Thursday 31 October 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 31.10.2013

Jeannie Longo
Jeannie Longo at the Women's Challenge, 2000
In 2012, when Jeannie Longo's husband Patrice Ciprelli confessed to buying EPO only a few months after she had found herself in trouble with the French federation following a missed anti-doping test, many predicted that her racing days were coming to a close. If that has been the case, and regardless of whether Longo is a doper or not (she certainly was in 1987 when she tested positive for ephidrine and received a one-month ban), it would have been the end of one of the most remarkable careers in the history of cycling - Longo, who had added the Elite National Individual Time Trial Championship to a list now numbering 59 National Championship titles in 2011, was 53 years old; she had won her first National Championship 32 years earlier and when she rode at the Olympics in 2008 many of her rivals had not yet been born when she took part in her first Games in 1984 - the first time that women's cycling was featured as an Olympic sport.

Longo was born on this day in 1958 in Annecy in Haute-Savoie, home to several famous skiing resorts; it was in skiing that she first made her name as an athlete when she won a National Schools' Championship followed by three University Championships. Ciprelli, at that time her coach, thought she had the potential to achieve even more in cycling and encouraged her to give the sport a try; months later she won the National Road Race Championship, then successfully defended it a year later. The year after that, when she won both the National Road Race and Individual Time Trial titles, she was also second in the World Road Race Championship. She would keep the National Road Race title until 1989, the year she decided to announce her retirement; having later changed her mind she then won both back in 1992 after being refused a place on the team going to the Worlds the previous year due to her own refusal to use the pedal approved by the National Cycling Federation. In 1993 she rode with the winning squad in the Team Time Trial event at the Nationals and did so again in 1994 and in 1995, when she also won the Road Race and the Individual Time Trial at the Nationals and the World Championships. The following year she retained the World ITT title and won the Road Race at the Olympics; in 1997 she won the Worlds ITT title for a third consecutive year. In 1998 she won the National Road Race and Pursuit Championships, doing so again in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002, then lost the Road Race but kept the ITT title in 2003, lost the ITT but won back the Road Race in 2004, lost both in 2005, won both back in 2006, lost them again in 2007 and won them back again in 2008, then won the ITT in 2009, the Road Race in 2010 and the ITT in 2011. On the track, she was National Champion in Pursuit from 1980 to 1989 and again in 1992, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2005 and 2008, in Points in 1986, 1987, 1988, 1992, 2002, 2006 and 2011 and World Champion in Pursuit in 1986 and 1989 and in Points in 1989.

Longo racing in 2009
Longo also enjoyed extraordinary success in other one-day races and stage races, especially at the Tour de France Féminin - she did not take part in the first edition in 1984, but she was second in 1985 and 1986 and won for the next three consecutive years, was second when the race returned in 1992 following a two-year hiatus, second again in 1993 and 1995 and then third in 1996. She also won the won the Coors Classic in 1986 and 1987, the Tour of Norway in 1987, the Vuelta a Colombia in 1988, the Tour de l'Aude in 1987, 1988 and 1993, the Women's Challenge in 1991 and 1999, Chrono des Herbiers in 1992, 1995, 2000, 2009 and 2010, the Emakumeen Bira in 1995, the Tour de Bretagne in 1993 and 1995, the Chrono Champenois in 1992, 1995, 1996 and 1999 and the Trophée des Grimpeurs in 2001, 2004 and 2007, 2008 and 2009.

As is frequently the case in women's cycling, probably because so many of the athletes begin cycling whilst at university, Longo has distinguished herself in academia as well as in sport; she holds two degrees in mathematics and a PhD in sports management and is a noted pianist. She is also known as something of an eccentric: this proved to be an important factor in the investigation into the missed doping tests when court heart that the home she shares with Ciprelli does not contain a computer and she has neither an email account nor a mobile phone, with the case eventually being dismissed when it was found that the French anti-doping agency, with which she keeps in contact via letter, had not informed her that she remained on a list of riders subjected to out-of-competition tests.

Ciprelli confessed that the EPO was for his personal use and as a result faced prosecution for customs offences; Longo was cleared in November 2011 and thus was not prosecuted (one year later, American cyclist Inga Thompson publicly accused Longo during an interview broadcast by the XEPRS-AM radio station os San Diego, USA, of using drugs in the latter years of her career), but rode a much-reduced calendar in 2013 and achieved only one notable result, second place at the GP Luzerne in Switzerland. It is not known if she will continue in 2014.

Vera Koedooder
Koedooder wearing the jersey of her
2012 team, Sengers Ladies CT
Born in Hoorn, Netherlands on this day in 1983, Divera Maria "Vera" Koedooder had already tried her hand at athletics, ice skating and roller blading before she took up cycling and became Junior World Points Race and Junior National Individual Time Trial Champion in 2000. She then kept both titles and added the Junior National Road Race Championship in 2001, before going on in 2002 to win the Under-23 Points Race at the European Championships.

That year, she proved herself able to perform well in road races at Elite level, winning a stage at the GP Boekel and four criteriums in the Netherlands and Belgium that same season. In 2003 she won the Flevotour; she won it again in 2005 and then picked up numerous victories in criteriums up to the present. From 2006, she began picking up more good track results including gold medals for the Pursuit (2006), Points (2008) and Omnium (2010) at the Nationals, also winning a number of World Cup events. In 2011, riding with Julia Soek, Lisanne Soemanta and Marit Huisman, Koedooder won the Dutch Club's Team Time Trial Championships; she was no stranger to the podiums that year (and missed out by seconds numerous times), but otherwise the season passed without victory. In 2012, she once again went without a win, but a series of second and third places at several races - third on Stage 2 at the Czech Tour, at the Ronde van Bakkerstreet and in the Points Race and Team Pursuit in the Omnium at Revolution in Manchester - showed that she still retained enormous potential, and in 2013 she proved it with victory at the GP de Dottignies, the Omloop van Borsele and Stage 2 at the Tour de Bretagne. A full list of her 2013 victories can be found here.

Sengers, Koedooder's team since 2012, will not continue into 2014; at the time of writing it is not known where she will go. However, she remains a rider to watch, and may not have achieved her greatest victories yet.

Lisandra Guerra, a Cuban track cyclist born on this day in 1987, won the 500m Time Trial and the Sprint at the Junior World Championships in 2005. She went on to specialise in the 500m TT, also winning it at the PanAmerican Championships the same year, at the Moscow round of the World Cup in 2006, at the Los Angeles, Aigle and Beijing rounds of the World Cup and at the PanAmerican Championships (where she also won the Sprint) in 2007, at the Los Angeles round of the World Cup and at the World Championships in 2008, at the Copenhagen round of the World Cup in 2009 and in the Beijing round of the World Cup and at the PanAmerican Championships in 2012. In 2013, Guerra won the 500m, Individual Sprint and Keirin at the Pan-American Championships in February, then in October won the same three events and the Team Pursuit at the Copa Cuba de Pista.

Claudio Michelotto, born in Italy in this day in 1942, won Tirreno-Adriatico in 1968 and the Giro di Sardegna and Stage 21, the King of the Mountains and second place overall at the Giro d'Italia in 1969. He took part in the Tour de France in 1967 and came 61st, then failed to finish in 1970 and 1971.

Antonio Cruz, born in Long Beach, California on this day in 1971, was US National Criterium Champion in 1999. Late in 2012, as part of USADA's investigation into doping at the US Postal team that led to Lance Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France victories, David Zabriskie claimed that Cruz had illegally doped with testosterone in 2004.

William Walker, who was born in Subiaco, Australia on this day in 1985, won the Youth category at the Tour Down Under in 2006.

Other cyclists born on this day: Wally Happy (Great Britain, 1932); Wojciech Pawłak (Poland, 1969); Marios Athanasiadis (Cyprus, 1986); Sakie Tsukuda (Japan, 1985); Daniel Petrov (Bulgaria, 1982); Sylvain Bolay (France, 1963); Carlos Reybaud (Argentina, 1949); Rowan Peacock (South Africa, 1939); Radoslav Konstantinov (Bulgaria, 1983); Mehrdad Afsharian Tarshiz (Iran, 1954).

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