Tuesday 7 January 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 07.01.2014

John Degenkolb
Degenkolb at the Olympics, 2012
Born in Gera, Germany in 1989, John Degenkolb began his career as a track cyclist and won the Pursuit as a Novice at the National Championships in 2004, then successfully defended the title and added another Novice victory at the National Road Race Championship a year later. In 2006 he came third in the Juniors Individual Time Trial at the Nationals, then won it in 2007 - one of nine victories that year, which earned him a contract with the Continental-class Thüringer Energie Team for 2008. He responded well to the step up, coming second overall at the Under-23 Tour du Haut-Anjou, winning Stage 2 at the U-23 Thüringen-Rundfahrt and impressing at a number of other races.

Staying with Thüringer Energie for the following two seasons, he continued to perform well - especially in 2010 when he was sixth at the U-23 Ronde van Vlaanderen, won two stages at the Tour de Bretagne and two more at the Rás Tailteann, became National U-23 Road Race Champion, won the U-23 Thüringen-Rundfahrt and stages at the Tours Alsace and de l'Avenir and then came second at the World U-23 Road Race Championship. ProTour teams began to take an interest: Degenkolb chose HTC-Highroad which, under the tutelage of Bob Stapleton, had a long tradition of discovering and developing promising young riders, something that Degenkolb rapidly proved himself to be with a stage win at the Volta ao Algarve, 12th place at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, 19th place at Paris-Roubaix (where simply finishing the race marks a rider out as a true great), two stage wins at the Critérium du Dauphiné, bronze at the Nationals and - remarkably for a rider making his Grand Tour debut in his first professional season - third place on Stage 1 and second place on Stage 12 at the Vuelta a Espana.

Highroad, which had been the first team to introduce anti-doping measures of its own that were far more stringent than those required by the UCI, came to a sadly ironic end in 2011 when sponsors decided to discontinue their association with a sport they believed to be irreparably associated with doping in the public mind. Degenkolb found a new contract with Project 1t4i and continued to impress with 11th place at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, two third place stage finishes at Paris-Nice,  fifth place at Milan-San Remo, sixth place at the E3 Harelbeke, two stage wins and overall General Classification at the Tour de Picardie, one stage win at the Tour of Poland and no fewer than five stage wins plus fourth place in the Points competition at the Vuelta a Espana (but 131st overall, having suffered greatly in the mountains) before coming fourth at the World Championships - not bad for a 23-year-old racing his second Grand Tour and sufficient to convince the world that he was a very fine sprinter indeed. In 2012, still with the same team, he won Stage 5 at the Giro d'Italia, was fourth at the Sparkassen Giro, won the Hamburg Cyclassics, was second at Paris-Brussels, won two stages and finished second overall at the Circuit Franco-Belge and won Paris-Bourges and Paris-Tours. He will remain with the team for 2014.

Shane Kelly
Shane Kelly
(image credit: Velo Steve CC BY-SA 2.0)
The Kilo specialist Shane Kelly - who was born in Ararat, Australia on this day in 1972 - competed in no fewer than five Olympics, the first in 1992 and the last in 2008. He won three medals, a silver and two bronze, but he's perhaps best remembered for an incident in the 1996 Kilo when the cleat of his shoe slipped from the pedal and he was left on the start line while his opponents accelerated away. He finished 4th in the 2004 Keirin, but 3rd place René Wolff was disqualified for "moving outward with the intention of forcing the opponent going up;" dangerous riding that, in the view of the judges, was deliberate and resulted in Kelly taking 3rd place.

Kelly was one of the four cyclists implicated in a doping scandal in 2004 when sprinter Mark French claimed that he, Jobie Dajka, Graeme Brown, Sean Eadie and himself were the co-owners of 13 phials of an equine growth hormone, injectable vitamins and used medical equipment including used syringes that had been discovered in his room at the Australian Institute of Sport. Dajka was found to have lied when giving evidence at the subsequent trial and was banned from competition (and began a slow downward spiral that led ultimately to his untimely death), but no evidence could be found in support of French's claims and the men he had accused were cleared. French himself received a two-year ban after the court decided he was guilty of supplying the growth hormone and corticosteroid to other riders, but after an appeal was also cleared due to lack of evidence.

Danish road and track rider Rasmus Quaade was born in Valby on this day in 1990. He became National Under-23 and Elite Individual Time Trial Champion in 2011, then National and European U-23 ITT Champion in 2012, when he was also fifth in the ITT at the World U-23 ITT Championship.

Gerrit Schulte (image credit: Polygoon Hollands Nieuws CC BY-SA 3.0)
Gerardus Bernardus "Gerrit" Schulte, Dutch Track Pursuit champion ten times, was born on this day in 1916. Schulte was also a gifted road cyclist, winning Stage 3 of the 1938 Tour de France when he beat - among other greats - Antonin Magne and André Leducq. A trophy awarded to the best Dutch professional rider each year is named after him. He died on the 26th of February in Den Bosch ('s-Hertogenbosch) - the birthplace of multi-discipline cycling superstar Marianne Vos, who won the Schulte Trophy in 2010.

Huw Pritchard, first Welsh rider to win a track medal (20km Scratch, silver) at the Commonwealth Games (2002), was born today in 1976. Huw became British National Under-23 Road Champion in 1997 and Welsh National Road Champion the next year and in 2003.

Other cyclists born on this day: Enrique Campos (Venezuela, 1961); Héctor Droguett (Chile, 1925, died 2008); René Rutschmann (Switzerland,  1941); Miguel Angel Sánchez (Costa Rica, 1943).

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