Before Mark Cavendish first broke and then smashed his record, Barry Hoban was, with eight victories, Britain's most successful Tour de France stage winner. Born in 1940 on this day in Wakefield, Hoban began cycling in 1955 and immediately showed promise, competing against and taking inspiration from Tom Simpson. He moved to France in 1962, once again following Simpson's lead.
After two years in France he turned professional with Mercier-Hutchinson-BP and entered his first Tour, riding support for perpetually 2nd place Raymond Poulidor. Several riders must have wondered just what sort of man they'd been riding with when, with the race over, Hoban went around gathering up as many pairs of sweaty cycling shorts and jerseys as he could lay his hands on. In fact, he'd spotted an easy way to make himself a bit of extra cash: British-made kit of the time were of very poor quality and likely to fall apart after a few rides. Good quality European kit, meanwhile, cost a fortune to buy even without the expense of having them sent across, so once it'd all been laundered he had no trouble at all finding customers for it. To this day, there are veteran cyclists in Wakefield who can remember the year when club rides stepped out in the finest cycling kit Italy had to offer.
While European shorts were of higher quality than British ones, many riders from Britain and overseas considered British frame builders to be the most skilled in the world. Thus, as the beginning of each new season approached, Hoban would make an annual pilgrimage to the Leeds workshop of craftsman Maurice Woodrup, who would have a frame ready, waiting and painted in Mercier's trademark pink. Hoban would then take the frame with him back to France where Mercier would supply him with the correct decals so nobody would be any the wiser.
Simpson, as all cyclists and fans know, died on Mont Ventoux the 13th of July in 1967, during a two-year period in which the Tour experimented with a return to national teams. The following day, the Tour paid its respects by allowing Hoban, as a team mate and the next placed British rider, to win the stage. Sadly, the honour was marred afterwards by a disagreement over whether Hoban or Vin Denson, another member of the team, should have been allowed to win. In 1969, Hoban married Simpson's widow Alice. They now live in Wales.
Samuel Sánchez González
Samuel Sánchez González, who began his professional career with the Euskaltel-Euskadi team in 2000 and has remained with them ever since, was born on this in 1978 in Oviedo, Asturias. Due to his loyalty to the team and long list of impressive results, he has attained the status of Basque national hero despite not being a Basque himself.
(image credit: Euskalbizikleta CC BY-SA 2.0)
Few fans will ever forget Sánchez's Stage 15 win at the 2007 Vuelta a Espana when he followed Manuel Beltrán down from the Alto de Monachil into Granada like a hawk hunting a pigeon. Beltrán, it turned out, had asked to be allowed to win the stage, but Sánchez had received news that his wife was expecting a child and wanted to dedicate it to his future son who would be born in March the following year. He caught Beltrán and crossed the line in front of him, sitting upright as he did so and rocking his arms as though cradling a baby. His performance on the stage propelled him into 3rd place overall at the end of the race, thus making him the first Euskaltel rider to stand on the podium after a Grand Tour.
|Sanchez in polka dots
(image credit: Petit Brun CC BY-SA 2.0)
Sánchez was a favourite at the start of the 2011 Tour de France, but the large number of crashes early on in the race left him far down the leadership board. However, he proved without equal in Stage 12, powering ahead of the climbing specialist Frank Schleck to the summit finish at Luz Ardiden after having already climbed Tourmalet in the same stage. In Stage 14, he finished in 2nd place at the Plateau de Beille summit finish, this time beating Andy Schleck. He would lose time on the Galibier in Stage 18, but then finished in 2nd place again on the Alpe d'Huez (beating Contador, no less) - at which point, with no further mountain stages, the King of the Mountains prize was in the bag. He also came 7th overall in the General Classification.
Sánchez won the 2012 Tour of the Basque Country in spectacular style, delighting the obsessive Basque cycling fans who have adopted him as one of their own - he had taken the General Classification lead at the end of Stage 3, but with no time advantage over Chris Horner of RadioShack-Nissan and Joaquim Rodríguez of Katusha; Joaquim Rodríguez - another atypical climber - would be an especially dangerous rival, as he proved when he took the race leader's jersey and a 9" advantage by winning Stage 4. This situation remained unchanged after Stage 5, which Rodríguez also won, but Sánchez turned it around with a blisteringly fast ride on the tough 18.9km individual time trial in the final stage, soaring up the three climbs and providing plenty of heart-stopping moments around the rain-soaked bends to finish 21" faster than the Katusha rider for a final overall advantage of 12". Luck would not remain on his side at the Tour de France, where a crash in Stage 8 left him with numerous injuries that caused him to abandon the race. He recovered in time for the Tour of Britain and finished Stage 7 in fourth place, then took second place at the Giro di Lombardia and 12th at the Tour of Beijing.
Sanchez announced that he was going for a podium placing at the Giro d'Italia in 2013 but was only able to achieve twelfth, which got some cycling fans wondering if, now he was 35, his career was over - then, at the Critérium du Dauphiné, he won Stage 7 by out-sprinting 28-year-old Jakob Fuglsang.
In 2013, the Basque government withdrew the funds that had partly financed Euskaltel-Euskadi (uniquely, the team had functioned both as a trade team and as a national team), and team bosses announced that this would in all likelihood spell the end. For a time, it seemed to have been saved when Formula 1 driver Fernando Olonso expressed an interest in purchasing the team and its World Tour licence; however, no agreement was reached and, at the end of the season and much to the dismay of all the cycling fans in the Basque country and to countless more from around the world, the team closed down. Sanchez, perhaps on account of his age, had difficulty in securing a new contract; as of January 2014 it was widely rumoured that he would be going to Tinkoff-Saxobank, where he would ride with his old friend Alberto Contador.
John Boyd Dunlop
On this day in 1840, John Boyd Dunlop was born in Dreghorn, Scotland. An intelligent boy, he studied veterinary science and qualified from the University of Edinburgh. He then set up a surgery and practiced for ten years before relocating to Northern Ireland and setting up another surgery. Dunlop had a sick son who suffered great pain as a result of the vibrations transmitted through the metal tyres of his tricycle, so his father set out to find a way to reduce this - resulting in the pneumatic tyre. He quickly realised that his invention had a future and patented it on the 7th of December, 1888. With help from the cyclist Willie Hume, who used the tyres to win a string of races, he soon found a market.
Then in 1891, it was discovered that a pneumatic tyre of very similar design had been patented in France by another Scottish inventor named Robert William Thompson more than forty years previously. A business deal also didn't work out which, combined with the subsequent declaration of invalidity on his patent, meant that Dunlop made very little money from "his" invention.
Paolo Rosola, born on this day in Gussago, Italy in 1957, won twelve stages at the Giro d'Italia (Stage 2 in 1981, Stages 3, 15 and 18 in 1983, Stage 12 in 1984, Stages 9 and 18 in 1985, Stages 8, 10 and 20 in 1987 and Stages 10 and 20 in 1988). 1987 was his best year with 10 wins in total.
Giovanni Mantovani, born two years earlier in Gudo Visconti, won a few stages at various races in the same period, including two (9 and 10) in the 1980 Giro, but for most of his career was one of those cyclists condemned to eternal occupation of the podium's lower steps. His best year, strangely, was one of his last - he achieved five victories in 1986, including the Perth Criterium and two stages (3 and 13, as well as 2nd for Stage 5) in the Griffin 1000, also in Australia, where it appears the climate suited him. Had he have discovered that earlier on, he might have enjoyed a far more successful career.
|Fredereik Nolf, 1987-2009
(image credit: Thomas Ducroquet CC BY-SA 3.0)
Ana Barros, born in Portugal on this day in 1973, was 23rd in the Road Race at the 1996 Olympics.
On this day in 2011 Melissa Hoskins, Josie Tomic and Isabella King set a new Australian Women's Record of 3'21.427" in the 30km Team Pursuit.
Other cyclists born on this day: Valery Kobzarenko (USSR, 1977); Burton Downing (USA, 1885, died 1929); Frédéric Magné (France, 1969); Lee Seung-Hun (South Korea, 1938); Pavel Tonkov (USSR, 1969); Fyodor Borisov (Russia, 1892); Frederick Habberfield (Great Britain, 1895, died 1943); René Gagnet (France, 1891, died 1951); Horst Tüller (Germany, 1931, died 2001); Héctor Urrego (Colombia, 1945); Michel Rousseau (France, 1936); Ma Yanping (China, 1977); Roger Kluge (Germany, 1986); Cesare Facciani (Italy, 1906, died 1938).