However, one rider from a French Team, Alcyon, insisted on being at the race - Belgian Marcel Buysse, brother of Lucien who won the Tour twelve years later. At 280km, the race was considerably shorter than the first edition which had been 324km; this reduction making a notable difference to the winning time of 10h20', compared to 12h3'10" the year before. The finish was moved from Mariakerke to Evergem for one year only.
Henri van Lerberghe - owner of cycling's greatest ever nickname, "The Death Rider of Lictervelde" (see the entry for the 29th of January to find out why he was called that) - took second place in 1914 and due to the outbreak of the First World War had to wait five years before his chance to win in 1919, when the race was again run on the 22nd of March. Van Lerberghe's race was remarkable for many reasons: first of all, he showed up with all the gear he'd need - clothing, spare parts, tools and so on, in short everything he could conceivably need in a bike race with one exception: he didn't have a bike. After asking around, he managed to find someone who was willing to lend him one and organisers let him take part. He was well-known for attacking far too early in races, using up his energy while other riders were pacing themselves for the final sprint which, more often than not, forced him to abandon long before the finish line; so spectators were not at all surprised when he suddenly shot off with 120km still to go. Before too long, he was tired and hungry - but then, he came across a Bianchi-Pirelli official who was waiting with food for Marcel Buysse, and persuaded him that since Buysse had abandoned (Buysse did in fact abandon the race, but whether or not he'd done so at this point is unknown) he might as well have the food instead.
|The Death Rider of Lichtervelde|
The next - and final - time the race was held on this date was in 1931 when it was won by Romain Gijssels, who would win again the next year to become the first man to win two editions.
Mario Cipollini, who was born in Lucca, Italy on this day in 1967, had a career that extended from 1989 to 2004 - much longer than most but more remarkable in that he remained at the top of the sport for the majority of it, still winning races at a time when most other riders would have faded into the amorphous blur of the peloton and been hoping for an occasional lucky top ten finish. Like Fabian Cancellara and other riders we've looked at over the last few days, his name is the best response that can be given to fans who complain that modern cycling lacks the characters of earlier times.
|The muscle skinsuit, later auctioned for 100,000,000 Italian|
lira - then equal to US$43, 710
(image credit: Cyclostyle)
He was widely rumoured to be a womaniser and to live a playboy lifestyle, once telling the world that he believed that "if I hadn’t been a professional cyclist, I’d probably have been a porn star." It was an image that he cultivated until it became legendary - some writers, most notably Lance Armstrong's biographer Daniel Coyle, have argued meanwhile that it was purely an image that he used it to demoralise opponents; well aware that rivals would feel crushed when a rider they believed to have been up partying all night easily sprinted past them the following day. That he possessed the intelligence to use psychological warfare is apparently in little doubt, for he is also widely regarded to have been the inventor of the now-common lead-out train that has seen Mark Cavendish win so many races and a World Championship, tucking in among a group of team mates who wear down the opposition by keeping the pace high, then emerging for an explosive sprint to victory when the finish line comes within a few hundred metres. It still works to this day, but when Cipo introduced the tactic it took the racing world by storm.
|At Paris-Nice, 1997|
(image credit: Eric Houdas CC BY-SA 3.0)
Among Cipo's 191 professional victories are the 2002 World Championship, the 1996 National Championship, his 42 Giro stage wins (a record that still stands and which, since it took to long for Binda's previous record to be broken, is likely to do for some time), three Points Classification Giro victories, 12 Tour de France stage wins, 3 Vuelta a Espana stage wins, 12 Tour de Romandie stage wins and one Points Classification win, three victories at Gent-Wevelgem, Milan-San Remo, 11 stage wins at the Volta a Catalunya, 14 stage wins at the Tour Méditerranéen and numerous prestigious one-day races.
Leontien van Moorsel
|Van Moorsel conquered depression and anorexia to become|
one of the most successful professional cyclists of all time
(image credit: Frans Meijer CC BY 2.0)
In 1994 she was forced to put her promising career on hold as she battled anorexia and depression. Thankfully, the strength that let her beat Jeannie Longo was a match for her inner demons too and she returned to competition in 1997 to win the GP Boekel, the National Track Pursuit Championship and the National Individual Time Trial Championship. She was better still a year later, taking the National titles for the Pursuit, Points Race on the track, the World Individual Time Trial Championship and the National Individual TT and Road Race Championships. She retained them all in 1999 and added the World Road Race Championship, the Greenery International, another GP Boekel and the Holland Ladies' Tour. Over the years until retirement at the end of 2004, she would win 196 professional races, and six Olympic medals (four gold, one silver, one bronze) and in 2000 alone took 34 victories. She remains one of the most successful Dutch athletes of all time.
Jakob Fuglsang was born on this day in 1985 in Geneva, to Danish parents and of Danish nationality. He began his professional cycling career as a mountain biker with the Cannondale-Vredestein team, winning two Danish Juniors Cross Country Championships (2002, 2003), a National Cross Country Championship at Elite level in 2006 and then the World Under-23 Cross Country Championship in 2007 before switching to road cycling.
He announced his move in memorable style by winning the Danmark Rundt in 2008, then repeated it in 2009 and added overall victory at the Tour of Slovenia, three podium finishes at the Vuelta a Espana and 6th overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné, then a year later won hi National Time Trial Championship, a third Danmark Rundt, 3rd place at the Tour de Suisse and 4th at the Giro di Lombardia. Later that year, he was given the honour of announcing the formation of Leopard Trek to the world and would ride with them in 2011 and it was with them that he won his first Grand Tour stage - the Stage 1 Team Time Trial at the Vuelta a Espana. Fuglsang will join the Schlecks and other Leopard team mates at the new RadioShack-Nissan-Trek team formed by Leopard and Radioshack's merger in 2012 - while he currently rides in support of General Classification contender Andy Schleck in Grand Tours, there is every reason to expect him to achieve more personal victories as he enters his best years.
On this day in 1819, the English Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle printed a short article describing a new machine named a Velocipede. "The crowded state of the metropolis," it said, "does not admit of this novel mode of exercise; and it has been put down by the Magistrates of Police; but it contributes to the amusement of the passengers in the street."
Ludovic Turpin, winner of Stage 5 at the 2006 Critérium du Dauphiné, was born in Laval, France in 1975.
Other births: Asmelash Geyesus (Ethiopia, 1968); Johanna Hack (Austria, 1957); Martina Růžičková (Czechoslovakia, 1980); Viola Paulitz (Germany, 1967); Gilberto Chocce (Peru, 1950); Jan Hugens (Netherlands, 1939, died 2011); Zain Safar-ud-Din (Malaysia, 1938); Harold Ade (USA, 1912, died 1988); Gunhild Ørn (Norway, 1970); Aleksey Petrov (USSR, 1937, died 2009); Rudolf Baier (Germany, 1892).