Saturday, 12 October 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 12.10.2013

Giovanni Gerbi, winner of the first
Giro di Lombardia
On this day in 1905, the Giro di Lombardia was held for the very first time. It covered 230.5km starting and ending at Milan and was won by Giovanni Gerbi. The parcours passed the little chapel of the Madonna del Ghisallo where legend says a medieval count was saved from bandits when he saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary. Many years later, a local priest suggested that the Madonna be made the patron saint of cyclists; this was subsequently confirmed by the Pope and the chapel now contains a cycling museum that includes among its exhibits numerous bikes, yellow jerseys and an eternal flame in memory of riders who have died while racing.

Dave Lloyd
Dave Lloyd, born in Oswestry, Great Britain on this day in 1949, began racing in 1969 and only three years later had come second in the amateurs' version of the GP des Nations and won a GP Tell. In 1973 he turned professional with Ti-Raleigh and, with Phil Bayton, was third at the Trofeo Barrachi behind two-man teams Felice Gimondi and Martìn Emilio Rodríguez Gutiérrez and Davide Boifava and Gösta Pettersson - who, between them, listed a Tour de France, a Vuelta a Espana, four Giri d'Italia, four Vueltas a Colombia and numerous National Championships among their achievements. Yet, the following year, Lloyd preferred to remain in Britain, riding and winning British races despite having proved himself capable of competing in Europe. He did the same for most of 1975, though also picked up third place at a criterium in Buggenhout, Belgium.

In 1976 Lloyd was diagnosed with a heart condition, forcing his retirement. However, two years later he returned and was second at a race in Australia; according to legend, he won 125 of the 133 races in which he took part over the next subsequent six years both as an amateur and then, from 1984 when he joined Raleigh-Weinmann, in a new lease of life as a professional. He remained with Raleigh through 1985 before forming his own team equipped with frames he built himself, then retired for a second time in 1987. 22 years later in 2009, when he was 60 years old, he planned to make another return by entering the Derby Mercury race; he ultimately decided not to do so as he'd have been competing against a younger rider he coached.

Since 2008, Lloyd has been the organiser of the David Lloyd Megachallenge, a cyclosportive event held annually in North-East Wales and which includes some of the toughest climbs in the Llangollen area, among them the Horseshoe Pass, Bwlch y Groes and Bwlch Penbarras (Bwlch y Groes was once renowned as the most challenging climb in the Tour of Britain or Milk Race, as it was then known; both roads are as steep as 25% - steeper than Alto de l'Angliru - in places).

Baden Cooke
Baden Cooke
Born in Benalla, Australia on this day in 1978, Baden Cooke started racing at the age of 11 and turned professional with Mercury in June 2000. With an impressive turn of speed in a sprint he immediately did well in Australian and American races, winning a National Madison Championship and stages at the Cascade Classic, Herald Sun Tour and Sea Otter as well as the General Classification at the Valley of the Sun and the Wendy's Classic during that time, but initially found the level of competition in Europe to be too high and didn't do as well in cycling's historic home as he had hoped. He soon learned his trade, however, and after winning two stages at the Tour de l'Avenir in September 2001 he went on to win four European races including the prestigious Dwars door Vlaanderen early the next year. Riding for French team La Française des Jeux gave him the opportunity to take part in the Tour de France for the first time a few months later: he finished top ten seven times, with a best result of second place on Stage 20. When he rode at the Herald Sun Tour that Autumn he was given a hero's welcome - and his fans were ecstatic when he won.

In 2003, he returned to the Tour. He finished top ten seven times again, but this time he won Stage 2 and twice finished second; more importantly his results on other stages were better than in 2002 and as a result he won the Points competition, beating his fellow Australian Robbie McEwen of Lotto-Domo by just two points. He won the Jayco Bay Classic in 2004 and came third at the Tour Down Under, but was not as competitive at the Tour due to basing his season around the Olympics and came 12th in the Points competition (which McEwen won). Unfortunately, the Olympics didn't go well for him and he failed to finish the road race.

Cooke rode the Giro d'Italia for the first time in 2005, but didn't finish the race. In the Points competition at the Tour, he was ninth - one of four Australians to make it into the top ten - but he didn't win anything until September, when he beat Luca Paolini to the line in Stage 1 at the Tour of Poland; he then added two stages at the Herald Sun Tour before the year came to and end. He stated away from the Grand Tours after signing to Unibet in 2006, then again in 2007 when the team was not invited to any of the three following a row with Tour owners the Amaury Sports Organisation - though he did manage eight victories in smaller races during this period. Unibet pulled out of cycling at the end of 2007, partly as a result of the row and partly due to the Operacion Puerto doping scandal, at which point most of the riders moved on to Vacansoliel. Cooke chose to go to the British team Barloword instead; he had a reasonably successful year with stage wins at the Jayco, Clásica Internacional de Alcobendas y Villalba and Herald Sun but didn't feel at home so, in 2009, he joined his ex-Unibet comrades at Vacansoleil. His results that year were good, but it passed without victory and in 2010 he moved again to Saxobank, where he found things more to his liking and developed a close relationship with his teamates, including the Schleck brothers, legendary time trial specialist Fabian Cancellara and the universally popular Jens Voigt. He won twice in his first year with them, then stayed for 2011 and came fifth at the Dwars door Vlaanderen, tenth at Gent-Wevelgem and 22nd in the hardest, harshest and most unforgiving Classic Paris-Roubaix, where mere presence at the start line bestows hero status - not bad at all for a rider who'd once feared he didn't have what it takes to make it in European cycling.

Late in 2011, news emerged that for the time in cycling history, there was to be an Australian ProTour team - GreenEDGE - in 2012. Many of Australia's greatest riders wanted to be a part of it, but only the very best were selected - Cooke was one of them.

Caruso at the Giro, 2012
Damiano Caruso
Born in Sicily on this day in 1987, Damiano Caruso began picking up good results as a junior and then in Under-23 races from 2005, including a gold medal at the U-23 Nationals in 2008 - which brought him a professional contract with the Irish LPR Brakes team (consisting entirely of Italian riders) for 2009. That year, he won Stage 2 at the Baby Giro.

LPR dissolved at the end of the year, from the ashes grew De Rosa-Stac Plastic - another Irish team with all Italian riders and management. With them, Caruso picked up sufficiently good results to attract the attentions of Liquigas-Cannondale, signing to them for 2011 and finishing a stage at the Vuelta a Espana in third place. Unfortunately, it turned out that CONI had been taking an interest in him too, and they requested a two-year ban, backdated to December the previous year, for a doping offence that had taken place in 2007. They were half-successful - Caruso was given a backdated one-year ban, and stripped of his results during that period. Admirably, Liquigas did not sack him on the spot, reasoning that as the offence had taken place four years ago and there was no evidence that he had doped while with the team he deserved to be kept on. He repaid their faith with fifth place in the Youth category and 24th in the General Classification at the Giro d'Italia and third place at the Tour of Britain in 2012. In 2013, he was 19th overall in the Giro d'Italia.

Knut Knudsen
Knut Knudsen, born in Levanger, Norway on this day in 1950, was Junior National Champion in Pursuit in 1966 and 1967 and Road Racing in 1968. Racing at Elite level from 1969, he won the National Championship titles in the 1km time trial and Pursuit, then in the 1km TT, Pursuit, Road Racing and Individual Road Time Trial in 1972 - and to prove that this was due to his sheer talent, rather than a lack of it among other Norwegian riders of the time, he won the gold medal in the Pursuit at the Olympics too. He kept all four National titles in 1974 and added the World Pursuit Championship for good measure.

In 1975, Knudsen won Stage 1 at the Giro d'Italia and finished two stages at the Tour de France in third place; at the 1977 Giro he won Stage 9. In 1979 he won Tirreno-Adriatico and Stage 10 at the Giro, then at the 1981 Giro he won the Prologue and Stages 13 and 23

Mehdi Sohrabi

Mehdi Sohrabi, born in Zanjan, Iran on this day in 1981, was National Champion in Road Racing and Individual Time Trial in 2005, Asian Road Race Champion in 2006 and 2010, National Individual Time Trial Champion in 2009 and overall winner of the UCI Asia Tour in 2011. Having ridden for Iranian teams since 2005, he joined Belgian World Tour team Lotto-Belisol for 2012.

Erik Mohs, born in Leipzig, East Germany on this day in 1986, rode with Sebastian Forke to become Junior National Madison Champions in 2004, then with Marcel Kalz to become Under-23 European Madison Champions in 2007. That year, he also signed up the Milram Continental team after scoring good results on both track and road in 2006; he won six stages or races on the road that season, then another the following year. He rode with Nutrixxion-Sparkasse from 2009 to 2011 but didn't win anything for the first two years; he did, however, take a bronze at the World Military Road Race Championship in 2009 and a bronze for the Madison and silver for the Points race at the Nationals in 2010; then in 2011 he won a stage at the Tour of Bulgaria and in 2012, riding for Jenatec, at the Oder Rundfahrt.

Paul Depaepe, born in Deurne, Begium on this day in 1931, won the National Individual Pursuit Championship as an amateur in 1953 (along with a stage at the Under-23 Route de France), then in the Elite class in 1954 and 1955. He was also National Stayers Champion, again in the Elite class, in 1957, 1959 and 1961; European Stayers Champion in 1961 and 1962 and World Stayers Champion in 1957. In 1965 his career was brought to an end by a crash that left him with three cracked vertebrae; he continued his involvement in track cycling by becoming a Derny rider.

Luciano Borgognoni, born in Gallarate, Italy on this day in 1951, was World Military Road Race Champion in 1972 and National Pursuit Champion in 1974. In 1977 he won Stages 2b and 22 at the Giro d'Italia.

Born in Oberriet, Switzerland on this day in 1949, René Savary was Swiss National Champion in Points racing in 1971 and 1972, Omnium in 1975 and Stayers in 1976 and 1978. He also won stages at the Tour de Suisse in 1976 and 1979. Since 2009, he has served on the management committee of the BMC Racing Team.

Born in Giussano, Italy on this day in 1984, Marco Aurelio Fontana won the bronze medal in the Cross Country Mountain Bike race at the 2012 Olympics.

Other cyclists born on this day: Szilvia Szabolcsi (Hungary, 1977); Greg Fraine (New Zealand, 1962); Cristóbal Silva (Chile, 1979); Günther Kriz (Austria, 1940); Omar Haji Saad (Malaysia, 1949); Henry Cuevas (Colombia, 1954); Aleksejs Jurjevs (Latvia, 1909, died 1985); Roderick Chase (Barbados, 1967); Martin Hrbáček (Czechoslovakia, 1970); Enrique Demarco (Uruguay, 1923); Luis Serra (Uruguay, 1935).

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