Friday, 23 December 2011

Daily Cycling Facts 23.12.11

Wim Vansevenant, Tour Lanterne
Rouge a record three times and
possibly a very naughty boy
Wim Vansevenant, the Belgian ex-professional and three-time Tour de France lanterne rouge turned soigneur who was arrested in June 2011 after allegedly trying to smuggle doping products (which he later claimed were for him and had been, to the best of his knowledge, legal amino acids) into Belgium, was born on this day in 1971.

A very happy birthday to Thomas Rohregger, the Austrian rider who came 4th overall in the Tour of Austria for Leopard-Trek in 2011. He was born on this day in 1982.

Noël Foré was born in Adegem, Belgium, on this day in 1932. He won Paris-Roubaix in 1959, a year his victory in the Tour of Belgium and two years after he won the Dwars door Vlaanderen. Four years later, he added Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne and the Ronde van Vlaanderen to  palmares that totalled 53 professional wins.

Robert Bartko, the track and road cyclist who was born in the former East Germany and winner of two gold medals in the 2000 Olympics, was born on this day in 1975 in Potsdam.

Ernest Payne
Ernest Payne, born on this day in 1884, worked as a carpenter after completing his education but was destined for worldwide fame - which seems to be quite a popular course of action at this time of year (and was there ever a man with a name more suited to professional cycling?)

We know a surprisingly large amount about Payne's early life - just a century ago, records were not kept at stringently as they are today and it's common for mystery to surround the births and deaths of cyclists during the earlier years of the sport. Some were not sure even of their own birth dates and many vanished from the public eye in retirement and were never heard from again, so that we don't know what became of them, when and where they died (some are feasibly still alive, though would be extremely elderly now). For example, we know that Payne was born in a cottage located at 221 London Road, Worcester: it's now the busy A44 and the cottage is gone, replaced by an unattractive commercial building dating from perhaps the 1930s, occupied by a management services company and set in the middle of a carpark behind a low hedge. Opposite, behind the ubiquitous leylandii hedge, is a mock-Tudor house far too large to be considered a cottage and thus no indication to us of what Payne's house may have looked at (it's also probably no older than the 1930s); but just beyond it are two tiny Victorian cottages built of red bricks. Both are now extended, but it's likely that the one in which Payne was born looked similar.

1902 Imperial Rover Path Racer - not Payne's bike, but his
would have been similar
(image credit: Chris Borneo's Resto Blog)
We also know that Payne's boss when he was a carpenter must either have been interested in cycling or simply in encouraging his employees to enjoy their lives outside work because he allowed him to take time off to train with his brother Walter - Payne would repay the man's kindness with a gold watch once his winnings gave him the means to purchase such an object. His first official race took place on the 14th of July in 1902 at Stourbridge, when he competed with the St. John's CC. He crashed hard enough to destroy his bike, but then won the half-mile handicap race on a bike he borrowed from another club member. Specialising in one-and-a-half-mile races, he won thirteen of the fourteen races he entered and within a year was known as "The Worcester Wonder" in the cycling press.

Payne photographed with his trophies in 1910 - in the
middle is the enormous Challenge Cup that he won in 1904
Payne used a locally-made bike during his first year, details of which are lost. In 1903 he switched from Dunlop Road Race to Dunlop Sprint tyres and began racing on an Imperial Rover - the bike upon which he won the Challenge Cup at the Bath Whitsun meet in 1904. Standing over 122cm tall and containing some 14kg of silver, the Cup was reputed to be the largest trophy ever awarded in any athletic competition in Britain.

Payne was himself 169cm tall - lifting the Cup must have been almost as much an achievement as winning it, as can be seen in a 1910 photograph depicting him with his bike standing next to a three-tiered display of his prizes. The photograph may have been taken to mark the end of his cycling career - during which he won 150 races and an Olympic gold medal in 1908 - for that same year he gave it up in favour of football, which he had been playing for two years. In 1909, he made his debut in a match against Nottingham Forest, playing for a team named Newton Heath - and which is still with us, but now known as Manchester United. Payne died at the age of 76 on the 10th of September, 1961.

Happy birthday to David Daniell, the British track sprint rider who won three silver medals at the 2011 British Track Championships. David, from Middlesborough, was BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year in 2006. He was born in 1989.

Jim Ochowicz at the 2010 Tour de France
(image credit: Thomas Ducroquet CC BY-SA 3.0)
Many people have made a living from cycling, fewer make it their life to such an extent that their entire being is weaved into the sport. One of them is Jim Ochowicz, who was born on this day in 1951. He would represent the USA in the Olympics of 1972 and 1976, then was inducted into the USA Cycling Hall of Fame in 1977 in recognition of his services to the sport. In 1981, he set up the 7-11 Cycling Team which began as an amateur organisation before transforming itself into a team that competed at the very highest levels, including the Tour de France. In 1990, it found a new big-name sponsor and was renamed Motorola, becoming the first team to use race radios. Motorola eventually folded in 1996 after sixteen seasons. In 2002, Ochowicz was back, serving a four-year tenure a president of the USA Cycling Board of Directors, then in 2006 he set up the BMC Racing Team who are still racing the Grand Tours and ProTour circuit under his direction to this day.

Solihull cyclists were angered on this day in 2010 when a motorist who killed a female cyclist named Cath Ward and was convicted of dangerous and inconsiderate driving was banned for 12 months, received a 12 month community order and was ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid community service and pay £110 costs. "We as a club are appalled at this sentence," said a Solihull CC spokesperson. "It just beggars belief that anyone’s life is worth just this. The driver wasn’t even fined."

Other births: Adam Wadecki (Poland, 1977); Bjarne Sørensen (Denmark, 1954); Karl-Heinz Oberfranz (East Germany, 1951); Noel Luces (Trinidad and Tobago, 1948); John Walker (Great Britain, 1888); Warren Johnston (New Zealand, 1935); Domingo Villanueva (Philippines, 1964); Yoichi Machishima (Japan, 1954); Andreas Kappes (Germany, 1965); Armand Blanchonnet (France, 1903, died 1968).


  1. Ernie Payne's house at 221 London Road is still there. It is tucked into the corner of Yew Tree Close in front of the council building, Highways Close, you refer to. Also he moved across the road to 224 London Road later in the 20th century. This house is still there and Ernie and his brother Walter ran their joinery business from here. In fact they crafted the bay windows of both houses. The man in 222 London Road remembers him well which is more than can be said for Worcester City. Wouldn't happen in Belgium would it? We will see what can be done to revive the memory of Worcester's one and only gold medallist.

    Graham Taylor (no relation)
    who lives further down the London Road

  2. Excellent! Thanks for sharing your local knowledge :-)


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