Sunday, 26 May 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 26.05.2013

The Giro d'Italia began on this day in 1991 with a 193km starting and ending at Olbia on Sardinia. The 21 stages (two split) covered 3,715km. Franco Chioccioli achieved the most complete domination of the race for many years when he led through 20 stages, winning Stages 15, 17, 20 and the General Classification after many years of trying - he'd been 25th in 1982, won the Youth Category in 1983 (when he was also 15th overall), finished in 24th place in 1984, then came 9th and won Stage 14 in 1985, 6th and won Stage 8 in 1986, 14th in 1987, 5th and won Stage 6 in 1988, 5th in 1989 and 6th again in 1990 (in 1992, he was 3rd overall and won Stage 20, then also won Stage 15 at the Tour de France). Chioccioli, incidentally, was nicknamed Coppino on account of his resemblance to Fausto Coppi.

Coppino and Coppi
Zita Urbonaitė
Zita Urbonaitė, born on the 3rd of September 1973 in Šiauliai, won the Lithuanian National Championships in 1999 and 2002; successes that made her a household name in her native country and encouraged many other Lithuanian women to take up the sport. She retired to start a family in 2006, but died on this day in 2008 after being hit by a train in Montebelluna, Italy. She had been suffering deep post-natal depression since giving borth to a daughter three months earlier.

Mikel Nieve
Mikel Nieve
Mikel Nieve, a rider since 2009 with Euskaltel-Euskadi, was born in Leitza, Navarre on this day in 1984. At the 2011 Giro d'Italia, Nieve mounted a solo breakaway with 50km to go on Stage 15 and eventually succeeded in dropping stage leader Stefano Garzelli 5.7km from the finish line, then won by 1'41" - sufficient to propel himself from outside the top ten into fifth place in the General Classification. The stage, that year's Queen, was later termed "the hardest of my life" by no less a rider than Alberto Contador.

Andy Bishop
Andy Bishop, born in Tucson, Arizona on this day in 1965, turned professional with the Dutch PDM-Concorde team in 1988 after coming second at the United Texas Tour and winning the Tour of the Gila the previous year. He would complete three Tours de France, coming 135th in 1988, 116th in 1990 and 126th in 1991, then failed to finish in 1992.

Jean Graczyk
Born Neuvy-sur-Baragneon on this day in 1933, Jean Graczyk had been a successful amateur track rider - winning a silver medal at the 1956 Olympics - before he turned professional in road racing, a move inspired by his National Amateur Road Race Champion title the same year.

Jean Graczyk
In his first professional season he won two races, then in his second he won the 105km Stage 13b at the Vuelta a Espana and the overall Points competition at the Tour de France. In 1959, he won Paris-Nice and Stage 5 at the Tour and in 1960 Stages 4, 12, 17, 21 and another Points competition at the Tour and the overall General Classification at the Critérium International. After that, he concentrated (successfully) on criteriums and smaller races for a couple of years before returning to the Vuelta in 1962 and winning Stages 6, 13, 14 and 16, then went back to the criteriums and smaller stage races for several more successful years prior to his first retirement in 1970 before re-emerging with the West German Rokado team for five months in 1972.

Graczyk's nickname was Popoff, which René de Latour said was on account of his habit of "popping off" the front of the peloton to mount solo breaks and win races. Sadly, American-born de Latour's French was not quite good enough for him to know the rather less cheery real reason - it's a racist slang term for anyone of Polish heritage.

Livio Trapè
Livio Trapè, born on this day four days after Graczyk, was a highly successful Italian track rider whom many people believed would, like Graczyk, go on to even greater triumphs in road racing during the 1960s. However, despite numerous riders who have excelled in both disciplines, great skill in one cannot always be carried over to the other - as would prove to be the case here. Trapè rode in three editions of the Giro d'Italia (1961, 1962, 1964) but failed to finish each, came 73rd at Milan-San Remo in 1961 and 64th in 1962 and 45th overall at the Vuelta a Espana in 1966. His one moment of road race glory came at the Giro di Lombardia in 1962, when he finished in second place behind Jo de Roo.

Nico van Gageldonk, born today in 1913
Other cyclists born on this day: Roland Bezamat (France, 1928); Nico van Gageldonk (Netherlands, 1913, died 1995); Li Wenhao (China, 1989); Satomi Wadami (Japan, 1987); Jacqui Nelson (New Zealand, 1965); Knud Jacobsen (Denmark, 1914, died 1987); Herbert Francis (USA, 1940); Latauro Chávez (Argentina, 1966); August Rieke (Germany, 1935); Harry Jackson (Great Britain, 1941); Arnaldo Benfenati (Italy, 1924, died 1986); Aleksey Markov (USSR, 1979); Donald Sheldon (USA, 1930); Pelle Kil (Netherlands, 1971); William Freund (USA, 1941); Rok Drašler (Yugoslavia, 1979); Ramón Hoyos (Colombia, 1932); Petr Kocek (Czechoslovakia, 1952).

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