The twelfth edition of La Flèche Wallonne was held on this date in 1948, returning to April for the first time since it began in 1936. It ran, as it would for the next twelve years, between Charleroi and Liège; covering a distance of 234km. The winner was Fermo Carmellini, the first Italian to achieve victory in this race - in Carmellini's day, Italians were commonly supposed to be unsucessful riders unless racing in their homeland and completely useless in the often cold, always gruelling North European Classics. However, he was just the first of many: as of 2011, La Flèche Wallonne has been won by an Italian eighteen times - the second highest number after the 38 Belgian victories. The race was held on this day again in 1951: the fifteenth edition and the first to be won by a Swiss, Ferdy Kübler - when he won Liège-Bastogne-Liège the following day, he became the first man to win the Ardennes Double. It ran once again between Charleroi and Liège but followed a different route that was 14km shorter. The 32nd edition, held in 1968, also fell on this date and was 222.5km running between Liège and Marcinelle, as it had been for the last three years and would be for three more. The winner was Rik Van Looy, the King of the Classics and the first man to win all five Monuments. In 2004, the 68th edition also took place on this day - it took a 199.5km route between Charleroi and Huy and was won by Davide Rebellin who, as he then won Liège-Bastogne-Liège four days later, became the fifth man to win the Ardennes Double. The last time the race was held on this date was the 74th edition in 2010. That year, it covered 198km, once again between Charleroi and Huy and was won for the first time by an Australian, Cadel Evans.
The seventh and thirteenth editions of La Flèche Wallonne Féminine fell on this day in 2004 and 2010. 2004 was won by Sonia Huguet. 2010, which took place on a 109km loop beginning and finishing at Huy rather than running between Charleroi and Huy as the men's race did, was won by the British rider Emma Pooley. As the Welsh rider Nicole Cooke had won three editions, Pooley's victory tied Great Britain with the Netherlands as the most successful nation in this race. (For comparison, no British man has ever won the men's event - but guess which race gets the most coverage in the British cycling press?)
English inventor James Starley was born in Albourne on this day in 1831 and, working on his father's farm in childhood, invented a new type of rat trap made from part of an old umbrella and a willow branch. During his teenage years he left home and went to London where he found work as a gardener, impressing his employer with an invention that permitted ducks to pass through a door in a fence but prevented rats from following. He also repaired watches to earn extra money and, knowing Starley to be a dab hand at repairing intricate machinery, his employer asked him if he could fix a broken-down sewing machine - not only did he do so, he improved it with modifications. As a result the machine's owner recommended him to the sewing machine manufacturer, Josiah Turner, who gave him a job in 1859. Two years later, Turner and Starley went into partnership and opened a new factory in Coventry.
|Starley aboard one of his own |
Starley was an inspiration to his nephew John Kemp Starley, who designed the Rover Safety Bicycle as an alternative to the penny-farthing and the first example of a modern bike. The Rover sold so well that, for a while, the name was used to refer to all bikes rather as we now refer to all vacuum cleaners as "Hoovers."
Monika Schachl became National Cross Country Mountain Bike Champion of her native Austria in 2005. Having made the move into road cycling, she won Stage 5 at the Krasna Lipa Tour Féminine in 2006 and 2007, then in 2008 took the National Championship titles for the Road Race and Individual Time Trial as well as second place in the National Hill Climb Championship.
Sergey Yakovlev, who was born in Temirtau, Kazakhstan on this day in 1976, won the Tour de l'Ain and his National Championship in 2000 and Stage 7 at the Tour de Suisse in 2003.
On this day in 2000, French mountain biker Eric Barone set a new downhill speed record at Les Arcs. Riding downhill on snow and using a prototype bike created for the attempt, he reached 222kph - a speed that at the time of writing hasn't been bettered. Barone, who was born on the 4th of November in 1960, also holds a record for highest speed on gravel at 172kph.
Today is the anniversary of The Great Jarrow Bicycle Match, which took place in 1888 and saw the five-time American champion W.A. Rowe pitting his skills against local rider W. Wood. The race was a straightforward affair with the men racing over 20 miles on an earthen track and the winner was awarded the fantastic sum of £175 - £100 of which had been put up by Rowe. Some 4000 people (including "a few ladies," according to surprised-sounding news reports) turned up to watch and were delighted when the British rider won after 66 minutes.
Other cyclists born on this day: Tomaž Nose (Slovenia, 1982); Vladimir Isaychev (Russia, 1986); Arnaud Geyre (France, 1935); Louis Weintz (USA, 1885, died 1969); Karl Magnussen (Denmark, 1915, died 1966); Jean Goujon (France, 1914, died 1991); Vincenzo Ceci (Italy, 1964); Marcel Roy (Canada, 1942); Vítor Gamito (Portugal, 1970); Salvatore Palmucci (San Marino, 1940).