Sunday 11 March 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 11.03.12

Paris-Nice started on this day in 1973, 1981, 1982, 2001 and 2007. 1973 brought the second of Raymond Poulidor's two consecutive wins, but was the second of four for his Gan-Mercier-Hutchinson team because Joop Zoetemelk won the next two editions. The race that year covered the shortest parcours in its history, just 850km - less than half the longest, 1,955km in 1959.

Contador at Paris-Nice, 2007
(image credit: Goldenbembel CC BY 2.0)
Stephen Roche became the first Irishman to win in 1981 - and with Sean Kelly winning the next year and then  for the following six in a row, Ireland became the nation with the third highest number of victories in the history of this race. In addition to the second Irish win, 1982 saw the death of Jean Leulliot, who had been involved in the race ever since 1951 when the event - which had been run once since the Second World War, in 1946, but not again - was revived by Route et Piste magazine at the suggestion of Nice's mayor Jean Medecin who thought it would attract tourists, then became race director in 1957. After his death, his daughter Josette took over and became possibly the only female director of a major international event in the history of cycling. That wasn't the only notable aspect of Paris-Nice that year - it also started in a foreign country for the first time: at Luingne in Belgium.

Dario Frigo won in 2001, when the race began in Nevers - an excellent result for a relatively little-known rider, but one that he may not have won fairly: at the Tour de France four years later, he was arrested after police found ten doses of EPO hidden in his wife's car and his career came to an end. Alberto Contador won in 2007 after his Discovery team gave a textbook demonstration of tactics and their effectiveness, skillfully grinding away at Gerolteiner until they were powerless to assist leader Davide Rebellin as he tried in vain to keep up with the Spaniard on the final climb. The classification leaders' jerseys have been altered numerous times during the history of Paris-Nice and 2007 saw changes to two: the Points jersey changed back to green for the first time since 1954 and the Youth jersey became white after being blue and white since the classification's introduction in 2002.

Christian Henn
(image credit: Diane Krauss CC BY-SA 3.0)
Christian Henn, born on this day in 1964 in Heidelberg, is a retired cyclist who won a bronze medal in the 1988 Olympics and Stage 13 of the 1995 Vuelta a Espana, later becoming National Road Race Champion in 1996. In 2007, he and several ex-team mates (Rolf Aldag, Erik Zabel, Udo Boelts and Bert Dietz) admitted to having used EPO while riding for Telekom (the team that would become T-Mobile and, eventually, HTC-Highroad who took one of the strictest lines against doping until closing at the end of 2011) in the 1990s.

Slovenian mountain biker Blaža Klemenčič was born on this day in 1980 and won several honours in competitive skiing and mountain climbing before cycling. She won the European MTB Marathon Championship in 2004 and was 4th in the same event in 2010.

Jan Zybert, born in Lodz, Poland in 1908, won 3rd place in the sprint at his National Track Championships in 1927 and competed in the 1928 Olympics. His real name was Jan Siebert, a Jewish surname, and he is believed to have died sometime in 1943 either during his country's occupation by the Nazis or in a death camp.

On this day in 2003, Kazakh rider Andrei Kivilev collided with Cofidis team mate Marek Rutkiewicz and Gerolsteiner's Volker Ordowski at the Paris-Nice. The two men he'd hit were unhurt and finished the stage but Kivilev fell heavily, hitting his head hard on the road and did not get up. When doctors reached him moments later, he was in a coma and died the next day, leaving behind his wife and baby son. Kivilev's death forced riders to accept a new UCI proposal to make the wearing of helmets compulsory in all races and, as such, has almost certainly saved many lives.

Steffen Wesemann, born in Wolmirstedt, Germany on this day in 1971, won the Peace Race a record five times (1992, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003). He also won the 2004 Tour of Flanders and came 3rd at Paris-Roubaix in 2007 before retiring in 2008.

Peter Bissell was born on this day in 2007 at Hitchen, UK. He was 2004 British Hill Climb Champion and, in 2006, became Under-23 Road Race Champion. He was born on the 11th of March 1986 in Stevenage, Hertfordshire and died after suffering a fit, aged 21.

Tanel Kangert, born in Vändra, Estonia in 1987 won some good results as an amateur, leading to a contract with AG2R-Prévoyance for 2007 - which he repaid with victory at the Tour du Gevaudan, the Tour de Franche Comté Cycliste and the Under-23 Road Race Championship. He won the National Time Trial Championship at Elite level the next year but was forced to miss 2009 in its entirety after a knee injury that both threatened his future career and led to him being sacked by the team. In 2010, he was able to find a place on his national team and won another National Time Trial title, later being offered a contract with Astana for 2011 and riding the Vuelta a Espana with them.

Other births: Giuseppe Martinelli (Italy, 1955); Harry Kent (New Zealand, 1947); Liam Phillips (Great Britain, 1989); Mircea Romaşcanu (Romania, 1953); Negousse Mengistou (Ethiopia, 1932); Eduardo Uribe (Mexico, 1970); Mohamed Kholafy (Egypt, 1977); Unto Hautalahti (Finland, 1936); Qian Yunjuan (China, 1977); Alfred Tonello (France, 1929, died 1996); Alfredo Dinale (Italy, 1900, died 1976).

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