Thursday, 6 September 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 06.09.12

Thomas Dekker
Thomas Dekker
Born in Amsterdam on this day in 1984, Thomas Dekker joined Rabobank's junior team in 2002 and moved up to their GS3 development squad the following year, staying there for eight months until he was moved up to a traineeship with the top-level ProTour team. He began 2005 with a full professional contract. That same year, he won a stage and came second overall at the Critérium International, rode his first Giro d'Italia, won a stage at the Tour of Poland and won the National Time Trial Championship for the second consecutive year.

In 2006 Dekker won Tirreno-Adriatico, then two stage wins and victory in both the Points competition and General Classification at the Tour de Romandie early in 2007 influenced Rabobank to select him for the Tour de France. He let it be known before the race that he was aiming to win the Youth category; but, as so often happens when a rider makes his Tour debut, competition turned out to be far stiffer than he had expected - he was sixth among the young riders and 35th overall. 2008 proved to be an off-year, his results early in the season sufficiently poor for Rabobank to leave him out of the Tour squad. He announced in August that he would be leaving the team.

Dekker in 2006
Late in 2008, rumours emerged that he would be riding for Garmin-Chipotle in 2009 but were apparently proved unfounded when he revealed he had signed to Silence-Lotto until the end of 2010. His results were not promising again at the start of 2009, but he was selected for the Tour anyway - then, on the 1st of July, news broke that an out-of-competition sample he provided a year and a half earlier in December 2007, had tested positive for EPO. He denied the charge, but the team withdrew him from the Tour pending investigation and, when his B sample also tested positive, sacked him. Dekker then apologised and admitted that he had used the drug, but claimed to have done o only once and called it a mistake - he would later confess that he had used it at various times during 2007 and 2008. Nevertheless, he was given a back-dated two-year ban from competition in March 2010. The UCI later revealed that unusual blood values had been noted on his biological passport and that he had been highlighted for special attention for that reason; in his autobiography, Dekker claims that he had been ready to sign a contract with Garmin in 2008 but manager Jonathan Vaughters turned him down after spotting unusual blood values (Vaughters, at the time, denied that a contract had been offered). This would not be the only time he was connected to doping - he came under suspicion due to his links to Luigi Cecchini, who had studied under the notorious Francesco Conconi. He denies that Cecchini was in anyway connected to his decision to dope, and it should be remembered that Cecchini, though connected to numerous high-profile doping cases, is a respected sports doctor who has also worked with many riders not considered likely to use doping methods - among them Fabian Cancellara and post-ban David Millar.

Dekker's ban ended on the 30th of June in 2011 and he made his return to racing a week later. In August it was announced that Jonathan Vaughters - to his eternal credit - was giving him a second chance with a contract to ride for Garmin-Cervélo's Chipotle-Sugar Labs development team. In September, he and Johan Vansummeren won the Duo Normand Pairrs Time Trial, beating the record time set by Vaughters and Jens Voigt a decade earlier. With his debts paid, apologies made and rehabilitation into cycling society complete, he was given a full professional contract with Garmin-Barracuda for the 2012 season.

Bruno Risi
(image credit: Armin Kübelbeck)
Bruno Risi, born in Erstfeld, Switzerland on this day in 1968, was a professional between 1991 and 2006. During that time he was World Points Champion in 1991, 1992, 1994, 1999 and 2001 and World Madison Champion (with Franco Marvulli) in 2003 and 2007. He has also held a total of 15 National Championship and two European Championship titles and won numerous road races.

Veselin Petrović, born in Vlasenica (now Bosnia and Herzegovina) on this day in 1929, was twice Road Race Champion and four times Time Trial Champion of Yugoslavia. He maintained his links to cycling after retiring from competition, becoming director of the Tours of Serbia and Yugoslavia and chairman of the National Cycling Selection Committee, the Serbian Cycling Association and Belgrade's Partizan CC as well a serving as the UCI's official representative for Yugoslavia. He died on the 8th of November in 1995.

Gianbattista Baronchelli, who was born in Italy on this day in 1953, won numerous prestigious races during his sixteen year professional career, which began with SCIC in 1974 after he was passed over by Molteni due to fears that he would clash with team leader Eddy Merckx. Among them were two Giri di Lombardia, two Giri di Toscana, the Tour of the Basque Country, the Tour de Romandie and a record six (consecutive) editions of the Giro dell'Appennino. He also won the Tour de l'Avenir in 1974 and was believed a likely Grand Tour winner of the future; however, cycling's greatest prizes eluded him - he came second twice and third once at the Giro d'Italia, won a silver medal at the 1980 World Championships and was unable to finish the Tour de France on either of his two attempts.

Other cyclists born on this day: Rudie Liebrechts (Netherlands, 1941); Andoni Lafuente (Euskadi, 1985); Radomír Šimunek, Jr (Czechoslovakia, 1983); Michael Vermeulin (France, 1934); Steve Chainel (France, 1983); Miyoko Karami (Japan, 1974); Jorge Hernández (Colombia, 1948); Clóvis Anderson (Brazil, 1963); Patrick Wackström (Finland, 1958); Herbert Honz (West Germany, 1942); Justo Galaviz (Venezuela, 1954); Garen Bloch (South Africa, 1978); Franz Neuens (Luxembourg, 1912, died 1985); Wolfgang Steinmayr (Austria, 1944).

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