Wednesday 23 July 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 23.07.2014

Judith Arndt
Born in Königs Wusterhausen, Germany on this day in 1976, Judith Arndt became one of the greatest and most popular all-rounders in cycling with numerous excellent results in road racing, time trials and on the track.

Arndt turned professional with the Red Bull team in 1999, at a time when she already had five National titles and one World Championship to her name. As a result she did not experience a year or two in which her results dipped while she adjusted to the increased competition as most riders do when they move up to the top level of the sport - having been competing at Elite level since 1995, there was no nasty "big step up" surprise waiting for her and in that first year she won Stage 1 and second place in the overall General Classification at the Holland Ladies' Tour, the Tour de Bretagne and numerous other events. She was a popular favourite for the 2000 Olympics but picked up a virus shortly before the Games; however, the National Pursuit and Points race prevented the year from becoming a total wash-out, as did silver medals for the same two events at the World Championships.

2001 was the year in which Arndt transformed herself from a track rider who could also ride well on the road into a world-beating road racer, winning another Tour de Bretagne and the Gracia Orlova in addition to second place at the Tour de l'Aude, the Thüringen-Rundfahrt and the Women's Challenge. She also won the National Individual Time Trial Championship for a third time and came third in the Road Race at the Nationals. One year later she won the National Road Race, the Women's Challenge, the Tour de l'Aude, the Tour de Snowy and the Redlands Classic. Since then, she has added more three more victories at the Gracia Orlova (2005, 2006, 2007), another Tour de l'Aude (2003), two editions of the Emakumeen Bira (2009, 2012), the National Individual Time Trial title another six times (2003, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2012), the Tour of Qatar (2012), two editions of the Ronde van Vlaanderen (2008, 2012), numerous other races and a vast number of other podium places. She called an end to her long career at the end of 2012, having won a number of very prestigious races, the National Road Race Championship, the National ITT Championship and the World ITT Championship and earned a silver medal in the time trial at the Olympics that year.

Sometimes outspoken, Arndt has clashed with the German cycling federation in the past. The most notable example of this came in 2004 when she raised her finger at the judges as she crossed the line (the gesture means "fuck off" in many nations) to show what she thought of the Federation's decision not to select her then-partner Petra Rossner in the Olympic team (Rossner won the World Cup in 2002 and had become National Road Race Champion two months before the Games; it does, therefore, seem strange that she wasn't selected). The Federation, as tends to be the way with national cycling federations, didn't take kindly to being criticised by a rider and forced Arndt to apologise; nevertheless, she earned an army of new fans.

Arndt was never the sort of rider who'd allow her career to go on too long and gradually fade into obscurity. After 21 years of racing, she decided that her final professional season would be 2012 - and it proved to be a spectacular year with a silver medal at the Olympics and victory at the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the Emakumeen Bira, the Thüringen-Rundfahrt and the World Time Trial Championships at Limburg.

Roger Hassenforder
Since the earliest days of the sport, cycling has been populated by eccentrics and characters - one of the most amusing of them all was Roger Hassenforder, who was born in Sausheim, France on this day in 1930 and became known as le boute-en-train ("the merry-maker") to the French and de Clown van de Elzas ("the Clown of Alsace") the the Dutch and Flemish. One of his most popular stunts was giving interviews during races, including the Tour de France.

Most cyclists rarely win anything, some win many races and a few will enjoy success at the Tour. Hassenforder was an unusual case in that almost all of his successes came in the Tour and he won very few smaller events - he won a total of eight Tour stages, including four in 1956 alone, and wore the maillot jaune for four days in 1953. Yet, he never won a Tour and in fact finished just one of the sixth he entered: 1956 when, despite those four stage wins, he was 50th overall.

When Hassenforder retired, he opened a cafe at Kaysersberg, one of the most beautiful and historic towns in the Alsace. It rapidly became a favourite haunt of local cyclists and those who visited from around the world, growing into a restaurant and hotel - it can still be found at 129 Rue General de Gaulle and, while no longer owned by the Hassenforder family, the new owners have been wise enough to keep it as the rider intended and have kept both the Hassenforder name and the restaurant's cycling links.

The Basque cyclist David Etxebarria, born in Abadiño on this day in 1973, won the Tour de l'Avenir in 1996 and Stages 9 and 12 at the Tour de France in 1999.

Jean Fontenay, who was born in Hirel on this day in 1911, came second overall at Paris-Nice in 1936 and wore the maillot jaune for two stages in the 1939 Tour de France.

Jörg Jaksche, born in Fürth, Germany on this day in 1976, won Paris-Nice and the Tour Méditerranéen in 2004, then came 16th overall at the Tour de France the following year. In 2006 he was one of the nine riders blocked from taking part in the Tour as part of the Operación Puerto investigation; in 2007 he admitted that he was "Bella," one of the code names used in documents seized from Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, and that he had received blood transfusions administered by the doctor.

Cyclists born on this day: Daniela Gassmann (Switzerland, 1964); Oleksandr Kvachuk (USSR/Ukraine, 1983); Rik Verbrugghe (Belgium, 1974); José Pittaro (Argentina, 1946); Hans-Peter Jakst (West Germany, 1954); Ali Ben Ali (Tunisia, 1933); Olaf Meyland-Smith (Denmark, 1882, died 1924); Benny Deschrooder (Belgium, 1980); Zoltán Halász (Hungary, 1960); Roberto Lezaun (Spain, 1967).

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