(image: © James F. Perry CC BY-SA 3.0)
|Moeskops earned his
"Big Piet" nickname due to
Laurens ten Dam
Born in Zooidwolde, Netherlands on this day in 1980, Laurens ten Dam took third place at the Flèche du Sud in 1999 and joined Rabobank's GS3 development team in 2001. He would remain there for three seasons, learning his trade and preparing to try to make a career from professional cycling. By 2004, when the Bankgiroloterij team came calling with a contract, he felt ready and signed it.
He didn't win a single race that year, but the experience was worthwhile; also, he still showed promise and so was given a place on the new Shimano-Memory Corp team for 2005, formed by the merger of Bankgiroloterij and Shimano teams. He didn't win again that season, but he picked up two good results - third place at the Omloop der Kempen and at the Ster Elektrotoer - which brought a contract with Belgian team Unibet.com for 2006, and with them he won a Polish race. He stayed with the team when it relocated to Sweden in 2007 and, though further victory again eluded him, he managed two second places.
|Ten Dam (in the green, white and black of Belkin - as his
team would be known following Rabobank's decision to
leave professional cycling) leads on the Ventoux
Ten Dam had performed well in the early-season Spanish races the Vuelta a Murcia and Vuelta a Burgos in 2009 and 2010 respectively, which influenced team bosses to add him to the 2010 Vuelta a Espana squad and, while he did not finish, ninth on Stage 10 was his best Grand Tour stage finish to date and a sign of things to come, because right from the start of 2011 it was evident that he had clicked up a gear - he was fifth overall at the Tour Down Under, sixth overall at the Tour of Switzerland, eighth overall at the Tour de Suisse (and second in the King of the Mountains) before the Tour, where he rode well for his team and took 58th overall. In 2012 he showed some Classics promise with 12th at the Brabantse Pijl and later managed a tenth place stage finish at the Tour, his best so far, before coming 28th overall; then went back to the Vuelta a Espana where he finished Stage 1 in third place, three other stages in the top ten and consistently well on the remainder to finish up in eighth place overall. Thirteenth overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné, then fifth place on Stage 8 (and two top tens) and 13th place overall at the 2013 Tour de France suggest that ten Dam is a late bloomer - now 33, when most male riders are reaching the end of their best years, he might just be getting started.
|Choppy with some of his cyclists. The very short one in
the middle is Jimmy Michael, the others appear to be the
Linton brothers (Arthur in the fleur-de-lys jersey?)
Choppy was born in Coal Hey in Lancashire and inherited his nickname from his father, a sailor who when asked how the conditions on his latest voyage had been would always reply "choppy." He came to note as a runner, turning professional at the late age of 34 (sports at that time being the pursuit of wealthy gentlemen, which Choppy - raised single-handed by his mother after his father died - was not) and went to the USA in 1880 where he won 80 races.
In those days, there were no scientific anti-dope tests and so the sport relied on athletes and trainers being caught red-handed. Choppy never was and neither were any of the cyclists he trained, but there is some apparent evidence against him. A writer named Rudiger Rabenstein stated that Choppy's star rider Arthur Linton was "massively doped" during the 1896 Bordeaux-Paris race, and biography of the cyclist written after his death by an anonymous author who claimed to have known him well agreed. Also, Choppy's cyclists seem to have had a tendency to die young - very young, in some cases. Linton was only 24, his death being recorded variously as typhoid or strychnine poisoning (strychnine in small doses acts as a stimulant) and, eventually, considered the first doping-related death in any sport. Arthur's younger brother, also a cyclist, was 39 when he died, the cause once again being recorded as typhoid. Jimmy Michael, the Welsh-born 1895 World Champion, was also in Choppy's care, was 28 when he died in mysterious circumstances. No link to any form of doping, administered by the soigneur or otherwise, was ever proved (nor has been since) and at least one modern researcher has concluded that the deaths were in fact down to typhoid; but suspicions were sufficiently high for him to be banned from working in any capacity within professional cycling.
|Vélodrome Buffalo by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
On the bike - Jimmy Michael; with hat and greatcoat - sports
journalist Frantz Reichel; bending over to look in bag: the
notorious Choppy Warburton.
Lech Piasecki, born in Poznań, Poland, on this day in 1961, became both the first Polish rider and the first from the Eastern Bloc to wear the yellow jersey of the Tour de France when he led the General Classification during the 1987 edition of the race (note that Jean Stablinski never wore the maillot jaune and, having been born in France to Polish immigrants, took French citizenship when he was 16).
(image credit: Cycling Art)
In the 1987 Tour he came second in the prologue, beating many favourites and earning sufficient time to be race leader after the team time trial in Stage 2 and kept it for two stages. Unfortunately, he picked up a bug soon afterwards that gave him diarrhoea and he abandoned in Stage 7. He would be one of eight riders to wear the yellow jersey that year, a Tour record.
Happy birthday to Greg Minnaar, the South African three-time Downhill MTB World Champion. He was born in 1981 in Pietermaritzberg.
Today is also the anniversary of the birth of Bernhard Knubel (not to be confused with the rower born in 1938) in 1872. Knubel, who was born and died in Münster, was one of nine cyclists to enter the 100km race at the 1896 Olympics. He - along with seven others - did not finish.
It's the 85th anniversary of the birth of long-forgotten Eugene Telotte, who rode as Number 89 with Ile-de-France in the 1955 Tour de France. He did not finish.
Other births: Javier Gonzalez Barrera, Jose Luis Roldan Carmona, Laurent Colombatto, Petra Dijkman, Hubert Dupont, Andrea Graus), Bart Van Haaren, Amber Halliday, Yoshimitsu Hiratsuka), Tim Kerkhof, Kalle Kriit, Teng Ma, Christian Moberg Joergensen, Bokang Moshesa, Jason Perryman, Patrik Stenberg, Emi Wachi, Winston Williams, Malgorzata Zieminska.