Wednesday 30 May 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 30.05.12

Igor Abakoumov
Igor Abakoumov
Igor Abakoumov, born on this day in 1981 in Berdyansk, Ukraine, when it was a part of the USSR, became a Belgian citizen on the 15th of September 2001 and, the following year, signed his first professional contract and began riding with the UCI 3 team Van Hemert Groep. Gradually, he amassed results sufficient to earn himself a place with the Pro Tour team Astana in 2007 - and was then left in the lurch when sponsors withdrew their support following the drugs scandals of 2007, even though he had never tested positive.

""I have no news: [Marc] Biver is 'dead'; Bruyneel is 'dead'; the UCI was told to wait. I have a contact, it's true, but I prefer to remain in the ProTour," he said, expressing his frustration at not knowing what was going on and whether Astana would secure new funding in time to apply for a ProTour licence in 2008 or whether he would have to start again, hoping another ProTour might pick him up. In the end, he could wait no longer and it became apparent that only the top riders stood a chance of being taken by the other teams, so great was the stigma that Astana riders bore in the wake of Operacion Puerto. He had to accept an offer from the ProContinental team Mitsubishi-Jartazi instead, and has remained at that level ever since.

Gabriella Pregnolato
Gabriella Pregnolato
Gabriella Pregnolato, born in Italy on this day in 1971, won the GP della Liberazione in 1991 and the National Time Trial Championship in 1996 and 1997. In 1998, she won the Giro del Friuli and in 1999 Stages 1 and 12 at the Giro Donne, Stage 14 at the Tour de France Féminin and a third National TT title. In 2000,  her penultimate season, she won it or the fourth time and, after many attempts, the Road Race Championship too.

Tim Gould
Tim Gould, born in Matlock on this day in 1964, had already enjoyed a successful career in cyclo cross (with six consecutive Three Peaks Championship titles from 1984) when he turned to mountain biking in the early 1990s - and became even more successful. In 1990, he took a bronze medal for the World Cross Country Championships and gold in the hill climb, the latter being the discipline at which he excelled. In 1991, he became British XC Champion and won two rounds of the Grundig World Cup in addition to the Grundig Challenge Cup.

Perhaps his greatest claim to fame was beating the horse in the William Hill Man v. Horse v. Bike race of 1990 - and event in which a runner, a horseback rider and a mountain biker compete to be the fastest over a cross country course. Jacqui Phelan (co-founder of NORBA, founder of the Women's Mountain Bike & Tea Society and famous for riding mountain bikes fitted with drop handlebars) had lost to the horse by a few seconds in 1985, when bikes were first added to the race, but since then the horse had easily won - Gould was the first human being to win.

A Wright Cycle Co. racing machine
Wilbur Wright, a bicycle builder, died on this day in 1912. He's better known - alongside brother Orville - as the inventor of the first working heavier-then-air aircraft, and as the brothers never made bikes in any great quantity they probably wouldn't be any better-remembered than any other small-scale turn-of-the-last-century bike builders today had it not have been for their aircraft. However, we owe them thanks for one innovation: they were the first to come up with the idea of machining the threads of the left-hand side of the bottom bracket and crank in an anti-clockwise direction, thus preventing the crank from loosening in use.

Other births: Zdeněk Košta (Czechoslovakia, 1923); Peter Wrolich (Austria, 1974); Olavi Linnonmaa (Finland, 1920, died 1995); Mario Traxl (Austria, 1964); Tom Cordes (Netherlands, 1966); Virgilio Pereyra (Uruguay, 1928); Hugh Walton (Canada, 1955).

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