Sunday, 26 August 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 26.08.12

Léon Houa
The dates of the Classics, the great one-day races of Europe that after the three Grand Tours are the most prestigious races on the cycling calendar, have changed many times over the years before settling into their current order and months. Even the five Monuments, the most venerated of the Classics, are not immune; and the oldest of them all Liège-Bastogne-Liège has fallen in Spring, Summer and even Autumn. One such example was the third edition, held on this day in 1894, when it was open to professional riders for the first time. The parcours, a loop starting and finishing at Spa, was shortened from 250km to 223km - a fact reflected in the time taken by Léon Houa to win for a third consecutive year: 8h52'05", almost two hours faster than 1895. In fourth place, 43' behind Houa, was Maurice Garin who would go on to win the first Tour de France nine years later.

Carlo Galetti
As is commonly the case with riders from the early days of road cycling, we know surprisingly little about Carlo Galetti, who was born in Corsico, Italy on this day in 1882 - even though he won the Giro d'Italia in 1910, 1911 and 1912. He seems to have begun riding as an amateur as early as 1901 but has no recorded victories until a race called the Campionato Brianzola in 1905, where he beat Luigi Ganna (who would win the first Giro in 1909) into second place. The following year he joined the Italian-based, British-sponsored Rudge Whitworth team and, as was not uncommon in those days, also rode for the Italian Otav team. He remained a member of both for two years and won a number of prestigious events including Roma-Napoli-Roma, the Corza Nationale, the Giro di Sicilia and second place in the Giro di Lombardia.

Carlo Galetti
In 1908, Galetti switched to the famous French team Alcyon-Dunlop where he rode alongside some of the biggest names in pre-First World War cycling including Hippolyte Aucouturier, Eugène Christophe, Paul Duboc, Louis Trousselier and his old rival Ganna; also riding for Atala where he was again a team mate of Ganna. He won a second Giro di Sicilia that year, then moved back to Rudge Whitworth, now co-sponsored by Pirelli, and Legnano-Pirelli in 1909. He stood on the podium after five stages at the Giro that year, but Ganna - who had remained with Atala - beat him by two points. The following year he went back to Atala and rode once again with Ganna who would win three stages at the Giro, but finished in third place with a 23 point disadvantage; Galetti won two stages but was able to beat second place Eberado Pavesi (also an Atala team mate) by 18 points despite riding into a haystack and getting left behind during the final stage.

Galetti and Pavesi moved to Bianchi in 1911 while Ganna again stayed put at Atala. He won the first stage of the Giro, then lost the leadership to Giovanni Rossinoli who would keep it until Stage 6 when Galetti briefly won it back and held it for three stages until Lucien Petit-Breton became the first Frenchman to lead the race. In Stage 10, which Galetti won, he took it back from Petit-Breton and retained it until the end of the race. In 1912 he represented three teams, Dei, Senior-Polack and Atala, returning to the Giro with the latter - Pavesi had gone with him again, so they and Ganna became team mates once again (with Giovanni Micheletto, they became known as the Four Musketeers). Neither Ganna nor Pavesi won a stage at the Giro that year, possibly due to a lack of impetus as the General Classification had been abolished in favour of the Teams category. Micheletto took Stages 1 and 8, Galetti won Stage 5 (Stage 4, held two days earlier, was cancelled because the riders refused to ride through a river that had burst its banks and flooded the road; they were taken by train to Rome, where the stage was due to end in a velodrome and where angry fans demanded their ticket money back. Stage 9 was hastily organised and added to the race as a result);  Atala won the race by ten points due to their efforts.

Galetti, presumably towards the end of the Giro
Galetti never rode the Giro again, but his career wasn't over yet: 1913 passed without victory, then he came second at Milan-San Remo in 1914, jut before the War brought European cycling to a temporary halt. He survived the conflict and returned to the sport in 1918, winning Milan-San Remo and taking third place at the Giro di Lombardia. In 1919 he signed a new contract with Legnano-Pirelli and won the National Stayers Championship before taking second place at the Giro della Provincia Milano in 1920 and at Milano-Modena a year later. He seems to have retired as a professional rider at the end of 1921 but then came back in 1930 and 1931, by which time he was nearly 50 years old.

In 1920, Galetti began manufacturing bikes under his own name. The company was bought out in 1952, but 40 years after his Giro victories and three years after his death the Galetti name remained sufficiently familiar for new owners Alessi to retain it; they also went through the catalogues and put machines designed by Galetti himself back into production. Now known as New Galetti, it's still in operation today and produces a range of bikes including a highly desirable hardtail MTB, city and kids models and a stunningly attractive fixie.

Chris Boardman
Born in Hoylake, Great Britain on this day in 1968, Chris Boardman started racing when he was 13. By the time he was 16, he'd been selected for the National Cycling Team ("I was going to the World Championships and getting an absolute kicking," he says) and won the Road Time Trials Council's George Herbert Stancer 10-mile Championship and beaten the British Junior's 25-mile record. Two years later, he won the Junior 25-mile Championship.

Chris Boardman
Boardman was purely a time-trial specialist, excelling in that one discipline but lacking the ability to compete at the top level of cycling in other types of race. Nevertheless, he was so good in time trial that he was in high demand among the professional teams that competed in the Grand Tours and signed to Roger Legeay's Gan in 1993. The following year, he went to the Tour de France and set a record that still stands for the fastest prologue, recording an average speed of 55.152kph. As only he and Robert Millar had been the only cyclists to enjoy a high profile among the non-cycling public since Tom Simpson, he was widely predicted to be a future Tour winner despite his insistence that he could not win due to his poor performances in the mountains. The following year saw him crash and abandon in the Prologue, then in 1996 with the Prologue raced in heavy rain he was unable to perform as well a expected and was beaten by Alex Zülle. He then won the Prologue in 1997 and 1998, but in both years later crashed and abandoned.

Cycling had been extensively modernised by Boardman's era - the soigneurs of old, some of them with methods that were apparently based more on withcraft than science, had long gone. New materials, lightweight and strong, were replacing parts that had been drilled to replace weight and carbon fibre allowed manufacturers to introduce new machines that looked like they came from a hundred years in the future when compared to those of a decade before. Boardman embraced every advance, being one of the first to rely heavily on heart-rate monitors, performance meters and any scientific discovery that might offer a marginal gain; even going to far as to install an altitude tent (similar to an oxygen tent, but with a low-oxygen atmosphere to mimic the air at high altitiude) at his home - he said it had little effect other than to increase his concentration. For this reason, he earned the nickname The Professor among his fellow cyclists. The best-known expression of this eagerness to accept new developments was his use of the revolutionary new Lotus 108 bike at the 1992 Olympics, which he rode to gold and a new World Record time of 4'24.496" and, one year later, to a new "best human effort" (ie, using a non-standard bike radically different to that used by Eddy Merckx in 1972) Hour Record of 52.270km when he beat the previous record set by Graeme Obree one week earlier.

The Lotus 108
Boardman was diagnosed with osteoporosis in 1998. As treatment required hormone replacement therapy to increase his testosterone levels - which is banned under anti-doping rules - he chose to forego treatment for two years with an aim of ending his career on a highpoint at the 2000 Olympics. However, the disease progressed more rapidly than he had hoped; after winning thirteen races during 1998 and 1999, he was unable to compete in the Games. Instead, he set a new official UCI Hour Record (using a standard bike) at 49.441km on the 27th of October in 2000, then retired. He later became technical adviser to the British national road and track teams and is today best known as a commentator and for his bike range, Boardman Elite.

Knud Enemark Jensen
Born in Aarhus, Denmark's second-largest city, on the 30th of November in 1936, Knud Enemark Jensen represented his nation at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. The team time trial at the Games took place on the 26th of August in conditions so hot that team mate Jorgen B. Jorgensen was forced to abandon with sunstroke during the first lap; if they lost another man, the entire team would automatically be disqualified. Jensen complained that he too felt ill and became so dizzy that remaining team mates Vagn Bangsborg and Niels Baunsof had to hold him upright, spraying cold water on him to try to keep him cool. He would not let the team down, so he did not give up.

After a while, Jensen looked a little steadier and Bangsborg let go. The moment he did so, Jensen crashed, hitting his head hard. He was then taken to a medical tent set up near the finish line where doctors diagnosed a probable fractured skull, but for some reason he was not taken to hospital. The tent, standing in direct sun all day, was already hot when the rider was taken in and it became hotter as the day went on. He died there that afternoon, having remained unconscious since the crash. Sometime later, the Danish team coach confessed to having given the riders a vasodilator, nicotinyl alcohol, and eye-witnessed claimed to have seen him swallow eight phenylisopropylamine tablets, fifteen amphetamines and a large amount of coffee before the race; yet his corpse was declared free of drugs when it was autopsied and the cause of death given as heatstroke. However, years later one of the three doctors that had carried out the process claimed that they had found amphetamines and "traces of several things" in Jensen's system.

Jensen's death, at least partially because it was captured by television cameras, was not in vain. The public were so shocked that athletes held up as the physical ideal we should strive to emulate were putting their health at risk in order to be able to win their events and, 64 years since Arthur Linton became the first athlete to have died as a result of doping (probably - his death was put down to typhoid, but most modern researchers believe it was due to drugs administered to him by notorious soigneur Choppy Warburton), the International Olympic Committee and UCI began to realise that they needed to act to control doping.

Gianni Da Ros
Gianni Da Ros
Gianni Da Ros, who was born in Pordenone on this day in 1986, showed a great deal of promise as junior when he won silver medals for the Team Pursuit and Individual Sprint at the Italian Nationals in 2004, then more in the Under-23 class three years later with gold medals for the same two events and a silver for the Scratch at the Open Balkan Championship. He then won the Tre Giorni Citta di Pordenone with Davide Cimoli in July 2008, which earned him a trainee contract with Liquigas starting from the 1st of August and a full professional contract for the following year.

He would never win as a professional, however. On the 11th of March 2009, while training with the team, he was arrested as part of a police investigation into a doping supply network. He and two other riders, Davide Lucato and Albinio Corrazin were subsequently found guilty and all three received bans - Lucato for eight years, Corrazin for two years and Da Ros for twenty years, the longest ban ever handed to a cyclist. On appeal, the court decided that while he was guilty of both using and supplying drugs and should, therefore, remained banned, twenty years was excessive as he had not been shown to have administered drugs to another person. It was reduced to four years and will expire in March 2013, but Da Ros has not yet given any indication that he plans to return to professional cycling.

Krekels in 2006
Jan Krekels
Born in Sittard on this day in 1947, Jan Krekels hoped to be selected for the Dutch team at the 1968 Olympics after winning a number of important races early in the season, but was informed that he hadn't made the grade - so, despite being tall and well-built, he rode himself to point of exhaustion at the mountainous Österreich-Rundfahrt in an attempt to change the selection panel's minds. He won, it worked and with his help the team won the Team Time Trial in Mexico City; a remarkable feat since their training had been limited to Limburg, where the highest point is 322.7m above sea level  - around 2,100m lower than Mexico City's mean altitude.

Following the Games, Krekels was offered a professional contract with Bic, where he could have ridden alongside Jacques Anquetil. However, he was a homely sort of character and worried that he'd be lonely because of his inability to speak French, so he elected to stay at home and continue riding for a succession of small Dutch and Belgian teams. In 1971 he won a stage at the Tour de Suisse, then finished in the top ten on five stages and won one (Stage 19) at the Tour de France,  which all suggests that he might have gone a long way had he have taken up Bic's offer. As things were, his career slowly but surely faded away. Krekels doesn't care, though - he set up a central heating business, made a good living from it and still lives in Liburg, not far from where he was born. He says he's happy and he looks it when he appears in public.

Henk Nijdam, born in Eelderwolde, Netherlands on this day in 1935, won the National Pursuit Championship in 1960, 1966 and 1967; the World Amateur Pursuit Championship in 1961; the World Elite Pursuit Championship in 1962; Stage 6 at the 1964 Tour de France; Stage 20 at the Tour and Stages 8, 10b and 16 at the Vuelta a Espana in 1966 and Stage 12 at the Vuelta in 1967. He was the father of Jelle Nijdam, who was born on the 16th of August 1963.

Arnaud Démare, born in France on this day in 1991, won the Under-23 World Road Race Championship in 2011. In 2012, he won the Vattenfall Cyclassics, Le Samyn and Cholet-Pays de Loire, stages at the Tour of Qatar and the Route du Sud and was fourth at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

Bob Mionske, born in Evanston, Illinois on this day in 1962, represented the USA at the Olympics in 1988 and 1992, coming fourth in the road race in 1988. In 1990, he became National Road Race Championship. Following his retirement from competition in 1993, Mionske trained in law and became qualified to practice as an attorney, then in 1999 opened his own firm - the first in the world to specialise in representing cyclists and cases involving what became known (after he coined the phrase) as "bicycle law," and in 2007 he wrote a book on he subject titled Bicycling & The Law, the first volume devoted to bicycle law since The Road Rights and Liabilities of Wheelmen of 1895.

Robert de Middeleir, born in Oordegem, Belgium on this day in 1938, won the Omloop Het Volk and was second at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and the Brabantse Pijl in 1962.

Jan Nevens, born in Ninove, Belgium on this day in 1958, won Stage 6 at the 1986 Tour de Romandie

Émile Baffert, who was born in Grenoble on this day in 1924, won Stage 22 at the 1950 Tour de France.

Bart de Clercq, who was born in Zottegem, Belgium on this day in 1986, won Stage 7 at the 2011 Giro d'Italia.

Other cyclists born on this day: Jimmy Watkins (USA, 1982); Aurélien Clerc (Switzerland, 1979): Jørn Lund (Denmark, 1944); Frans van Looy (Belgium, 1950); Carsten Wolf (East Germany, 1964); Danilo Wyss (Switzerland, 1985); Ceferino Estrada (Mexico, 1945, died 2003); Regina Marunde (West Germany, 1968); Lindford Gillitt (Belize, 1964); Al Stiller (USA, 1923, died 2004); Aleksandr Shefer (Kazakhstan, 1971); Stein Bråthen (Norway, 1954); Yury Dmitriyev (USSR, 1946); Erich Arndt (Germany, 1911); Han Shuxiang (China, 1965); Lucien Faucheux (France, 1899, died 1980); Yordan Penchev (Bulgaria, 1956); Ventura Díaz (Spain, 1937).

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