Friday 24 February 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 24.02.12

Vilma Rimšaitė
Vilma Rimšaitė, born in Lithuania's fourth largest city Šiauliai on this day in 1983, seemed destined for a life in music during her childhood when she earned a place at a specialist music school and won awards for her singing. At the age of six, she began to ride BMX and, spurred on by her BMX enthusiast father, soon demonstrated she was equally as talented at that - just three years later she took part in the European Championships, the continent's most prestigious BMX competition.

She spent the late 1990s and early years of the 21st Century concentrating on her academic studies, graduating from high school before taking a place at Šiauliai University and completing a degree in Business Management. Her studies done, she was free to return to BMX competition and was given a place on her nation's Olympic team with whom she rode in the 2008 Games in Beijing. In 2009, she won a bronze medal at the UCI BMX World Championships.

Bradley McGee
Bradley McGee was born in Sydney, Australia on this day in 1976 and became his nation's most successful male cyclist alongside Cadel Evans. His long string of wins began in 1993 with four Junior and Under-19 National titles followed by another six, two Commonwealth Games gold medals and an Under-19 3000m World Record (3'19.878") the next year. In 1995, competing at Elite level, he took two more National and one World Championship titles on the track.

Bradley McGee, 2005 Tour de France
(image credit: GSL CC BY-SA 2.5
More National titles came in 1997 along with a new Australian Hour record at 50.052km, then two more Commonwealth Games golds in 1998. In 1999, he began to make a name for himself in stage races by winning the prologue at the Tour de Normandie and the prologue and Stage 10 at the Tour de l'Avenir. In 2002, he won the Points Competition at the Critérium du Dauphiné, the World Individual Pursuit Championship, another Commonwealth gold and Stage 7 at the Tour de France. He won the prologue of the Tour a year later and wore the yellow jersey for three days.

2004 saw him win his first Olympic gold, having won bronze in 1996 (2) and 2000 (1), along with 1st place overall at the Route du Sud and 8th overall at the Giro d'Italia, in which he won the prologue and wore the maglia rosa for three days. He won the Points Classification at the Tour de Suisse in 2005 and wore the race leader's golden jersey for four days at the Vuelta a Espana. His last major victory was a gold medal in the Team Pursuit race at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup Classics, then he retired at the end of the season.

Jan Ghyselinck, born on this day in 1988 in Tielt, Belgium, is a rider who showed enormous promise as an amateur when he won the Giro della Toscana Juniors, Ronde van Vlaanderen Juniors, U23 Ronde van Vlaanderen, two Junior and one Under-23 National Time Trial Championships. He then turned professional with HTC-Highroad, a team with a reputation for seeking out and developing future stars, in 2010. Originally signed up as a neo-pro, wins at Mandel - Leie - Schelde in 2010 and a string of good results earned him a full professional contract with the team for 2011. Highroad folded at the end of the 2011 season due to problems with sponsorship, causing the riders to look to other teams - Cofidis confirmed that they had signed Ghyselinck in September that year.

Clara Hughes
(image credit: Tabercil CC BY-SA 2.0)
On this day in 2010 Clara Hughes - the only Canadian athlete to have won medals in both the Summer and Winter Olympics and one of the most successful Canadian cyclists of all time - announced her retirement from speed skating. She remains a professional cyclist and, at the age of 38, won countless new fans with a fantastic solo breakaway at the 2011 World Road Race Championship in Copenhagen, considered by many to have been the highlight of the competition.

Stefan Steinweg, born in Dortmund, Germany on this day in 1969, won his first World Championship in 1989 in the Points Race. The next came in 1991 with the Amateur Team Pursuit and was followed by a gold medal in the same event at the Olympics the following year. Since then, he has won two World Madison Championships riding alongside Erich Weispfennig and won ten criterium races on the road.

Leon Vandaele was born on this day in 1933 in Ruddervoorde, Belgium. As a rider who excelled in one day races, his greatest results were victories at the Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne in 1954 and 1961, the Omloop van het Houtland in 1956, the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen in 1956, 1957 and 1958 and, greatest of all, Paris-Roubaix in 1958. He died on the 30th of April, 2000.

On this day in 2008, Matt Manger-Lynch was killed when he collided with a car during the Tour da Chicago alleycat race. His death, which sparked several discussions on radio, television and the Internet, was partly responsible for bringing alleycat racing - unofficial urban events - to widespread attention, having previously been known only to the bike messengers who originally organised them and to a few "underground" cycling clubs.

Other births: Frank Brazier (Australia, 1934); Héctor Mellado (Chile, 1925); Vera Hohlfeld (Germany, 1972); Bernardo Alfonsel (Spain, 1954); Fujio Ito (Japan, 1945); Helge Hansen (Denmark, 1925); John Watters (Australia, 1955).

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