|Bernard Thevenet, the man who beat Merckx|
(image credit: Ken CC BY 2.0)
Bernard Thévenet was born in Saint-Julien-de-Civry on this day in 1948 and in 1975 became the man who defeated The Cannibal. He was born in 1948 in the tiny Burgundy village known as Le Guidon, a name which rather fittingly translates into English as "the handlebar," and his early interest in the sport was facilitated by the local priest who moved Mass to an earlier time so that Thévenet and the other choirboys could watch cycle races as they passed through the village; he would later remember, "The sun was shining on their toe-clips and the chrome on their forks. They were modern-day knights."
The young Bernard's parents knew of their son's passions but would not allow him to race as they needed him to work on their farm, so he would sneak off to enter local events - they remained unaware for some time, but then he began winning them and appeared in the newspapers. At first, they tried to forbid him from continuing, but the cycling-loving priest talked them into going to see him race and, when they'd saw how fast the boy was, convinced them that he had the potential to go a long way.
In 1970, Thévenet turned professional with Peugeot-BP-Michelin and was picked to ride the Tour de France two days before the race started when two more experienced riders became ill - up until that point, he hadn't even been on the reserves list. The team manager had to call his parent's neighbours and ask them to pass on the message as few houses in the village at that time had phones. "I can remember perfectly getting to Limoges," Thévenet later recalled, referring to where the Tour was due to start. "I was anxious and scared at the same time, but full of pride. I was given a new suitcase, seven jerseys, six pairs of shorts, overclothes, sweaters, shirts and so on and so on. Everyone else had a brand new bike, but not me, because I wasn't on the team's entry list" - yet he won Stage 18, and the year after that he won Stage 10 and came fourth overall.
In the 1972 Tour, Thévenet crashed and hit his head hard enough to temporarily lose his memory; afterwards he said that he'd looked down at his Peugeot jersey and wondered if he might be a professional cyclist in a race, so he got up and rode away. Gradually, memories returned, then he saw a team car and it all flooded back - he says he suddenly realised "I'm riding the Tour de France!" A few days later he won Stage 11 on Mont Ventoux, then later in the race Stage 17 on the Ballon d'Alsace before coming ninth overall; then in 1973 he was second overall. The year after that he failed to finish, but then in 1975 came his finest moment - after two stage wins and some titanic battles, including six consecutive attacks on the Col d'Izoard, he ended the Tour de France reign of Eddy Merckx, the greatest cyclist to have ever lived.
Thévenet went on to win a second Tour in 1977 but, some months later, was hospitalised with serious liver damage. He had always insisted that he did not dope, claiming that he was too good to need drugs, but had failed a test at Paris-Nice earlier that year; now cycling fans wondered if his illness might have been caused by drugs. In 1978 he couldn't finish the Tour and was taken to hospital where tests revealed further damage to his adrenal glands, which he admitted had been caused by his long-term use of steroids. ""I was doped by cortisone for three years and there were many like me," he said, before calling for cycling to rid itself of doping.
Craig Lewis was born on this day in 1985. Lewis returned from a horrific crash after being hit by a car and left with 47 broken bones, massive internal bleeding and punctures in both lungs early on in his career to win the Under-23 Road Race and Criterium titles in 2006, then managed three top ten stage race finishes a year later. In 2008, he finished the Giro di Lombardia in 11th place. Over the last two years, he has won stages at the Tour de Romandie and in the Giro d'Italia, proving himself very much a rider to watch in the coming years as he enters his peak. He rode with the new Champion System team in 2012.
|"Catlike," it says on his helmet - and, accordingly,|
Hayden Roulston looks as though he's just about
to fall asleep.
(image credit: Thomas Ducroquet CC BY-SA 3.0)
Antoine Fauré was born in Lyon on this day in 1869 and wa one of the 60 cyclists to start the very first Tour de France in 1903, but not one of the 21 to finish. He did rather better the following year when he won Stage 2 in the independent class (Aucouturier won among the professionals), then abandoned in Stage 4; and would enter again in 1907, 1909 and 1912 - 1909 was the only year in which he finished, taking 37th place.
|152 Newbury Street,|
Other cyclists born on this day: Jean Alfonsetti (Luxembourg, 1908); Karl-Ivar Andersson (Sweden, 1932); Adolfo Belmonte (Mexico, 1945); Vic Browne (Australia, 1942); Gheorghe Calcişcă (Romania, 1935); Phillip Collins (Ireland, 1972); Auguste Garrebeek (Belgium, 1912, died 1973); Dieter Gieseler (Germany, 1941); Oscar Goerke (USA, 1883, died 1934); Theo Hogervorst (Netherlands, 1956); Gholam Hossein Koohi (Iran, 1951); Kimpale Mosengo (Congo, 1963); Joseph Werbrouck (Belgium, 1882, died 1974); Jutta Niehaus (Germany, 1964); Michel Zanoli (Netherlands, 1968, died 2003); Marlon Pérez (Columbia, 1976); Michel Vaarten (Belgium, 1957); Kamsari Slam (Malaysia, 1941); Jürgen Simon (Germany, 1938, died 2003); Amar Singh Billing (India, 1944).