Monday, 3 September 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 03.09.12

Zita Urbonaitė was born in Šiauliai, Lithuania on this day in 1973 and won the National Championships in 1999 and 2002; successes that made her a household name in her native country and encouraged many other Lithuanian women to take up the sport. She retired to start a family in 2006, but died on the 26th of May in 2008 after being hit by a train in Montebelluna, Italy. She had been suffering deep post-natal depression since giving borth to a daughter three months earlier.

Jacques Esclassan
Jacques Esclassan
Jacques Esclassan, born in Castres, France on this day in 1948, signed his first professional contract with Peugeot in 1972 and remained with them for the entirety of his eight-year career. He soon revealed himself to be a sprinter of considerable note, winning Stage 2a at Paris-Nice and 9b at the Vuelta a Espana in his second year - he didn't win anything at the Tour de France, but two second-place stage finishes and three others in the top ten marked him out as a man the other sprinters would need to watch in the coming years. He confirmed it the next year with three second-places and six top tens, enough to put him into fifth place in the Points competition at the end of the race.

In 1975, Esclassan won the Critérium International and then took his first Tour victory, winning Stage 4 though he was ultimately unable to finish. A year later, he won Stage 8 at the Tour and was third in the Points competition; then in 1977 he won Stage 5a and finished 14 stages in the top ten, sufficient to give him a 96-point advantage over second-place Giacinto Santambrogio for the green jersey. He returned to the Tour in 1978 and won Stages 2 and 12b, finishing second for Points

José Luis Laguía, born in Pedro Muñoz, Spain on this day in 1959, turned professional with Reynolds in 1980 and spent the first six years of his career riding for them. During that time, he won the King of the Mountains in 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985 and 1986 - a record five times. Among his many other victories are the Tour of the Basque Country in 1981 and again in 1982, when he also won the National Road Race Championship. Unusually for a climber, Laguia could hold his own in a sprint: in 1982, the year of his second Vuelta King of the Mountains, he was second overall in the Points competition with 57 fewer points than Freddy Maertens (but 62 more than General Classification winner Bernard Hinault). He tried again in 1979 but left the race after Stage 15 and retired at the end of the year.

Other cyclists born on this day: Blel Kadri (France, 1986); Sergey Kolesnikov (USSR, 1986); Cheung King Wai (Hong Kong, 1985); Jason McCartney (USA, 1973); Christophe Mengin (France, 1968); Phil Edwards (Great Britain, 1949); Bernard Mammes (USA, 1911); René Pijnen (Netherlands, 1946); Michaël D'Almeida (France, 1987); Fred Rodriguez (Colombia, 1973); Matsuyoshi Takahashi (Japan, 1955); Henning Petersen (Denmark, 1939); Ove Jensen (Denmark, 1947); Robert Šebenik (Yugoslavia, 1965); Rebecca Bailey (New Zealand, 1974); Jaime Nielsen (New Zealand, 1985); Hilton Clarke (Australia, 1944); Matthew Hamon (USA, 1968); André Cardoso (Portugal, 1984); Ray Robinson (South Africa, 1929); Kurt Schmied (Austria, 1965); Pat Gellineau (Trinidad and Tobago, 1951).

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