Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 10.12.2013

Elisa and Paolo Longo Borghini
Elisa Longo Borghini in 2012
Elisa Longo Borghini, born in Ornovasso, Italy on this day in 1991, won a bronze medal at the National Novices Road Race Championship in 2006 and turned professional with Top Girls-Fassa Bortolo in 2011, enjoying a very promising year with fifth place at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and good placings at the European Under-23 Championships and the Holland Ladies' Tour.

In 2012 she moved to Hitec Products-Mistral Home; though she dropped to seventh place at the Omloop Het Nieuwslad it would be a better season with fifth place in the Tour de Free State, second place in the National Elite Individual Time Trial Championship, four top ten stage finishes (best: sixth, Stage 3) and ninth place overall at the Giro Donne, Stage 5 victory and fifth place overall at the Thüringen-Rundfahrt and third place in the European U-23 ITT Championship, the GP Ouest France and the World Elite Road Race Championship. 2013, still riding for Hitec, was a spectacular year - having started the season with fourth place at Le Samyn, she won the highly prestigious Trofeo Alfredo Binda (where she beat Emma Johansson and Ellen van Dijk by 1'44"), came fourth at the Ronde van Vlaanderen and second at the Flèche Wallonne, won Stage 4 and finished in second place overall at the Emakumeen Bira and then came eighth at the World Road Race Championship before finishing the year with third at the Chrono des Herbiers. What she'll achieve in the coming years is anyone's guess, but it'll be impressive.

Paolo Longo Borghini
Curiously, Elisa shares her birthday with her brother Paolo Longo Borghini, who is eleven years her senior. Paolo finished Stage 1 of the 2012 Tour of Britain in eighth place and is a veteran of seven Grand Tours, having ridden the Tour de France in 2007 (124th place), 2008 (did not finish) and 2011 (126th place), the Giro d'Italia in 2009 (113th place), 2012 (108th place) and 2013 (67th) and the Vuelta in 2013 (89th). They are not, as is sometimes assumed, related to perennial French cyclist Jeannie Longo.

Hannah Mayho, born this day in 1990, was winner of the National Under-16 Pursuit and Circuit Race in 2006, Junior Pursuit and Road Race in 2007 and Junior Pursuit in 2008. In 2011, having returned to racing after her leg was broken in a collision with a car in 2010, she came third in the 10 mile Junior National Time Trial Championship.

Retired Norwegian mountain biker and triathlete Rune Høydahl was born on this day in 1969. The only mountain biker to have been World Champion in both downhill and cross country, Rune achieved eleven World Champion titles in total, winning five consecutively, and represented his nation twice in the Olympics. He won the  2004 Norseman Triathlon (equal distances to Ironman competitions) after he'd retired. Having made wise use of his winnings, he now runs his own professional mountain bike team, Etto-Høydahl.

German track cyclist Rudi Mirke, who was born on the 16th of June in 1920, died at the Funkturm Track on this day during the Six Days of Berlin event in 1951. Two years previously, Mirke had played himself in the film Um eine Nasenlänge ("To a Nose").

"Citizen" Karl Drais
Today marks the death in 1851 of Baron Karl Drais, inventor of the Laufmaschine ("running machine") - a device featuring two wheels, one behind the other and connected by a wooden beam fitted with a seat so that it could be pushed along the ground using the feet. Known later as the Draisienne or velocipede, it is credited as being the first bicycle.

Drais aboard his Laufmaschine
Curiously, we owe thanks for Drais' invention to a volcano - Mount Tambora in Indonesia. When Tambora erupted in 1815, following a series of smaller eruptions, it ejected so much dust into the atmosphere that global temperatures dropped by an average of as much as 0.7C and harvests failed throughout the Northern Hemisphere in what became known as The Year Without A Summer. What little food there was had to go to starving populations, so horses went unfed and died in huge numbers - Drais hoped to find a means of transportation to replace them.

Drais was, by any standards, a remarkable man for his time and in 1848 he publicly renounced his nobility, stating that he wished to be known as Citizen Karl Drais in support of the French Revolution. The Prussian government viciously suppressed a revolution of their own the following year and, viewing Drais as an enemy of the establishment, seized his pension and belongings to assist in covering the costs of preventing unrest. He died destitute two years later.

Other cyclists born on this day: John Bettison (Great Britain, 1940); Sergio Ghisalberti (Italy, 1979); Enrico Brusoni (Italy, 1878, died 1949); Ladislav Fouček (Czechoslovakia, 1930, died 1974); Viktor Klimov (USSR, 1964); David Miranda (El Salvador, 1942); Vitali Petrakov (USSR, 1954); Hiroshi Yamao (Japan, 1943).

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