|Coppino and Coppi|
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, 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, 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.
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.
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, 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|