Monday 14 May 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 14.05.12

Giovanni Gerbi
The eighth edition of La Flèche Wallonne took place on this day in 1944. The parcours was identical to the previous year, covering 208km between Mons and Charleroi. Marcel Kint won, the second of his three consecutive victories.

The Giro d'Italia has started on this day twice, in 1932 and 1955. 1932 consisted of thirteen stages and covered 3,235km, completed in Antonio Pesenti in a winning time of 105h42'41". It was the last time that Costante Girardengo, two months past his 39th birthday as the race began, took part; he abandoned during Stage 5. Older still was Giovanni Gerbi who, aged 47, became National Veteran Champion that same year. Incredibly, Gerbi rode in the third in the Giro of 1911 and come third. He was also the winner of the 1905 Giro di Lombardia. Sadly, he also would not finish this race.

In 1955, the 21 stages covered 3, and saw an epic battle between Fiorenzo Magni, Gastone Nencini and Fausto Coppi. Coppi's Stage 20 victory would be his last in the Giro, while Magni won overall - then aged 35, he is the oldest rider to have won the race.

Nicki Sørensen
Nicki Sørensen, born in Hillerød on this day in 1975, is a Danish professional cyclist who currently rides for SaxoBank - with whom he has remained, through their various incarnations, since 2001 when he turned down the Linda McCartney team. Prior to that he had ridden with Chicky World and then Fakta, having begun cycling at the age of 19 after a successful amateur career as a runner.

Nicki Sørensen
(image credit: YellowMonkey/Blnguyan CC BY-SA 3.0
A all-rounder who performs well on hilly stages, Sørensen has always been capable of gaining good results, such as 4th place in Stage 16 when he rode his first Tour de France in his first year with SaxoBank. Yet, despite having almost certainly had the potential to lead a team when he was younger, he was happy to spend his career as a superdomestique and has been highly valued by a series of General Classification contenders in that role, notably Tyler Hamilton in the 2003 Tour: Sørensen, in a break that looked as though it had a real shot at making it all the way to the finish, was riding well and stood a good chance of winning Stage 16. Instead, he threw away his own prospects for glory and assisted his leader, seeing to it that Hamilton won the stage.

Nevertheless, his palmares is impressive. In addition to a Tour stage win and Combativity award (Stage 12, 2009), several stages in other events and a smattering of victories at one-day races, he was National Road Race Champion in 2003, 2008, 2010 and 2011. Few riders have deserved their titles so much.

SaxoBank team mate Matteo Tosatto, born in Castelfranco Veneto in 1974, shares Sørensen's birthday. Tosatto won a stage at Paris-Nice in 2000, Stage 12 at the Giro d'Italia in 2001 and Stage 18 at the Tour in 2006; as well as a number of successes at smaller events.

Angharad Mason 
Angharad Mason, born in Bridgend, Wales on this day in 1979, is a cyclist who represented her nation at the 2008 Commonwealth Games in India, then won the silver medal at the Welsh Championships a year later and the bronze in 2011; in both cases being beaten by Hannah Rich in first place.

Mason came relatively late to cycling after spending time competing in other sports - she is a karate black belt and at one time ran as many as nine marathons a year. Following the tradition of female cyclists tending to be far better-qualified than the men, she is a qualified physiotherapist and holds an honours degree from the University of Salford.

Born in Eckmannshausen, Germany, on this day in 1949, Klaus-Peter Thaler was race leader for two stages at the 1978 Tour de France after Ti-Raleigh won the team time trial and came 35th overall, his best result from the five times he rode. He was, meanwhile, massively successful in cyclo cross, winning the National title every year between 1976 and 1979, then 1982 and 1986-1988 as well as the World Championships of 1985 and 1987. Today, he organises the Tour of Hope which raises money for childhood cancer charities.

Lars-Petter Nordhaug had already been Nordic Cross CountryMountain Biking Champion at Elite level when he won the Norwegian Under-23 Road Race Championship in 2005 - but the two titles in two disciplines were not enough for Tønsberg-born cyclist, who was born on this day in 1984: so the next year he won the Elite Road Race too. Then, having surrendered the title for four years, he became XC MTB Champion for a second time in 2009 and won two stages, the Points competition and the overall General Classification at the Festningsrittet, one of Scandinavia's most prestigious races. In 2009, having come second overall at the Tour of Ireland, he joined Team Sky and remains with them to this day.

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