won another Giro di Toscana and National Championship, the Six Days of Milan (where he teamed up with Girardengo), every stage except Stages 5 (for which he was second) and 11 and the General Classification at the Giro d'Italia, then the World Championships.
|Binda wins Stage 1, Giro d'Italia 1927|
In 1927, Binda led the Giro from start to end - only Girardengo had ever done that, in 1919 when there were five fewer stages. No other rider has accomplished the same feat since.
Euskadi, the Basque Country, has produced a remarkably high number of professional cyclists for a nation with a population of 2.2 million; but few of them have been female. The most prominent of those that have made a name for themselves in Joane Somarriba, who was born in Gernika (Guernica to the Spanish and admirers of Picasso) on this day in 1972.
Somarriba won the Junior National Road Race Championship in 1987 and 1988, then came second in 1989. In 1991 she won the Emakumeen Bira at Elite level, the bronze medal at the National Elite Championships in 1993 and the gold a year later, then the gold in the Time Trials National Championship another year after that. In 1999, after coming second at the Emakumeen Bira, she stood on the podium after five stages at the Giro Donne, including the top step after Stage 10b, and won the event overall.
Over the course of the rest of her career, Somarriba won the Emakumeen Bira again in 2001 and 2004, the Emakumeen Saria in 2002, 2003 and 2004, the Trophée d'Or Féminin in 2005, the World Road Race Championship in 2003, was third overall at the Giro Donne in 2003 and second at the Giro Donne in 2005, before retiring in 2006. She is one of the most successful female riders of all time and deserves to be far better-known than she is.
Giancarlo Astrua, born in Graglia, Italy on this day in 1927, was fifth overall at the Giro d'Italia in 1949, won Stage 15 in 1950 and Stage 12 in 1951, was seventh overall in 1952, third overall in 1953, fifth overall in 1954 and won Stage 5 in 1955. He also came third overall at the Tour de France in 1953, then seventh overall in 1955 and won Stage 12 at the Vuelta a Espana in 1956.
Aloïs Catteau, born in Tourcoing, France on this day in 1877 but of Belgian nationality, rode the first ever Tour de France in 1903 and came tenth. He entered again the following year and initially came eighth; however, after an investigation that led to numerous riders being disqualified for cheating, including winner Maurice Garin, he was promoted to third. Catteau also rode the following four Tours, coming 11th, 6th, 9th and 21st.
Ligget provides commentary for the Tour de France footage broadcast by Britain's ITV4, the USA's NBC and Australia's SBS alongside Paul Sherwen; together they have become "The Voices of the Tour" for millions of English-speaking fans around the world. Having covered 40 Tours up to 2012, he is well-known for his encyclopedic knowledge of the riders and race history, frequently using unusual and often rather poetic "Liggetisms" to describe them.
Other cyclists born on this day: Gerhard Trampusch (Austria, 1978); Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA, 1978); Marko Čuderman (Yugoslavia, 1960); Zdeněk Dohnal (Czechoslovakia, 1948); Eddie Dawkins (New Zealand, 1989); Raita Suzuki (Japan, 1972); George Dempsey (Australia, 1905, died 1985); Daniel Lloyd (Great Britain, 1980); Anton Kuys (Netherlands, 1903, died 1978); Rod Ellingworth (Great Britain, 1972); Joseph Smeets (Belgium, 1959); Ferenc Horváth (Hungary, 1939); Darryn Hill (Australia, 1974); Tuulikki Jahre (Sweden , 1951); Stjepan Ljubić (Yugoslavia, 1906, died 1986); Moustafa Chichi (Iran, 1969); Perry Merren (Cayman Islands, 1969); Uwe Ampler (East Germany, 1964).