(image credit: Diane Krauss CC BY-SA 3.0)
The twelfth edition of La Flèche Wallonne Féminine also took place on this day in 2009, covering a 109km loop that started and ended at Huy. The winner for a third consecutive year was Marianne Vos, who in doing so equalled the record set in the men's race by Marcel Kint in 1947. Since 1999, the race had formed a round of the UCI Women's World Cup; and in 2009 Vos became the second rider to win that as well as La Flèche - Nicole Cooke had managed it in 2003 and 2006.
The Vuelta a Espana began on this day in 1975, 1980 and 1986. 1975 covered 3.104km in 19 stages and was won by Agustin Tamames, his penultimate major victory - having won the Spanish National Championship a year later, his success dried up and he retired in 1977. 1980 covered 3,225km in 20 stages with Stages 1, 2, 14, 17, 19 and 21 being won by the Irish rider Sean Kelly who took the Points competition and finished fourth in the General Classification, 3'31" behind winner Faustino Rupérez. 1986 went to Álvaro Pino, who covered the 3,666km and 21 stages in 98h16'04". Other than Breton Bernard Hinault's victories, it was perhaps the best ever Grand Tour for Celtic riders - the Scotsman Robert Millar was second and Sean Kelly was third.
|Sastre at the Tour de France, 2008|
(image credit: Bjarte Hetland CC BY 3.0)
Sastre's father Victor established the Fundación Provincial Deportiva Víctor Sastre, a cycling academy in El Barraco with the intention of providing a way for children from poor families to get into the sport. Carlos was also inspired by Francisco Ignacio San Román, a cyclist who lodged with the Sastre family whilst completing his military service and later became a professional rider. After getting his own professional contract, he served for five yeaes as a domestique at ONCE; getting few opportunities to go for victories but impressing other riders and team bosses with his performance in the the mountains of the 2000 Vuelta a Espana. Having left for Bjarne Riis' Team CSC in 2002, he was given further opportunity to shine as team captain at the Vuelta and then, in 2003, he won Stage 13, a tough parcours between Toulouse and Ax 3 Domaines, at the Tour de France and finished a surprise 9th overall. Ivan Basso joined the team from Fassa Bortolo a year later and the two men trained extensively together. Their directeur sportif decided Basso was the stronger rider and gave him the captaincy for the 2005 Tour, thus relegating Sastre to domestique duties again - Basso proved a wise choice, as he came 2nd behind Lance Armstrong. However, Sastre was then selected to lead the team at the Vuelta and came 3rd - a result that was later increased to 2nd following Roberto Heras' disqualification when he tested positive for EPO.
|Sastre in 2010|
(image credit: Haggisnl CC BY 3.0)
In the 2008 Tour, Sastre was widely regarded favourite alongside Cadel Evans. Realising that Evans was a strong rider on the climbs and even better in a time trial (the combination that would prove to be Andy Schleck's undoing in 2011 when Evans won the General Classification), the Spanish rider knew that he would need to pace himself very carefully, conserving energy in order to be able to attack at the moment it would do his opponent the most damage. In fact, he was so reserved as the race made its way through the Pyrenees that quite a large number of fans began to wonder if he was unwell, while crueler ones decided he'd had his day and was in decline. However, when the peloton reached the Alpe d'Huez, Sastre blew the race apart; attacking with savage strength right from the foot of the mountain and refusing to let up until he blasted over the finish line for the stage win and the yellow jersey. In the end, Evans simply couldn't find the reserves he needed to make up the 1'32" advantage Sastre now had over him in the time trial, and Sastre won the Tour.
Robert Hunter, who was born in Johannesburg on this day in 1977, won Stage 1 at the Vuelta a Espana in 1999 and Stage 17 in 2001 then in 2004, he won the Points competition at the Tour de Suisse. In 2007 he won Stage 11 at the Tour de France - the first stage win by a South African rider in the history of the race. At the Tour the next year, anti-doping officials permitted the world a brief viewing of their human side by allowing Hunter out of their control so he could fly to Switzerland to be with his wife Claudia as she gave birth to Mandy Inga, their first child.
Wilfried David, born on this day in 1946 in Bruges, won the Tour of Belgium in 1968, 2nd overall at the Vuelta a Espana in 1971 and the Tour de Romandie in 1973.
Francis Castaing, born in Bordeaux on this day in 1959, became National Track Champion in 1981 and won Stage 6 at the 1985 Tour de France.
Other cyclists born on this day: Scott Davis (Australia, 1979); Linn Torp (Norway, 1977); Tom Larsen (Norway, 1972); Jeong Jeom-Sik (South Korea, 1968); Matthias Wiegand (East Germany, 1954); Giovanni Tonoli (Italy, 1947); Pedro Vaca (Bolivia, 1961); Dudley Hayton (Great Britain, 1953).