Tuesday 12 November 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 12.11.2013

Grace Verbeke
It's well-known that many, perhaps even most professional female cyclists never intended to become professional cyclists, finding their way into the sport after taking up cycling as a means to maintain fitness in other sports and then discovering their talent for it. Grace Verbeke, born on this day in 1984, is an interesting example because, unlike many other riders, she comes from a family with links to cycling - her father is a successful triathlete and her mother a cyclist herself. However, Verbeke's athletic career is not rooted in cycling but in swimming - she competed in races for six years - and in athletics.

Grace Verbeke
Once it was apparent that she was a good rider, she was encouraged to take part in some Junior races and started to do well, including eighth place in the time trial at the Junior World Championships. She remained in education, earning a degree, before turning professional with Lotto-Belisol in 2006 - and won her first Elite race as well as coming second at the West Flanders Provincial Individual Time Trial Championships.

Verbeke stayed with Lotto-Belisol through to the end of 2010 and progressed throughout that time - in 2007, she won three races including the ITT at the West Flanders Championships, another three, along with two podium finishes at the Route de France in 2008 and then four in 2009 including another West Flanders Championships, Stage 1 at the Tour en Limousin and Stage 6 at the Tour de l'Ardeche, where she was second overall (she was also third at the Chrono Champenois and ninth at the World Road Race Championships). Early that season, she'd taken some good results at the tough Spring Classics - tenth at the Ronde van Vlaanderen and fifth at the Ronde van Drenthe; in 2010 she showed herself to be a true Flandrienne when she won the Ronde van Vlaanderen 3" ahead of a group many considered unbeatable, consisting as it did of Marianne Vos, Kirsten Wild, Emma Johansson and several other very strong riders. She was also won the Holland Hills Classic and third at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, fourth at the Flèche Wallonne, took three podium stage finishes at the Tour de l'Ardeche and won the National ITT Championships.

With her 2010 results, Verbeke had proved herself equal to the riders she'd beaten at the Ronde van Vlaanderen, taking her place among the best riders in the history of cycling - which brought the offer of a team leader position at TopSport Vlaanderen-Ridley for 2011. Her results that season were not quite as good as 2010, though ninth in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, eighth at the Trofeo Binda, seventh at the Ronde van Vlaanderen and victory at the Dwars door Westhoek before going on to come third overall at the Tour en Limousin and second at the National ITT Championship is extremely respectable by any standards.

On the 27th of October 2010, disaster struck - during a training ride, she was hit by a truck at Gistel, in Belgium, and was left with a broken pelvis, eye socket and jaw. Fortunately, she made a full recovery and, for 2013, rode for CycleLive Plus-Zannata; she will remain with the team, now known as Futurumshop.nl-Zannata, in 2014.

Peter Post
Post in 1960
Peter Post, who was born on this day in 1933, became the first Dutch rider to win Paris-Roubaix in 1964 and, in doing so, also won the Ruban Jaune for setting the fastest average speed in a race more than 200km long that year (45.131kph - which, by the way, has yet to be bettered in this race, though it has been beaten in several other events). Post was primarily a track rider who won 65 Six Day events, including Brussels in 1965 when he paired up with Tom Simpson, but he performed well on the roads too; winning the Ronde van Nederland in 1960, a National Road Race Championship in 1963 and 2nd place behind Eddy Merckx in the 1967 Flèche Wallonne.

Two years after he retired from competition in 1972, Post became directeur sportif of the legendary TI-Raleigh team that is sometimes said to have been the most successful in the history of cycling. His unrivaled knowledge of cycling and skill as a coach was enormously influential on the riders who passed through the team, including such legends as Hennie Kuiper, Gerrie Knetemann, Jan Raas and Joop Zoetemelk. Yet he also possessed a very sharp business sense - when Raleigh withdrew for racing, he managed to bring the vast multinational electronics manufacturer Panasonic on board and, with their funds, built up a powerful team around Phil Anderson, Eric Vanderaerden, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Olaf Ludwig and Maurizio Fondriest.

Post retired from team management in 1995, by which time he was ranked as the second most successful directeur sportif of all time, but later returned in an advisory capacity for Rabobank in 2005. He died on the 14th of January 2011, aged 77, in Amsterdam.

Alexander Serov in the
(image credit: Jack999
CC BY-SA 2.0)
Happy birthday to Alexander Serov, born in Vyborg on this day in 1982. The road and track cyclist won Stage 4 in the Fleche de Sud and shared first place at the Russian National Track Championships in Team Pursuit and Madison in 2011, riding for the Katusha trade team that year, then won Stage 2 at the Vuelta a Murcia with RusVelo in 2012.

Willem Thomas, born in Belgium on this day in 1956, won a  small number of criterium races, mostly in his home nation, during the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s. However, his best result was 3rd place in Stage 15 of the 1979 Giro d'Italia.

Happy birthday to Vacansoleil-DCM's Rob Ruijgh, born on this day in 1986 and fourth place overall in 2011's Four Days of Dunkirk.

Other cyclists born on this day: Giulia Bonetti, Nicole Callisto, Jorge Castelblanco, Andres Avelino Antuna Coro, Jinjie Gong, Gijs Van Hoecke, Shih Chang Huang, Ferdi Van Katwijk, Angela McClure, Anita Molcik, Irina Molicheva, Yohan Offredo, Maximo Rojas Romero, Linnea Sjoblom, Julien Taramarcaz.

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