(Image credit: James F. Perry
CC BY-SA 3.0)
William Spencer, American professional cyclist, was born on this day in 1895. Having emigrated to the USA from England, he became a professional in 1916 before being drafted into the Army. He continued cycling after completing his mandatory six months of service, setting a new quarter mile (0.4km) record in 1920 with a time of 25 seconds. He died on the 2nd of October 1963.
General Director of the Tour de France Christian Prudhomme was born on this day in 1960 and continues the long tradition of the position being filled by a journalist. Having graduated from the Lille ESJ journalism school in 1985, Prudhomme was encouraged to seek employment with the Luxembourgian broadcaster RTL by his tutor who was himself an RTL correspondent. He was accepted on a trial basis and provided reports on sports in which he had an interest, namely rugby, athletics, skiing and - his favourite - cycling.
|It's not difficult to spot Prudhomme at the Tour - he's the
man who waves the flag to signal the start of competition
as the riders leave the neutral zone each day
(image credit: LeTour)
|Christian Prudhomme, the man who saved
the Tour de France
(image credit: Dianne Krauss CC BY-SA 3.0)
His willingness to point the finger, name names and rock the boat as part of his efforts to clean up the sport he loves has not always made him popular, as was the case when he directly accused Saunier Duval-Scott manager Joxean Fernández Matxin of organising a doping program that would contribute to the downfall of Riccardo Riccò. However, it is largely due to Prudhomme and his fight against doping that the greatest event in cycling - and arguably in sport as a whole - was able to retain its dignity and continue after the great scandals of 1998 and 2006 came close to killing it. In 2012, with Lance Armstrong stripped of his seven Tour victories and the investigation into doping at the US Postal team threatening to become ever larger and more scandalous, Prudhomme still has much work to do.