|Crupelandt in 1912|
To mark Paris-Roubaix's centenary in 1996, the commune of Roubaix laid a 300m stretch of cobbles along the centre of the Avenue Alfred Motte on the final approach to the velodrome that hosts the finish line. Set among the cobbles are inscribed stones commemorating all of the riders to have won what has become known as the hardest race in cycling, which has caused it to become popularly known as Chemin des Géants, Road of Giants; its official name is Espace Charles Crupelandt.
Horner began 2004 with another US team, Webcor, and won Redlands, the Sea Otter, the Tour de Toona and the National Racing Calendar. In October he received an invitation to join Saunier Duval-Prodir and, four years after his previous attempt failed, he returned to European racing. This time he was a very different and vastly more experienced rider - at the Tour de Suisse he won Stage 6 and was second in the King of the Mountains, then he went to the Tour de France and finished two stages in the top ten before coming 33rd overall. He went to Davitamon-Lotto for 2006 and won Stage 1 at the Tour de Romandie, finished the Tour de France in 64th place and the Vuelta a Espana in 20th, then came 15th at the Tour and 36th at the Vuelta the next year.
|Horner in 2011|
In 2010 Horner joined RadioShack, the team for which he still rides, and won the Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco before taking ninth place at the Critérium du Dauphiné; he also made his return to the Tour de France and finished in 10th place overall. In 2011, aged 40, he won the Tour of California, then in 2012 he was second at Tirreno-Adriatico and 13th at the Tour de France.
By the end of the 2012 season when, now that he was aged 41, it looked as though career would soon reach its end, much to the disappointment of the many fans who believe that he deserved a Grand Tour victory.
Then, in 2013, something quite simply remarkable happened - Horner won the Vuelta a Espana, thus becoming the oldest man to have ever won a Grand Tour. He did it in spectacular style, attacking hard during the last kilometre of Stage 3, becoming the oldest rider to ever win a Grand Tour stage (and the oldest to lead the General Classification, though Vincenzo Nibali took the lead the following day). Then he beat that record by winning Stage 10, which gave him an overall advantage of 43" - until the next day, when he fell into fourth place overall and Nibali once again took over. By finishing Stage 14 in third place (behind winner Daniele Ratto and Nibali) he moved up into second overall again, but with a 50" deficit to Nibali, which he reduced to 28" in Stage 16 and then 3" in Stage 18. In Stage 19 he finished in fifth place, 6" ahead of 9th place Nibali, and once again was leading the race, this time with an advantage of 3". Second place 28" ahead of Nibali on Stage 20 turned that into a 37" advantage and, with the final stage into Madrid traditionally a ceremonial affair without challenges to the leading rider, the race was his. He had also taken second place in the Points and King of the Mountains competitions, as well as first in the Combination classification that measures a rider's performance across all other classifications.
In January 2014, it was announced that Horner, by then 42 years old, had signed to Lampre-Merida for the forthcoming season.
Beat Breu, born in St. Gallen, Switzerland on this day in 1957, won the Tour de Suisse in 1981 and again in 1989. He also enjoyed some success in the Grand Tours, winning Stage 20 and finishing eighth overall at the Giro d'Italia in 1981, then Stages 13 and 16 (on the Alpe d'Huez) at the Tour de France a year later for sixth place overall; and in cyclo cross - he was National Champion in 1988 and 1994.
Nariyuki Masada, born in Sendai, Japan on this day in 1983, was second at the National Road Race Championship in 2012. He will ride for the Cannondale ProCycling team, the successor to Liquigas-Cannondale, in 2013.
Alessando Zanardi, known as Alex, was a successful racing car driver from the late 1990s until a crash in 2001 resulted in the amputation of both his legs. Nevertheless, he was racing again less than two years later and also later took up handcycling. At the 2012 Paralympics in London, he won the gold medals for the Individual Road Race and Time Trial and a silver in the Team Relay; his performance later being declared one of the top twelve highlights of the Games.
Art Longsjo Jnr., born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts on this day in 1931, rode for an hour and a half to get to the first race he ever entered and then once there won the 1-mile, 3-mile and 25-mile events; he was also a successful speed skater and, in 1956, competed in the cycling at the Summer Olympics and the skating at the Winter Olympics. In 1958, when he was 26, he won the Tour of Somerville but shortly afterwards he died in a road accident - the inaugural Fitchburg Longsjo Classic was organised in his memory two years later and has been held every year since.
Otto Weckerling, who was born in Kehnert, Germany on this day in 1910, dreamed of becoming a professional rider when he was a child. The heavy bike he used to ride to get to the farm where he worked as an apprenticeship gave him the legs to become one: he won his first race in 1927, beating his closest rival by four minutes, seven years later took second place at the Amateur National Championships - which earned him a contract with the Dürkopp team. In 1937 Weckerling won Stage 8 at the Tour de France and the General Classification at the Tour of Germany, then he won Stage 17 at the Tour de France in 1938 before the Second World War brought the race to a temporary end. He survived the conflict and, realising what lay ahead following the establishment of the German Democratic Republic and despite having recently finished building a new home, he moved his family from Madgeburg in the East to Dortmund in the West in 1950. Only weeks afterward, free movement in the Soviet-controlled GDR became impossible.
Other cyclists born on this day: Toivo Hörkkö (Finland, 1898, died 1975); Arturo García (Mexico, 1946); Mats Gustafsson (Sweden, 1957); Hiromi Yamafuji (Japan, 1944, died 1984); József Peterman (Hungary, 1947); Joseph Evouna (Cameroon, 1952); Alexis Méndez (Venezuela, 1969); Carlos Roqueiro (Argentina, 1944); Sven Höglund (Sweden, 1910, died 1995); Lionel Kent (New Zealand, 1928).
Though something of a hippy, his essays on what he calls The New World ("simple living, organic gardening, T-groups, natural childbirth, progressive education, and lots of adventure") are well-thought-out and based largely on common sense; as when he advises that those who live in some parts of the USA and wish to go foraging for wild foods in the forest do so only with an experienced guide - having actually lived the sort of life he advocated, his concept of the "harmony of nature" was somewhat more practical than most who share his ideals and left him under no illusion that hippies are not likely to be viewed as tasty and easy meals by bears.
Kifer completed numerous tours thousands of miles long in his life, but was only six miles from his home when he was killed by a drunk driver on the 14th of September in 2003.
"One day, returning to Alabama by bike, I stopped to wash my clothes in Roanoke, Virginia. Two fellows were also doing laundry. They admired my courage and physical fitness, and one of them said, 'I'd like to do something like that, if I were as young as you are.' 'How old are you?' I asked. He said, 'forty-three.' I said, 'I'm almost fifty-one' ... I never lift weights, I never condition my abs, I never stretch, I never diet, I seldom see a doctor, I just walk and ride my bike ... Cycling keeps me lean, fit and healthy, and happy. I know that my own move back to the bike was the best decision I ever made." - Ken Kifer, 23.10.1945-14.09.2003