Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 05.09.12

Pat McQuaid
Pat McQuaid
Born in Dublin on this day in 1949, Pat McQuaid was a highly successful amateur rider in his native Ireland before turning professional with Viking-Campagnolo in 1978 and 1979. He comes from a cycling dynasty: his father, his three brothers, one cousin and one uncle have all been professional cyclists.

McQuaid won the Shay Elliott Memorial in 1972, then became National Champion two years later; he won the Tour of Ireland in 1975 and 1976. His career as a rider was not without controversy: he and Sean Kelly used false names ("Jim Burns" in McQuaid's case) to break the boycott on athletes competing in apartheid-era South Africa, taking part in the Rapport Tour of 1976. This has led to accusations that he didn't take the boycott - intended to bring an end to apartheid - seriously; however, McQuaid argues that he had become interested in apartheid through his links to lecturer Kader Asmal, one of his lecturers at Trinity College, who was a vocal anti-apartheid activist and became a member of Nelson Mandela's first government. "I felt they were using sport as a means to break apartheid," McQuaid told CycleSport, explaining that he saw it as an opportunity to see the situation for himself. The circumstances in which they were caught sound as thought they belong in a farcical comedy - Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were honeymooning in South Africa and a journalist from the Daily Mail, in the country to report on the actors' time there, heard by chance that a British/Irish team was competing in the race. Aware of the boycott, he guessed he might be on the trail of a sensational story and tracked down team manager Tommy Shardelow to request opportunity to take photos of the riders. Shardelow, realising that the riders would be recognised, quickly found five locals to pose as team members, but unfortunately for him the reporter knew a bit more about cycling than expected and didn't think that the men presented to him looked like cyclists; he then listened in on them talking and found that they all had South African accents. When he got a photo of the actual riders, their true identities were rapidly exposed.

After retiring from racing, McQuaid worked as a teacher before becoming director of the Irish National Team from 1983 to 1986 and then president from 1996 to 1999. In between, he served as director of a number of major races including the Tours of China and Langkawi and afterwards served as chairman of the UCI's road racing commission. He took over as president of the UCI when Hein Verbruggen retired in 2005; controversy has followed him in this role too, the latest of which has been the Armstrong affair that came to a head in 2012 and resulted in the American rider being stripped of his seven Tour de France victories. He has come under increasing attack for his attitude towards women's cycling which many athletes, managers and fans believe he doesn't take as seriously as the sport deserves; especially since the 2011 World Championships when he said that in his opinion, women's racing is insufficiently developed for athletes to deserve a guaranteed minimum wage (as their male counterparts get) nor equal prize money to that on offer in men's races. Another common charge is that he has allowed women's races to close for lack of funds, while pouring UCI resources into attempts to globalise cycling with new races around the world.

Chris Anker Sørensen
Chris Anker Sørensen, born in Hammel, Denmark on this day in 1984, has raced with a Luxembourgian licence since 2010, when the UCI began to prevent the Danish federation issuing licences to Danish-born riders residing permanently in other nations. Sørensen's first major victory was Stage 6 at the 2008 Critérium du Dauphiné; the following year he won the Japan Cup and then in 2010 he won Stage 8 at the Giro d'Italia. In 2011 he won the King of the Mountains at the Tour de Romandie and in 2012 he was declared overall Combativity winner at the Tour de France.

Peter Winnen, born in Ysselsteyn, Netherlands on this day in 1957, won Stage 17 and the overall Youth category as well as fifth place overall at the Tour de France in 1981, won Stage 18 and was fourth overall in 1982 and then won Stage 17 and was third overall in 1983. In 1987 he was eighth at the Giro d'Italia, in 1988 ninth at the Tour and eighth again at the Giro and in 1990 he became National Road Race Champion, retiring the following year. His 1981 and 1983 Tour stage wins took place on the Alpe d'Huez. Winnen, along with Steven Rooks and Maarten Ducrot, confessed to doping on the Dutch TV show Reporter in 1999.

Bruno Neves, born in Oliveira de Azeméis, Portugal on this day in 1981, turned professional with ASC-Vila do Condoe in 2002 and won seventeen victories in the subsequent years. He died on the way to hospital on the 11th of May 2008 after a crash at the Classica de Amarante - initially, this was believed to be due to the extensive injuries he suffered in the crash, but a post mortem revealed that he had had a heart attack during the race, causing the crash.

Bernhard Ensink, who was born in Hilten, West Germany on this day in 1956 but holds Dutch nationality, is the secretary general of the European Cyclists' Federation and director of its Velo-city program (which aims to bring together cycling experts and advocates to form a central body advising on effective ways to promote cycling and improve cycling infrastructure). He has filled both roles since 2006,

Other cyclists born on this day: Thomas Russell "Nick" Carter (New Zealand, 1924, died 2003); Theo Blankenaauw (Netherlands, 1923); Daniel Moreno (Spain, 1981); Victor Garrido (Chile, 1971); Harold Bounsall (Canada, 1897); Thomas Siani (Cameroon, 1960); Ernest Merlin (Great Britain, 1886, died 1959); Vladislav Borisov (USSR, 1978); Olaf Nygaard (Norway, 1894, died 1978); Realdo Jessurun (Suriname, 1969); Stéphan Abrahamian (France, 1946); Christian Meidlinger (Austria, 1971); Carlos Linares (Venezuela, 1991).

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