Monday, 9 December 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 09.12.2013

Ashleigh Moolman
Moolman at the 2012 Olympics
Born in Pretoria, South Africa on this day in 1985, Ashleigh Moolman was inspired to begin her professional athletic career competing in triathlon by Carl Pasio, who is now her husband, after she'd earned her degree in chemical engineering. Running-induced injuries combined with the discovery that she performed much better in the cycling sections of her races persuaded her to concentrate on cycling and she rapidly came to the attention of the professional Lotto Ladies' team, which she joined in 2010. Within a year she'd won a silver medal at the National Individual Time Trial Championship and finished sixth at the testing Emakumeen Bira race in the Basque Country; then she impressed with four top five stage finishes and second place overall at the Tour de l'Aude before winning the Road Race at the African Championships.

2012 proved to be an even better year. She started by taking second place in the Time Trial and first in the Road Race at the National Championships, came fifth at La Flèche Wallonne, won Stage 4 and was third overall at the Tour de Free State, finished in the top ten on three stages and was tenth overall at the Giro Donne, was 16th in the Road Race at the Olympic Games, won Stage 2 and was second overall at the Tour de l'Ardèche and won the Individual Time Trial and the Road Race at the African Championships. In 2013, she retained the National Road Race title and also won the Time Trial, came third overall at the Flèche Wallonne, was second on Stage 1 at the GP Elsy Jacobs, finished the Tour Languedoc Roussillon in fourth place overall, finished the Emakumeen Saria in fifth place, finished four stages in the top ten (best: third, Stage 4) and eighth place overall at the Giro Rosa and was second overall at the Tour de l'Ardeche.

Moolman is known as an all-rounder who performs best on mountain stages; she has become a worthy opponent to Emma Pooley and Marianne Vos and it seems likely that she will win some of the most prestigious races on the women's calendar, with many who have followed her career so far - including me - predicting future gold at the World Championships. Her excellent race reports, published on her website, are some of the most articulate and intelligently-written around; hopefully she'll find time to continue writing them when she's at the very top level of her sport. She also has a Flickr account on which she publishes photos of support staff and race activities that fans rarely get to see.

Kateřina Nash
Kateřina Nash
Kateřina Hanušová - now Kateřina Nash - was born on this day in Prachatice, Czechoslovakia in 1977 and has enjoyed two successful athletic careers, in skiing from 1994 to 2003 (when she competed in two Winter Olympics) and since then in mountain biking and, primarily, cyclo cross. She first became famous for her cycling in 2010 when she won the Czech National Cyclo Cross Championship and a round of the UCI Cyclo Cross World Cup in Roubaix, beating Marianne Vos, then took 4th in the World Cyclo Cross Championship; however, she had been making a name for herself on the 'cross scene for some years by this point, having ridden for the Luna team since 2002 and won the the Portland 'cross race in 2006. She also became National MTB Cross Country Champion in 2007.

Nash took thirdrd in the 2011 World Championships where she was beaten by Katie Compton for the silver medal and Vos for the gold. In 2012 she won six races and in 2013, when she was 35, she won eight - and shows no sign of stopping now she's 36.

Ryder Hesjedal
(image credit: Glawster CC BY-SA 2.0
Ryder Hesjedal
Born in Victoria, British Columbia on this day in 1980, Ryder Hesjedal was a silver medalist in the 2001 Under-23 World Mountain Bike Cross Country Championship and again at the Elite Championship in 2003; then, with an apparently glittering career as a mountain biker ahead of him, he gave up the sport in favour of road cycling. It turned out to be a wise move because, having spent a few years with Rabobank, he went to US Postal and finished the Prologue at the Giro d'Italia in 18th place, then came third at the National Individual Time Trial Championship.

In 2006, riding with Phonak, Hesjedal was second at the National ITT Championship and impressed at the Vuelta a Espana with three top twenty stage finishes before abandoning the race in favour of the World Championships where he didn't perform well. Phonak closed down at the end of the year and Hesjedal had difficulties securing a new contract with another ProTour team, going instead to ProContinental HealthNet for 2007, the year he became Canadian Time Trial Champion. A year later he was riding with ProContinental Garmin-Chipotle, winners of Stage 1 at the Giro d'Italia - his first taste of Grand Tour glory and something that he apparently enjoyed because in 2009, by which time Garmin had become a ProTour team, he won Stage 12 at the Vuelta.

Still relatively inexperienced in the Grand Tours, Hesjedal surprised many with seventh place at the 2010 Tour de France; he had also become the subject of numerous newspaper articles when he was fourth over the finish line of Stage 17 at the summit of the Col du Tourmalet, revealing himself to have serious Grand Tour victory potential. That victory - the first ever by a Canadian rider - came in 2012 when, having performed well in the early-season stage races and at the Classics, he rode consistently well and took first place in the General Classification at the Giro d'Italia: after a good start, he was widely expected to lose significant time in the mountains; however, when he did not many began to predict that he would take the race leadership on the final day's time trial, his strongest discipline - among those to have their predictions proved correct was Joaquim Rodríguez, who had led the race up until Hesjedal took over.

Valentyna Karpenko, born in Mykolaiv, USSR on this day in 1972, won the Eko Tour Dookola Polski in 2002, the Krasna Lipa Tour Féminine in 2003 and became Ukrainian Road Race Champion in 2005.

Arie Hassink had many victories as an amateur and was just about to turn professional when he was diagnosed with a lung disease. On the advice of doctors, he remained an amateur for his entire career. However, he continued getting good results right up to retirement in 1983, including 2nd overall in the 1970 Tour of Britain. His son and daughter are both cyclists.

Ondřej Sosenka
Ondřej Sosenka, who was born in Prague on this day in 1975, was a rider who didn't need to stand on the top step of the podium to be head and shoulders above his rivals - at 200cm (6'6"), he's taller than Magnus Bäckstedt and "Big" Piet Moeskops. His track bike was fitted with custom 190mm cranks.

That didn't stop him aiming for the podium, however. He won the Tour of Slovakia in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2006; National Time Trial Championships in 2001 and 2002; the National Road Race Championship and the Tour of Poland in 2004 and, on the 19th of July 2005, set a new Hour Record at  49.700km.

Ondřej Sosenka - note that he isn't standing on a podium!
(image credit: Bartosz Senderek CC BY-SA 2.5)
In 2001, he was disqualified from the Peace Race after he failed a haematocrit test - a now-redundant anti-doping test that took account of an athlete's red blood cell population; a figure of 50% or greater being considered likely evidence the rider had been using EPO or had received a blood transfusion (also known a blood doping), either their own stored blood or someone else's - though he later swore to journalist Daniel Friebe that the postive result had been caused by dehydration. Then in 2008, a test at the National Championships revealed traces and metabolites of methamphetamine. His B-sample subsequently also tested positive for the banned stimulant and the rider was suspended, thus ending his professional career.

Italian Alberto Volpi, born in Saronno on this day in 1962, won the Young Rider Classification at the 1985 Giro d'Italia and formed part of the winning Team Time Trial at the 1995 Tour de France. He has been shown to have been a client of the notorious Dr. Francesco Conconi who used his expertise in developing new anti-doping tests to find performance-enhancing drugs that could not be detected.

Trent Klasna was born on this day in 1962 in Lantana, Florida. During his ten-year career, he won two Sea Otter Classics (1998, 2001), the Redlands Bicycle Classic (2001) and the Nature Valley Grand Prix (2003). He was also National Time Trial Champion in 2001.

Happy to Tamilla Abassova, the winner of silver medals at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the 2005 Track World Championships, in both cases for the Sprint. She was born in Moscow in 1982.

It's also the birthday of Chinese track cyclist Li Na, born in 1982, winner of the keirin event at the 2002 Track Worlds and the Sprint at the Asian Games in the same year.

Oscar Álvarez, 2009 National Road Race Champion of Columbia, was born on this day in 1977.

Erik Harry Stenqvist, born on the 25th of December in 1893, was a Swedish cyclist who represented his country at the 1920 Olympics and won a gold medal in the Individual Road Race and a silver in the Team Road Race. He died on this day in 1968.

Christian Pfannberger
Christian Pfannberger
(image credit:  Viribus unitis CC BY-SA 2.0)
Christian Pfannberger, born in Judenberg, Austria on this day in 1979, became Under-23 National Champion in 2001 and then Elite Champion in 2007. His career was punctuated by doping allegations - first in 2004 when a sample showed unusually high levels of testosterone, for which he received a two-year ban, and then again in 2009 when an out-of-season test revealed traces of EPO. The second test was originally declared non-negative, meaning the his B-sample had failed to confirm the positive result of his A-sample; which led to suspension from Team Katusha while the matter was investigated in May 2009.

In June, the B-sample was also shown to be positive and he was informed that a court hearing would be held within eight weeks and that, as a second offence, he would be likely to receive a ban from eight years to life - the Austrian National Anti-Doping Agency sought and won the stricter punishment. The rider appealed the ban but was unsuccessful, largely as a result of a new charge brought in April 2010 that he had sold doping products to other cyclists. He maintains that he has never used nor sold performance-enhancing drugs of any kind.

Other cyclists born on this day: Jan Chtiej (Poland, 1937); Fabio Acevedo (Colombia, 1949); José Mazzini (Peru, 1909); Humberto Solano (Costa Rica, 1944); William Logan (USA, 1914); Héctor Acosta (Argentina, 1933); Christian Pfannberger (Austria, 1979); Max Wirth (Switzerland, 1930); Kurt Ott (Switzerland, 1912, died 2001).

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