Friday, 30 August 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 30.08.2013

André Trousselier, 29.05.1887-10.04.1968
Today, Liège-Bastogne-Liège always takes place in late April but this was not always the case - it has been organised in Spring, Summer and even Autumn and, while there was a gap of fourteen years between the third and fourth editions, when the race reappeared on this day in 1908 it was the second consecutive edition to be held in August. The winner was Frenchman André Trousselier, who took 8h12'09" to score the first victory by a non-Belgian - and the last by a non-Belgian until 1930. His older brother Louis was more famous, having won the Tour de France in 1905.

Maurice Archambaud
Born in Paris on this day in 1906 and nicknamed Le Nabot, "The Dwarf," on account of his diminutive height, Maurice Archambaud was the envy of all cyclists for his enormous, heavily-muscled thighs. He used them to set a new Hour Record of 45.767km at Milan's famous Vigorelli velodrome in 1937 - it would not be bettered until Fausto Coppi managed 45.798km in 1942.

Archambaud was fantastically good at winning stages and would sometimes win them with a large enough margin to lead races. This happened  at the Tour de France in 1933 when he won Stages 1 and 11, getting himself into the maillot jaune for nine days, and again in 1936 when his Stage 4 victory and a series of good places saw him lead for five days. He also won stages at the Tour in 1935 (5a, 14b), 1937 (2) and 1939 (10B, 10C, 12B, 17B) and at the 1935 Giro d'Italia (14b), but suffered from an inconsistency that prevented him from achieving more in the Grand Tours. When circumstances went his way in a shorter stage race, however, he could do very well indeed - he won Paris-Nice in 1936 and 1939.

Natallia Tsylinskaya
Born in Minsk, USSR (now Belarus) on this day in 1975, Natallia Tsylinskaya began road racing when an instructor came to her school (and you can say what you want about Soviet Communism, but they were on the right tracks when they came up with the idea of sending people into schools to encourage the kids to start racing bicycles) and later started track cycling on the recommendation of a friend. Aged 14, she won a National Youth Championship; two years later she won bronze at the World Junior Championships.

Natallia Tsylinskaya
Following the fall of the USSR, which left athletes free to turn professional, Tsylinskaya was ready to move into the Elite ranks when she met Alexander Markovnichenko, a Ukrainian champion cyclist with whom she fell in love. They married and, in 1996, Tsylinskaya gave birth to a daughter. She had no intention of ever returning to cycling at that time and Markovnichenko apparently didn't want her to do so. However, he didn't oppose her training to be a sports instructor and she qualified in 1998. Later that year, the Belarusian Cycling Federation approached her in an attempt to persuade to start competing again. She had a choice - her husband or her sport, and she made the right decision.

Two years later, she won the 500m time trial and the sprint at the World Track Championships in Manchester, then she won them again in 2002 and won the 500m TT for a third time the year after that. In 2004 she won a bronze medal for same event at the Olympics, then she regained her 500m TT World title in 2005 and successfully defended it in 2006, also winning back the World Sprint Championship that year.

Javier Otxoa
Javier Otxoa in 2009
Javier Otxoa, a Basque born in Barakaldo on this day in 1974, won Stage 10 on Hautacam in freezing cold, wet conditions at the Tour de France in 2000, an achievement that instantly brought comparisons to Charly Gaul - the greatest climber of them all and winner of the 1958 Tour de France - and earned him second place in the overall King of the Mountains.

Seven months after the Tour ended, he and his twin brother Ricardo were on a training ride when a car ploughed into them. Ricardo was killed; Javier did not awake from his coma for a month and was left severely disabled for life. Just three years later, he qualfied for the Paralympics and won the road race, then took a silver  in the Pursuit race on the track. He was disqualfied from the Pursuit in 2008 when judges deemed him to have ridden too closely behind his opponent Darren kenny, with Kenny later expressing his disappointment in their decision because he'd been looking forward to trying himself against Otxoa; but he won the road time trial and came second in the road race.

Adam Bergman, born in the USA on this day in 1980, began competitive mountain biking in 1995, then moved into road racing a year later. In 2004 he tested positive for EPO, at first denying that he had never taken the drug, but later confessing during his subsequent two-year ban. He returned to racing in 2007.

Other cyclists born on this day: Luc de Smet (Belgium, 1957); Derk van Egmond (Netherlands, 1956); Aneta Hladíková (Czechoslovakia, 1984); Danny Clark (Australia, 1951); Federico Canuti (Italy, 1985); Enzo Cesario (Chile, 1980); Jesús Torres (Venezuela, 1954); Milan Zyka (Czechoslovakia, 1947); Alessandro Messina (Canada, 1941); Dorjpalamyn Tsolmon (Mongolia, 1957); Marissa van der Merwe (South Africa, 1978); Agustín Sebastiá (Spain, 1964); Diego Calero (Colombia, 1940).

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