Happy birthday to Joop Zoetemelk, born in Rijpwetering on this day in 1946 and the winner of one Tour de France (1980), one Vuelta a Espana (1979), one World Road Championship (1985) and two National Road Championships (1971 and 1973).
In addition, Joop won many other races - but perhaps his greatest achievement was that he completed a record 16 Tours, coming second in six of them. 16 Tours started was a record until George Hincapie started his seventeenth in 2012 (Hincapie completed 16, but has had three results disqualified after admitting doping; Zoetemelk provided positive samples at the Tour in 1977 and again in 1979 but, due to the far less stringent regulations of the time, faced little punishment).
At the Midi Libre in 1974, Zoetemelk collided at high speed with a parked car near to the finish line, suffering serious injuries including a fractured skull that left him close to death. He recovered in time to start the 1975 season, but then contracted meningitis - although he went on to enjoy many more successes, including his 1985 World Championship (he's the oldest man ever to have won it), many consider that he was never able to quite live up to the promise he'd once shown as a result of his injuries and illness. Nevertheless, he may well have won another Tour had his career not have overlapped those of Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, and there are those who claim that he wouldn't have won in 1980 had Hinault not have abandoned due to chronic tendinitis. Zoetemelk's response to that is wise: "Surely winning the Tour de France is a question of health and robustness. If Hinault doesn't have that health and robustness and I have, that makes me a valid winner."
After his retirement from racing, he worked as directeur sportif for Superconfex, the team that became Rabobank. He remained with Rabobank for ten years until 2006 when he announced his departure from the world of cycling at the Vuelta a Espana. Joop's full name is Hendrik Gerardus Jozef Zoetemelk. His son Karl (with Françoise Duchaussoy, daughter of Jacques) is a champion mountain bike rider.
Laurent Roux is a retired cyclist born in Cahors, France on this day in 1972. An immediately likable character, Roux was banned from racing for six months in 1999 after he tested "non-negative" for amphetamines during the Fleche Wallonne and was selected by his team to ride that year's Tour de France ("non-negative" is a term used when the A-sample provided is positive but the B-sample cannot confirm the result). He failed another test in 2004 and this time was handed a four-year suspension which, at his age, effectively spelled the end of his professional career.
In 2006 he decided to make a full confession and come clean - or, as one newspaper put it, "he emptied his bag" - at a trial in Bordeaux into a ring of some 23 riders accused of supplying and/or using Belgian Mix or Pot Belge (sometimes also known as "crazy person mix"), a combination of cocaine, heroin, amphetamine, various analgesics and caffeine that was used recreationally in cycling, apparently first by team mechanics and later by some riders. It was Roux's confession that brought the infamous mixture and its use to widespread attention.
(image credit: Eric Houdas CC BY-SA 3.0)
A representative of the French Cycling Federation asked if he had used drugs during his stage wins at the Tour de l'Avenir, Paris-Nice, Classique des Alpes and Giro d'Italia. He confessed that in addition to Belgian Mix, he had used testosterone, growth hormones, cortisone and EPO.
(image credit: Thomas Ducroquet CC BY-SA 3.0)
Katie Compton, born in Wilmington, USA on this day in 1978, is the most successful American cyclo cross rider of all time, holding the National Championship title from 2004 to 2010, seven consecutive years (thus beating Alison Dunlap's record of five consecutive years from a total of six wins). In 2007, she became the first US female rider to achieve a podium finish at the World Cyclo Cross Championships, finishing behind Maryline Salvetat. In 2011, she won the Plzeň round of the season-long UCI Cyclo Cross World Cup; in 2012 she won the National Cyclo Cross Championship again and was third behind Daphny van den Brand and Marianne Vos in the World Cup, in addition to winning numerous races. In 2013, Compton won the National Championship once again, then won the World Cup and came second behind Marianne Vos at the World Championships
Like many cyclo crossers, Compton is also a talented mountain biker and has won a series of short track National races. In addition, she acts as Tandem partner to blind athlete Karissa Whitsell and with her has shared many wins, including four medal-winning rides at the 2004 Paralympic Games.
|Vic Sutton, riding for|
Libera-Grammont in 1960
Born in Thorne, Yorkshire on this day in 1935, Sutton has been so entirely forgotten today that Cycling Archives doesn't list a palmares for him and he has no page on Wikipedia, but his natural talent in the mountains, where he could keep turning a low gear at high revolutions per minute just like Gaul did, enabled him to climb from 109th place at the end of the first week of the Tour to 37th by the finish; on the Puy de Dôme time trial he recorded a time that remained the fastest for an hour and might have finished in the top ten in Paris had he not have shared Bahamontes' terror of descending - once over the summit, he seized up and lost large chunks of the time he'd gained on the way up.
He returned to the Tour in 1960, another year older and wiser and believed by some to now be in a position to beat the Eagle and the Angel, but his season up to the race had been too hard and he suffered a minor heart attack in Stage 18, the Tour's last day in the Alps. His doctor ordered him to give up racing immediately, but Sutton chose to continue to the end of the season. He continued cycling for pleasure for the remainder of his life, which ended on the 29th of July in 1999. Alongside Robinson, he was one of the first riders to show the world that British cyclists could compete at the highest level of the sport, and he should be far better known than he is today.
Happy birthday to Joey McLoughlin, "the English Jens Voigt," who was born on this day in 1964 in Liverpool. Joey first found fame as a junior when his aggressive riding style and fierce attacks brought him to the attention of the cycling magazines and he was soon lauded as British cycling's greatest hope. He went on to win two Tours of Britain (in 1986, when it was known as the Milk Race and in 1987 when it had become the Kellogg's Tour of Britain), but his career never quite reached the heights expected due to numerous injuries, tendinitis preventing him from riding in the 1987 Tour de France. He retired in 1991.
On this day in 2010, Anna Meares set a new Australian Women's Record of 10.985" in the Flying 200m Time Trial.
Twins Chow Kwong Choi and Chow Kwong Man were born in Hong Kong on this day in 1943. They rode together in the Individual Road Race and 100km Time Trial at the 1964 Olympics; Choi also rode in the 4000m Individual Pursuit.
Steve Hegg, born in Dana Point, California on this day in 1963, became the rider to win the US National Time Trial Championship three times in 1996 after winning in 1990 and 1995. He was National Road Race Champion in 1994 and won gold and silver medals at the 1984 Olympics.
Other cyclists born on this day: Jan Plantaz (Netherlands, 1930, died 1974); Isabelle Gautheron (France, 1963); No Do-Cheon (South Korea, 1936); Emile Waldteufel (USA, 1944); Bert Gayler (Great Britain, 1881, died 1917); David Spencer (Great Britain, 1964); Juan Arias (Colombia, 1964); Francisco Elorriaga (Spain, 1947); Pavel Camrda (Czech Republic, 1968); Thorstein Stryken (Norway, 1900, died 1965); Jean-Pierre Boulard (France, 1942); Arne Berg (Sweden, 1909, died 1997); Paul Backman (Finland, 1920, died 1995); Steve Poulter (Great Britain, 1954); Kwong Chi Yan (Hong Kong, 1956).