Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 14.08.12

Andrea Peron
Andrea Peron
Born in Varese on this day in 1971, Andrea Peron received his first professional contract from Gatorade in 1993 and rode his first Tour de France that same year, coming 20th in the Prologue but abandoning after Stage 10. In 1994, having switched to Polti-Vaporetto, he was 61st overall; the year after than 44th. Two years later, having stayed away in 1995, he was 56th; then he stayed away for another year before coming back in 1999 to take tenth - his best ever result in a Grand Tour.

In 2004, shortly before the Tour, Le Monde published a report claiming that Peron and a number of other riders were still under police investigation following the notorious police raid on his then team Fasso-Bortolo's hotel before Stage 18 at the 2001 Giro d'Italia. Fortunately for him, the drugs police recovered from his room were permitted painkillers containing an amount of caffeine below the maximum and he'd already been cleared of all charges; he was, therefore, free to ride.

Peron was the rider who, in 1995, led Motorola at walking pace over the finish line of Stage 16 at the Tour de France while the peloton followed in silence behind them; a mark of respect for their team mate Fabio Casartelli, who had died in a crash on the Col du Portet d'Aspet the previous day.

Andrea Carrea
During Stage 9 of the 1952 Tour de France, a group got away from the peloton and Walter Diggelman, who rode six day races with Hugo Koblet in the late 1940s, won. Among the escapees was a little-known 27-year-old named Andrea Carrea, who had been born in Gavi Ligure on this day in 1924 and who was, by all accounts, the very humblest of domestiques ("The incarnation of personal disinterest... showing to perfection the notion of personal sacrifice. He refused the slightest bit of personal glory," said journalist Jean-Luc Gatellier). Having been seventh over the finish line he made his way to the hotel and set about doing whatever it is that domestiques do whilst waiting for their team leaders to finish with the masseurs. He hadn't been there long when the police showed up, looking for him. "What have I done wrong?" he asked, entirely mystified. They weren't there to arrest him; they were there for a reason that, as far as Carrea was concerned, was much worse than being accused of a crime he hadn't committed - he'd won enough time on the stage to be the new overall race leader.

Believing that team leader Coppi - of whom he was completely in awe, and to whom he had dedicated himself - would be furious, he burst into tears (some accounts say that Carrea was told he'd become race leader on the finish line and that he never went back to the hotel, nor were the police ever involved. Others say that he was told, then fled back to the hotel in panic. I like the version in which he didn't know until the police found him best, and since we'll never know for certain what happened - unless someone risks spoiling the story by asking Carrea who, at the time of writing, is still alive, you can pick whichever version appeals most to you). On the podium, Carrea was distraught, eyes fixed firmly on the ground in shame except for frequent furtive glances about him for Coppi, whom he expected to descend wrathfully upon him at any moment.

"Chin up, mate!" Coppi attempts to reassure Carrea
Coppi was still riding when the news reached him, getting to the finish line as Carrea was on the podium. Hearing of his domestique's distress, he went straight to congratulate him and did all he could to reassure him that he was pleased rather than angry, but Carrea was not convinced and worried that his master would punish him later on when no journalists were around to see, or at a later date in the peloton - where the worst retribution of all is meted out, and the careers of domestiques who have fallen out of favour can be brought to an end. Coppi later wrote, "Carrea gave everything to me. In return I offered him only money. I know very well that if he was not my team-mate he would earn much less, and when all is said and done he is happy and many of his comrades envy him, but I personally think he deserves more than he has the right to: a little of the intoxication of triumph. I had a way of settling the debt: it was to let him wear the jersey for a few days."

The following morning, Carrea made a point of being photographed by journalists as he polished his leader's shoes; showing his subservience before the stage in which he would become the first rider to climb the Alpe d'Huez, one of the new summit finishes that had been introduced that year, wearing the maillot jaune. "Do you know what he said to the journalists the next evening after he had taken the jersey? That it was not right for a soldier to leave his captain," Coppi recalled. Carrea still lives in Novi Ligure, just a short bike ride from Coppi's home at the time of his death.

For many years, until he became too old to do so, he would ride his bike to the top of the Alpe on the morning before the Tour arrived to pay his respects to the new generations that came after him. He died on the 13th of January in 2013, having outlived his beloved Coppi by 53 years and 11 days.

Herman van Springel
Van Springel, who spent two years riding as
a domestique for Eddy Merckx at Molteni
in the early 1970s
Herman van Springel, who was born in Grobbendonk, Belgium on this day in 1943, was an unusual combination of time trial specialist and all-rounder - a formidable combination that allowed him to build a very impressive palmares and come close to winning the greatest prize in cycling.

He turned professional with the Belgian Dr. Mann team in 1965, having already done very well as an amateur, and won three criterium races; then in 1966 he won Gent-Wevelgem and was selected for the Tour de France, where he finished tenth on Stage 1, in the top ten on Stages 16-20 and ended up sixth overall in the General Classification - an almost unheard-of result for a Tour debutant, especially one in his second professional year.

The following year was not quite as good with 24th place overall, but he won Stage 6 - his first - and came second on Stage 17. However, in 1968 he won eight of the first ten races he won and came second at Paris-Roubaix, then third at the Tour de Suisse; the other riders with a chance of going to the Tour that year took notice. He was third on Stage 1b and eighth on Stage 3b, then received a boost as his team won the Stage 3a time trial, but a string of much less impressive results between Stages 4 and 11 had some of them wondering if he'd perhaps peaked a little early that year and wasn't going to be such a threat to their own chances after all. Then he came thirteenth on Stage 12, won Stage 13 and finished several of them subsequent stages in the top ten, taking the overall lead during Stage 19; looking like a dead cert for the victory until Jan Janssen took the yellow jersey from him in the final stage. Later that year, he was also beaten into second place at the World Championships, but he rounded off the season by winning the Giro di Lombardia.

He went back to the Tour de Suisse in 1969 and won three stages, then at the Tour de France he won Stages 10 and 21, dropping to 14th overall, later winning Paris-Tours and the GP des Nations. The following year he won the Brabantse Pijl and looked to be on course for another good result at the Tour with six top ten stage finishes before being forced to abandon after Stage 12; in 1971 he was second overall at the Giro d'Italia, won the National Championship and came fourteenth at the Tour. He didn't ride the Tour in 1972; in 1973 he finished in the top ten on fourteen stages to come sixth overall and win the Points competition despite not winning a single stage, and he rode again in 1974 (10th), 1975 (31st) and 1976, when he didn't finish.

Van Springel's last major professional victory was Paris-Tours in 1981; the last race he won was the Boom criterium on the 12th of October that same year. At the end of the season he announced his retirement, having enjoyed sixteen years at the top of his sport.

Rabottini en route to his Stage 15 victory, 2012 Giro
Matteo Rabottini won Stage 15 and the King of the Mountains at the 2012 Giro d'Italia. He was born is Pescara, Italy on this day in 1987.

Jean Dumont, born in Ambérieu-en-Bugey on this day in 1943, was Amateur Road Race Champion of France in 1963 and won Stage 5b at the Tour de France five years later.

Vern Hanaray, born in Masterton on this day in 1951, was National Road Race Champion of New Zealand in 1971, 1973 and 1977. He also won Stage 8 at the Milk Race in 1980.

Sid Patterson, who was born in Melbourne on this day in 1927, won every state and National Junior track title from 1,000m to ten miles whilst a teenager, then pulled off a similar stunt in 1949 by winning the National 1 Mile, 5 Mile, Sprint and Time Trial titles - and then a few months later, became World Amateur Pursuit Champion. He then turned professional in 1951 and went on to become Pursuit World Champion in 1952 and 1953.

Other cyclists born on this day: Rubens Donizete (Brazil, 1979); Moisés Aldape (Mexico, 1981); Paul Wright (Great Britain, 1973); Jacopo Guarnieri (Italy, 1987); Andriy Vynokurov (USSR, now Ukraine, 1982); Henrik Baltzersen (Denmark, 1984); Aleš Trcka (Czechoslovakia, 1961); Glenn McLeay (New Zealand, 1968); Belén Cuevas (Spain, 1967); Hermógenes Netto (Brazil, 1913); Oscar Giacché (Argentina, 1923, died 2005); Hans Heinemann (Switzerland, 1940); Imre Furmen (Hungary, 1933); Ove Krogh Rants (Denmark, 1925); Din Meraj (Pakistan, 1925); Pakdi Chillananda (Thailand, 1946); Megra Admassou (Ethiopia, 1935).

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