(image: © James F. Perry CC BY-SA 3.0)
|Moeskops earned his
"Big Piet" nickname due to
his height, unusually
tall for a sprinter.
Laurens ten Dam, the Rabobank rider who won the Mountains classification at the 2009 Tour of Romandie, was born on this day in 1980 in Zooidwolde, Netherlands.
Today is also the anniversary of the birth of Bernhard Knubel (not to be confused with the rower born in 1938) in 1872. Knubel, who was born and died in Münster, was one of nine cyclists to enter the 100km race at the 1896 Olympics. He - along with seven others - did not finish.
|Choppy with some of his cyclists. The very short one in
the middle is Jimmy Michael, the others appear to be the
Linton brothers (Arthur in the fleur-de-lys jersey?)
Choppy was born in Coal Hey in Lancashire and inherited his nickname from his father, a sailor who when asked how the conditions on his latest voyage had been would always reply "choppy." He came to note as a runner, turning professional at the late age of 34 (sports at that time being the pursuit of wealthy gentlemen, which Choppy - raised single-handed by his mother after his father died - was not) and went to the USA in 1880 where he won 80 races.
In those days, there were no scientific anti-dope tests and so the sport relied on athletes and trainers being caught red-handed. Choppy never was and neither were any of the cyclists he trained, but there is some apparent evidence against him. A writer named Rudiger Rabenstein stated that Choppy's star rider Arthur Linton was "massively doped" during the 1896 Bordeaux-Paris race, and biography of the cyclist written after his death by an anonymous author who claimed to have known him well agreed. Also, Choppy's cyclists seem to have had a tendency to die young - very young, in some cases. Linton was only 24, his death being recorded variously as typhoid or strychnine poisoning (strychnine in small doses acts as a stimulant) and, eventually, considered the first doping-related death in any sport. Arthur's younger brother, also a cyclist, was 39 when he died, the cause once again being recorded as typhoid. Jimmy Michael, the Welsh-born 1895 World Champion, was also in Choppy's care, was 28 when he died in mysterious circumstances. No link to any form of doping, administered by the soigneur or otherwise, was ever proved (nor has been since) and at least one modern researcher has concluded that the deaths were in fact down to typhoid; but suspicions were sufficiently high for him to be banned from working in any capacity within professional cycling.
|Vélodrome Buffalo by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
On the bike - Jimmy Michael; with hat and greatcoat - sports
journalist Frantz Reichel; bending over to look in bag: the
notorious Choppy Warburton.
Lech Piasecki, born in Poznań, Poland, on this day in 1961, became both the first Polish rider and the first from the Eastern Bloc to wear the yellow jersey of the Tour de France when he led the General Classification during the 1987 edition of the race (note that Jean Stablinski never wore the maillot jaune and, having been born in France to Polish immigrants, took French citizenship when he was 16).
(image credit: Cycling Art)
In the 1987 Tour he came second in the prologue, beating many favourites and earning sufficient time to be race leader after the team time trial in Stage 2 and kept it for two stages. Unfortunately, he picked up a bug soon afterwards that gave him diarrhoea and he abandoned in Stage 7. He would be one of eight riders to wear the yellow jersey that year, a Tour record.
It's also the 85th anniversary of the birth of long-forgotten Eugene Telotte, who rode as Number 89 with Ile-de-France in the 1955 Tour de France. He did not finish.
Other births: Javier Gonzalez Barrera, Jose Luis Roldan Carmona, Laurent Colombatto, Petra Dijkman, Hubert Dupont, Andrea Graus), Bart Van Haaren, Amber Halliday, Yoshimitsu Hiratsuka), Tim Kerkhof, Kalle Kriit, Teng Ma, Christian Moberg Joergensen, Bokang Moshesa, Jason Perryman, Patrik Stenberg, Emi Wachi, Winston Williams, Malgorzata Zieminska.