Sunday 30 September 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 30.09.12

José Manuel Fuente Lavendera
José Manuel Fuente
Born in Limanes, Spain on this day in 1945, José Manuel Fuente Lavendera won the Vuelta a Espana in 1972 and 1974 and, as a remarkably gifted climber (who drew comparisons to the great Federico Bahamontes, rated by some as having been an even better climber than Charly Gaul) would almost certainly have won a Giro d'Italia and a Tour de France had his best years not coincided with the domination of the Grand Tours by Eddy Merckx. Nevertheless, alongside his fellow Spaniard Luis Ocaña, he was one of only four or five riders able to pose a real threat to Merckx and, given a stage with the right kind of terrain, could beat him.

In 1968, Fuente won the second edition of the Caboalles de Abajo, a race that was last held in 1987; the following year he turned professional with the Spanish Pepsi Cola team and came third at the Vuelta Ciclista Asturias. He then switched to Karpy-Licor for 1970 and won Stage 9 at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya before going to KAS-Kaskol in 1971 and winning Stage 10 and the King of the Mountains at the Giro and Stages 14 and 15 at the Tour. Fuente's epic battle with Merckx at the 1972 Giro has gone into cycling legend as one of the greatest duels in the history of the sport: it began early in the race when Fuente took the lead with Merckx taking it a few days later. When the race reached the mountains, Fuente went to work on the Belgian and piled on the pressure; Merckx was a good climber - Merckx excelled everywhere - but Fuente was better and many fans expected him to take an unbeatable lead. However, slowly but surely, Merckx forced himself to go faster and faster up the mountains and, eventually, won the stage. It took a lot out of him, but he secured overall victory; Fuente won the King of the Mountains for a second time.

In 1973, Fuente won the Tour de Suisse, then Stage 18 and another King of the Mountains at the Giro d'Italia; he was also third overall behind Ocaña and Bernard Thevenet. At the Giro the following year, he won the King of the Mountains again and was third in the Points competition and fifth overall, but in 1975 his only victory was a cyclo cross race - his health, affected by a kidney complaint, was beginning to decline and he retired early in 1976 after his final victory, Stage 3a at the Vuelta a los Valles Mineros. Later, he opened a bike company in Spain and was successful; then in 1988 he became a directeur sportif for Clas but was replaced after a year.

Fuente underwent a kidney transplant in 1996, but less than a week later developed pancreatitis and then suffered a heart attack; another operation and removal of his spleen was unsuccessful in saving his life and he died aged 50 on the 18th of July.

Shelley Olds
Born in Groton, Massachusetts on this day in 1980, Shelley Olds was captain of the soccer team at Roanoke College, where she studied sports science, and had no interest in cycling until she was introduced to the sport by her future husband and began racing on the track a short while later; on 2007 she rode with the bronze medal-winning team in the Pursuit at the National Championships, then a year later she became National Scratch Race Champion.

Shelley Olds
Despite her track glory, Olds' future lay in road racing and, having enjoyed some success as long ago as 2006 when she was second at the Manhattan Beach GP criterium, she made the switch in 2009 and from that point has concentrated on road racing. That same year she won five times, including the General Classification at the Tulsa Tough; she was also second overall at the Nature Valley GP, but the best indication of her potential came in July when she was second on Stage 8 at the only surviving Grand Tour in women's cycling, the Giro Donne. 2010 was her real breakthrough year with overall victory at the Tour of New Zealand where she won four of a total six stages and beat Amber Neben by 16'; later in the year she scored some more good stage results - though no wins - at the Giro Donne and the Holland Ladies' Tour.

In 2011, Olds was second at the Drentse 8 van Dwingeloo after proving unable to respond to the might of Marianne Vos, then also at the Liberty Classic when she was beaten by World Champion Giorgia Bronzini. She rode for AA in 2012 and got off to a good start with promising results in the PanAmerican Championshipsand fourth place overall at the Tour of Chongming Island. Chongming also hosts a round of the World Cup and Olds won it, then two weeks later she was second at Dorpenomloop Wijk en Aalburg and in early June she came very close to winning Stage 1 at the Emakumeen Bira but was beaten in the sprint by Ina-Yoko Teutenberg. Although she ultimately finished in 27th place, the Giro Donne went well for Olds: she took second place on Stage 1, losing to Vos but beating Bronzini, was fourth on Stage 2, won Stage 6 (Vos and Bronzini were second and third) and was fourth on Stage 8. She also took seventh place in the Olympic road race, an extremely respectable result considering the enormously high level of competition at the event and the puncture she had 30km from the finish after escaping the peloton with a breakaway group 20km earlier, and was second on Stage 5 at the Brainwash Ladies' Tour (the Holland Ladies' Tour, renamed after its new main sponsor). She is now 31 and approaching the peak of her performance as an endurance athlete; will not continue in 2013, but Oldswill be very much a rider to watch no matter which team she joins.

Catharine Pendrel
Born in Fredericton, New Brunswick on this day in 1980, Catharine Pendrel grew up on her family's farm, where she learned to ride and began to compete in dressage. Her brother, Geoff, is a downhill mountain biker and built trails on the farm. Before too long, Catharine was regularly borrowing one of his bikes and was riding them with him. She also rode her first race on her brother's bike.

By her own admission, Pendrel "sucked" at sports when she was at school; when she went to university and decided to try out for the National development squad, she had to persuade the team coach Dan Proulx to give her an audition. Fortunately, she convinced him and Proulx knows his stuff, because he saw something worth nurturing - and in 2004, she qualified for the World Championships where she came 43rd.

In the years that followed she improved vastly, winning the Cross Country at the PanAmerican Championships and taking second place at the Nationals in 2007, then second again at the Nationals and fourth in the Olympics of 2008. In 2010 and 2012, Pendrel won the Nationals. She also won an online poll to select Canada's flag-bearer at the London Olympics, but the Olympic Committee favoured triathlete Simon Whitfield who was given the honour; he failed to finish in his event, she was ninth in hers - an excellent result, despite her tears and dismay afterwards.

"Catharine and I often joke because, no, I didn’t see [world champion potential] in her at first,"  Proulx told the Toronto Star. "It took a lot of persistence and hard work over time. She had to bug me a bit to get me to coach her at first and luckily it all worked out. It just goes to show you, you can work hard and make something happen."

Jean-Paul van Poppel
Jean-Paul van Poppel, born in Tilburg on this day in 1962, is one of the Netherlands' all-time most successful sprinters with stage wins in all three of the Grand Tours and numerous other races. His first notably good results came in 1982 when he was third at the Under-23 Omloop Het Volk and won a stage at the Olympia's Tour; he would come third at the 1983 Amateur National Championships and win the Omloop der Kempen and another stage at the Olympia's Tour in 1984 before signing his first professional contract with Skala the following year - when he won Stage 5 at the Tour de l'Avenir and five other races. Excellent results for a neo-pro, but ones that paled into insignificance in 1986 when he won a stage at Tirreno-Adriatico, two stages (2 and 13) at the Giro d'Italia and the Scheldeprijs Classic.

Jean-Paul van Poppel
In 1987 van Poppel rode his first Tour de France and won Stages 8 and 17, coming 130th in the General Classification but first in the Points competition. After winning Scheldeprijs for a second time in 1988 he went back to the Tour and won Stages 3, 10, 17 and 22 - though this time, his poor performances in the mountains left him at fifth place on Points. In 1989 he won Stages 1 and 15a at the Giro but didn't finish the race, nor did he finish the Tour that year. He won no stages at either race in 1990, but in 1991 he won Stages 3, 5 and 6 at the Vuelta Ciclista a Aragón, Stage 5 at Paris-Nice, Stages 6, 9, 13 and 21 at the Vuelta a Espana and then Stage 7 at the Tour; a year later he took Stages 3 and 5 at the Vuelta and 10 at the Tour. He also won Stages 4 and 8 at the Vuelta in 1993 and Stage 9 at the Vuelta and Stage 2 at the Tour in 1994.

Van Poppel retired in 1995 and became directeur sportif of a women's team, one member of which - Mirjam Melchers, whose birthday falls just a few days before Jean-Paul's - became his wife. Their three children are all cyclists: Boy achieved four podium finishes  and won the Points competition at the 2012 Tour of Britain, Kim was National Debutant Cyclo Cross and Novice Road Race Champion in 2006 and Danny won two stages at the Under-23 Thüringen-Rundfahrt in 2012.

Sture Pettersson, born in Alingsås, Sweden on this day in 1940, was one of the four Fåglum brothers who won the World Amateur Team Time Trial Championship in 1967, 1968 (when they also won a silver medal at the Olympics) and 1969. Gösta, the most accomplished of the brothers, won the Giro d'Italia in 1971.

Gert Steegmans
Born in Hasselt on this day in 1980, Belgian rider Gert Steegmans has won numerous very good results over the course of his career from 1996 to the present, including Tour de France stages - Stage 2 in 2007 and Stage 21 in 2008; yet he is better known for two other incidents. The first was his refusal to sign an anti-doping agreement with his Katusha team shortly before the 2009 Tour; an agreement which required any rider who was subsequently found guilty of doping to pay a fine to the team equal to five times their annual salary - though he has never tested positive, Steegmans refused even when Katusha didn't permit him to ride at the Tour and then dissolved his contract. The second was a bizarre accident that took place at the 2010 Paris-Nice when he was "attacked" by a whirlwind, which lifted him off his bike and into the air before throwing him to the ground and leaving him with a broken collarbone - an injury that is very common among cyclists, but in this instance sustained in an almost certainly unique way.

David García Dapena, who was born in Marin, Spain on this day in 1977, won stages at numerous races and came 23rd in the 2007 Vuelta a Espana before winning the Tour of Turkey and Stage 15 at the Vuelta in 2008. In 2009, he was 23rd at the Vuelta again, then 11th in 2010 - however, whilst at the Vuelta that year he failed a dope test, the sample he provided testing positive for first EPO and then Hydroxyethyl starch (which increases the blood's ability to transport oxygen to the muscles). As a result he was stripped of his 2010 Vuelta result and banned for two years, after which he announced his retirement. Following his ban, García worked with police as part of "Operacion Skype" and provided them with information that led to the arrest of Dr. Alberto Beltrán Niño, suspected of providing doping products to riders from the several well-known teams that have employed him over many years.

Kenny van Hummel, born in Elden, Netherlands on this day in 1982, is a sprint specialist who ha achieved a great many very good results and numerous victories in races that ended with a sprint. It is, therefore, a little unfair that he has been labelled the Tour de France's Worst Ever Climber, as declared by L'Equipe in 2009 when he finished every mountain stage in last place prior to being injured in Stage 17 and abandoning the race. Those who are less cruel will point out that, long before van Hummel left, several other riders had already abandoned, citing the tough climbs as the reason. L'Equipe also did him a bit of a favour because he became a far greater celebrity in the Netherlands than he would have done through his results alone.

Iban Mayoz - frequently confused with fellow Basque Iban Mayo - was born in San Sebastián on this day in 1981. Unusual in that he is good in both prints and the mountains, he won the Sprints classification at the Vuelta al País Vasco and Euskal Bizikleta in 2008 and the Mountains classification at the Vuelta a Castilla y León in 2010.

Rolf Gölz, who was born in Bad Schussenried, West Germany on this day in 1962, became National Road Race Champion in 1985 and won Stage 15 at the Tour de France in 1987 - but his best year was 1988, when he won Stage 8 at the Tour as well as Paris-Brussels and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

Dmytro Grabovskyy, born in Ukraine on this day in 1985, was World Under-23 Road Race Champion in 2005 and won the King of the Mountains at Tirreno-Adriatico in 2010.

Enrique Peñalosa Londoño, born in Washington DC on this day in 1955, is a Liberal/Green Colombian politician who was mayor of Bogota from 1998 and 2001. As a New Urbanist, Peñalosa supported programs designed to remodel the city in favour of sustainable transport and to encourage people to give up private car ownership - among his successes was the construction of the city's Ciclorura, bicycle lanes that run alongside (but separate from) the roads. He also unsuccessfully attempted to purchase Bogota's private, members-only Country Club so that it could be demolished and turned into a public park.

Other cyclists born on this day: Philip Buys (South Africa, 1988); Bryce Beeston (New Zealand, 1947); Leif Larsen (Denmark, 1942); Joe Jones (Canada, 1944); Ingo Wittenborn (West Germany, 1964); Angelo Damiano (Italy, 1938); Jan Magiera (Poland, 1938); Javier Mejías (Spain, 1983); David Tanner (Australia, 1984); Gonçalo Amorim (Portugal, 1972, died 2012); Tomás Nistal (Spain, 1948); Wolfram Kühn (East Germany, 1950); Antonín Perič (Czechoslovakia, 1896, died 1980); Matthias Buxhofer (Austria, 1973).

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