Wednesday 28 November 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 28.11.2012

Full Tilt by Dervla Murphy -
one of the finest books on
cycle touring ever written.
Happy birthday to the cyclist and writer Dervla Murphy. In 1963, Dervla set off from her home in Ireland astride her Armstrong Cadet and, having faced one of the worst European winters in years, robbers and a would-be rapist (whom she dissuaded using what she calls "unspeakable tactics"), arrived in New Delhi many months later - the first of many adventures. She was born in 1930.

Guy Lapébie, born on this day in 1916 in Saint-Geours-de-Maremne, won two golds and a silver at the 1936 Olympics. He also enjoyed some Tour de France fortune, winning Stage 3 and coming 3rd in the overall General Classification in 1948 and the winning Stage 8 in 1949. He made his biggest impact on the track, however, winning several prestigious six-day races. He was the younger brother of Roger Lapébie who, through a combination of derailleur gears and questionable tactics, won the Tour in 1937. His son Serge was also a professional cyclist. Guy died on the 8th of March, 2010.

Scott Sunderland, who retired in 2004 after the longest professional career in Australian cycling history, was born in this day in 1966 in Inverell. Scott's first success came as a junior when we won the New South Wales State Championship and, whilst he never quite made it onto the A-list at least partially due to a number of injuries, he has a palmares many riders can only dream about. He later became directeur sportif of CSC, a position he held until 2008 and in which he was instrumental in driving the team towards two consecutive wins in Paris-Roubaix and coached Carlos Sastre to his 2008 Tour de France victory. After leaving CSC, he spent time working for British Cycling until becoming senior directeur sportif with Team Sky in 2010, a role from which he retired in May of the same year after coaching Juan Antonio Flecha to a win at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Stephen Roche
Triple Crown winner Stephen Roche, 52 today
(image credit: Eric Houdas CC BY-SA 3.0
The biggest happy birthday for today must surely go to Stephen Roche, the Irish winner of the 1987 Tour de France and the only cyclist other than demigod Eddy Merckx to have won the greatest competition in cycling, The Triple Crown (the Tour, the Giro d'Italia and the Elite Road World Championship in a single year), for which there is no trophy, prize money or official recognition, despite a knee injury that would have ended the career of a lesser man. Roche, born in 1959 in Dundrum, Ireland, was never again a contender for overall victory in the Grand Tours afterwards, but he went on to place 9th in the Giro in 1989 and 1993 and also in the 1992 Tour de France (where he also won Stage 16).

In 1990, Paul Kimmage (a former team mate of Roche at Fagor) published Rough Ride, a warts-and-all account of doping in professional cycling. While Kimmage's admiration for Roche and his achievements is plain to see, he did not pull his punches; as good as accused of cheating, Roche threatened to sue and denied that he had ever doped. Ten years later Italian newspaper La Repubblica published an article in which it was alleged that Francesco Conconi, a doctor who later became notorious as the man who first introduced the cycling world to EPO, had worked with the Carrera team during the time Roche rode for them and had provided him and other riders with the blood-boosting drug; once again the rider denied that he had ever doped and then did so again when the same allegations were made in the Irish Times days later. However, some weeks later an Italian court published the results of an investigation into Conconi's affairs in which it had found evidence that, in the court's opinion, proved that Roche had used EPO in 1993, his final year as a professional rider. Four years later, the presiding judged ruled that due to the statute of limitations neither Roche nor any of his team mates at Carrera would face prosecution.

Roche's brother Lawrence was also a professional cyclist and competed in the 1991 Tour, while his nephew Daniel Martin was the 2008 Irish National Road Race champion. His son, Nicolas, rides with AG2R - his best Grand Tour result to date was 7th overall in the 2010 Vuelta a Espana, his best Tour result was 15th overall in the same year. Stephen is now 52 and runs a hotel he owns in the Antibes.

Other cyclists born on this day: Tim Kennaugh (Isle of Man, 1991); Denis Flahaut (France, 1978); Roberto Vacchi (Sweden, 1965); Albert Byrd (USA, 1915, died 1990); Jack McCullough (Canada, 1949); Preben Lundgren Kristensen (Denmark, 1923, died 1986); Willy Gervin (Denmark, 1903, died 1951); Henrik Salée (Denmark, 1955); Lauri Resik (Estonia, 1969); Juan Carlos Rosero (Ecuador, 1963); Nuno Marta (Portugal, 1976); Tomohiro Nagatsuka (Japan, 1978); Suprovat Chakravarty (India, 1931).

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