Tuesday 13 December 2011

Daily Cycling Facts 13.12.11

Alison Shanks
(image credit: Nicola CC BY-SA 3.0)
Lithuanian Simona Krupeckaitė, the track cyclist who became 500m World Champion in 2007 and set a new world record in the process, was born in Utena on this day in 1982

Roger Ilegems, track and road cyclist and a gold medal winner at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles (points race), was born in Niel, Belgium on this day in 1962.

Alexis Michiels was born on this day (some sources say 19.12) in Brussels, 1883. He entered the 1919 Tour de France but abandoned in Stage 2.

New Zealander Alison Shanks was born in Dunedin on this day in 1982. She took up cycling in 2005 and, just a year later, was competing in the Commonwealth Games where she came 4th in the Pursuit.

Danish ex-professional track cyclist Hans-Henrik Ørsted was born on this day in 1954 in  Grenå.

Zbigniew Spruch, born on this day in the Polish town Kożuchów, won the 1995 Tour of Poland and finished the 1999 Gent-Wevelgem in 2nd place.

Peter Luttenberger, born in Bad Radkersburg, Austria on this day in 1972, won Stage 7 and the overall General Classification at the 1996 Tour de Suisse; then followed it up with 5th overall at the Tour de France that same year, thus immediately raising hopes among Austrian cycling fans that their nation would have its first Tour winner within a year or two (Max Bulla, born in Vienna, had won in the Independents Classification in 1931 as well as winning three stages and leading the race for a day - the only time in the history of the race that a non-professional touriste-routier rider did so). He never quite managed to do so well again, unfortunately - he was 13th in 1997, 21st in 2000 and 13th again in 2003.

Leopard Trek
On this day in 2011, Jakob Fuglsang announced that a new team being put together by Brian Nygaard in Luxembourg was going to be known as Team Leopard. It was to be built around Andy Schleck, who had revealed himself as a likely Tour de France winner, and would include his brother Frank, Jakob himself, Stuart O'Grady, Fabian Cancellara and Jens Voigt (all previously of Saxo Bank) - some of the most popular riders of their generation (and the previous, in the case of Voigt), which meant that they enjoyed enormous exposure right from the start. Shortly after the announcement, Trek Bicycles came in as a full sponsor and the team became Leopard Trek.

Jakob Fuglsang
(image credit: Thomas Ducroquet CC BY-SA 3.0)
The Schlecks would later claim that "leopard" (which, we were all soon being told, should be pronounced "lay oh pard") came from a WW2 German tank of the same name (the only German tanks bearing the name were not in fact produced until the middle of the 1950s) which seemed, perhaps, a slightly odd choice since the Nazis had invaded Luxembourg and its neighbours and killed lots of the inhabitants; but it's more likely that the name actually came from Nygaard's company Leopard Racing anyway, so the wisdom/stupidity of the Schleck explanation is moot.

Other births: Alexis Michiels (France, 1883, died 1976); Abe Jonker (South Africa, 1933, died 1991); István Schillerwein (Hungary, 1933); David Humphreys (Australia, 1936); Yasuhiro Ando (Japan, 1969).

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