Monday 15 October 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 15.10.12

Kirsten Wild
Born in Almelo, Netherlands on this day in 1982, Kirsten Wild turned professional with the @Home team in 2004, then rode for @Work the following year. During those first two seasons she enjoyed considerable success with eleven podium finishes, including second place at the Damesronde van Drenthe; then in 2006 she signed to the world famous AA and began winning. That year, having finished the Damesronde third, she won five times including two stages and the General Classification at the RaboSter Zeeuwsche Eilanden, where she beat Linda Villumsen and Iris Slappendel, as well as coming second at the National Individual Time Trial Championship. 2007 brought seven victories including the General Classification at the Tour of Poland; then in 2008 she won eight times - this time, her triumphs included the National Scratch Race Championship and the highly prestigious Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. She also finished second on three stages at the Giro Donne, in each case losing to the sheer power of Ina-Yoko Teutenberg in the bunch sprint, but beating future World Champion Giorgia Bronzini.

In 2009, Wild switched to the Cervelo Test Team where she first rode with British superstar Emma Pooley and the American Kristin Armstrong, one of the most successful riders in the history of the sport; her season started well with overall victory at the Tour of Qatar and second place at the Ronde van Vlaanderen (where she again lost to Teutenberg). She then added Le Tour du Grand Montréal, the Prologue and Stage 9 at the Giro Donne and Stages 1, 3 and 4 at the Holland Ladies' Tour (where she was second overall, beating Teutenberg but proving unable to match Marianne Vos) before ending the year with 15 wins in total. The following year, when Cervelo was joined by more British stars in the shape of Lizzie Armitstead and Sharon Laws (as well as some big-hitters from elsewhere, including Sarah Düster, Claudia Häusler, Charlotte Becker, Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel, Carla Ryan and Iris Slappendel), Wild won 17 times - another Tour of Qatar and RaboSter Zeeuwsche Eilanden, Stages 4 and 5 at the Holland Ladies' Tour (where she was second overall, again to Vos) and her first National Championship, for the Points Race, being the highlights.

Despite her success with Cervelo, Wild returned to AA in 2011 and spent most of the year concentrating on track racing - a wise plan as it brought two more National Championship titles for Points and Scratch, but she continued to perform well on the road and was third overall at the Holland Ladies' Tour. The Cervelo women's team closed down after sponsors withdrew funding at the end of the season; AA Drink snapped up most of their riders and Wild found herself once again riding with Pooley, Armitstead, Laws and fellow British rider Lucy Martin, winning Stages 1 and 3 in Qatar (third place overall, a third RaboSter Zeeuwsche Eilanden, two stages at the Lotto Decca Tour and one at the Brainwash Ladies' Tour (the Holland Ladies' Tour, renamed in honour of new sponsor Brainwash). She was also selected to compete at the Olympics, riding with the team that took sixth place in the Team Pursuit (and set a new record for a Dutch team while doing so) and was sixth in the Omnium.

Following sponsorship issues, owner Leontien van Moorsel announced in 2012 that, after many years competing at the top level of the sport, her team would not continue in 2013; shortly afterwards, Wild revealed that she will ride for Argos-Shimano in 2013.

Tom Boonen
Boonen followed by Cancellara,
Paris-Roubaix 2008
Born in Mol on this day in 1980, the Belgian Tom Boonen took second place at the Novices' National Road Race Championships in 1996, then came third at the Junior National Individual Time Trial Championship in 1998. Good performances at other races brought him to the attention of US Postal, then home to Lance Armstrong, which took him on as a trainee in September 2000 after he'd finished the Under-23 Paris-Roubaix in third place and gained several other promising results; with them he won the U-23 Paris-Tours.

In 2002, US Postal gave Boonen his first full professional contract and sent him to ride as a domestique for Johan Museeuw - the man who had inspired Boonen to become a professional cyclist - at Paris-Roubaix. Paris-Roubaix is, as all fans know, a race like no other: dangerous and difficult enough to have frightened some of the greatest riders the world has ever known so much that they refused to take part altogether, it has been described as "the last great madness of cycling." Riders making their debut rarely finish - and never do well. Except, that is, for Boonen: after Museeuw got away in a break, an unexpected opportunity to ride for himself fell into his lap when George Hincapie crashed out of the race and he finished in third place. Museeuw claimed in public that Boonen was the man who would replace him as the greatest Classics rider in the world, and became his mentor.

Spurred on by more podium finishes later in the season (and no doubt encouragement from Museeuw), Boonen knew that he could bypass the years of domestique duty that most riders must go through and head straight for the top; telling reporters that US Postal wasn't offering him the chances to go for the victories that he knew he could win he went to QuickStep-Davitamon for the start of 2003 and has remained there ever since. That year, having been third at Gent-Wevelgem, he rode the Vuelta a Espana and finished Stage 3 in third place and Stage 11 in second, but missed out on most of the rest of the season due to a knee injury. Fully recovered for 2004 he won stages at the Tour of Qatar and the Vuelta a Andalucia, then in the space of only two and a half weeks he won the E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem and Scheldeprijs; after winning the Tour de Picardie he rode his first Tour de France and won Stages 6 and 20, coming sixth in the Points competition. In 2005 he was second at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and won two stages at Paris-Nice, then - in two weeks - the E3 Harelbeke, then the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, the ninth man too have ever won both events in a single year. Museeuw was proved correct, Boonen had taken his place. He finished the year by becoming World Road Race Champion.

In 2006, Boonen won the Tour of Qatar and was third at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, won Stages 1, 2 and 4 at Paris-Nice, was first at the E3 Harelbeke and the Ronde van Vlaanderen then second at Paris-Roubaix (losing out to Fabian Cancellara and being promoted from fifth places after three riders finishing before him were disqualified for riding through a closed level crossing) before winning Scheldeprijs again. He also won Stage 1 at the Tour de Suisse and was third in the National Championships before returning to the Tour de France and finishing nine stages in the top ten, though he would abandon on the Alpe d'Huez stage. In 2007 he won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the Dwars door Vlanderen and the E3 Harelbeke and was third at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Milan-San Remo. At the Tour he won Stages 6 and 12, finishing seven others in the top ten and taking first place in the Points competition as a result. With his powerful sprint, Boonen might well have won more green jerseys at the Tour and could have been a powerful rival to the emerging Mark Cavendish. However, since 2007 he has structured his annual campaigns primarily around the Classics and Monuments while continuing to win stages and General Classifications at other stage races - as was the case in 2008 when he won the Tour of Qatar (a race made up purely of flat stages, ideal for the sprinters) and stages at the Tour of California and the Vuelta a Espana; but his most important result was a second victory at Paris-Roubaix. In May that year, Boonen tested positive for cocaine; since he could be shown to have used the drug recreationally outside of competition (and it's not considered performance-enhancing by WADA or the UCI) he escaped sanctions; but a deal to ride for Bouygues Télécom fell through and he was barred from the Tours de Suisse and France. In 2009 a criminal court later chose not to punish him after deciding that the media attention and uncertainty with regard to his future career had been sufficient punishment; fortunately QuickStep, stating that the positive result had come at a time when Boonen was experiencing unspecified difficulties that remained private, retained faith in them - he repaid them by repeating his earlier successes at the Tour of Qatar and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, then became National Road Race Champion - and won Paris-Roubaix for a third time, thus equaling Museeuw's tally. Two and a half weeks later, however, he once again tested positive for cocaine. Although the test was out of competition, when it was revealed that this was in fact the third time - a previous incident in 2007 having been hushed up - QuickStep had little choice but to suspend him while an investigation was carried out. He would soon be reinstated, but was not given permission by the Tour de France to take part until one day before the race began.

Many fans thought he'd win Paris-Roubaix for a fourth time in 2010, but his form was noticeably not what it had been the previous year: he won two stages at Qatar and another at Tirreno-Adriatico, but lost to Oscar Freire at Milan-San Remo and to Cancellara at the E3 Harelbeke and the Ronde van Vlaanderen before being fifth over the finish line in Roubaix. These disappointments would be explained soon afterwards when he was diagnosed with tendinitis, which put him out of contention for the rest of the season. 2011 was little better - he was 28th at Milan-San Remo, the climbs before the sprint finish getting the better of him, and ninth at the Dwars door Vlaanderen. He won Gent-Wevelgem, which proved to be his only Classics victory of the year, then came fourth at the Ronde van Vlaanderen and crashed out of Paris-Roubaix. Once again he rode at the Tour de France, finishing Stage 5 despite a crash; the injuries he sustained forced him to abandon two days later. The Vuelta a Espana ended in similar fashion with a crash in Stage 16, this time his injuries prevented him from competing at the World Championships.

Winning a fourth Paris-Roubaix, 2012
The Tour of Qatar has become something of a barometer for Boonen, his success or lack thereof in the race providing fans with an indication of how well he's likely to do later in the year - there was much excitement, therefore, when he won the General Classification and the Points competition in 2012. At the end of February he was second at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad; then he won Stage 2 at Paris-Nice . In the middle of March he was 22nd at Milan-San Remo, then towards the end of the month he won the E3 Harelbeke. Two days later he won Gent-Wevelgem too, then a week after that he won his third Ronde van Vlaanderen and joined Museeuw as one five riders to have done so. None of these victories compared to Paris-Roubaix, however: by winning a fourth time, he did what Museeuw had tried and failed to do, equaling the record set by Roger de Vlaeminck 35 years earlier and becoming the only rider to have won the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix in a single year twice.

Boonen is now 32 years old - the age at which many cyclists achieve their greatest triumphs. If his form is as good in 2013 as it was in 2012, he may yet become the first man to have won four editions of the Ronde van Vlaanderen and possibly even surpass de Vlaeminck at cycling's toughest race. For the vast numbers of fans who rate the Monuments - and Paris-Roubaix in particular - as the most prestigious competitions in cycling, that would make him arguably the greatest rider to have ever lived.

Born in Eltham, Great Britain on this day in 1945, Reg Barnett became Amateur National Sprint Champion in 1968, then signed up to Holdsworth-Campagnolo as a professional for 1969 and became Elite National Sprint Champion. In 1970 he went to the Clive Stuart team and successfully defended his title, then in 1971 with Falcon-Tighe he exchanged it for the National Stayers Championship instead, winning back the Sprint title that year. He continued with Falcon the next year but also rode for Coventry EagleIn 1973 and 1974, Barnett raced with Ti-Raleigh, the team that would later become one of the most successful in the history of cycling; he won the National Sprint Championship again in 1973 but then won nothing the following season. In 1975 he returned to Falcon, remaining with them until the end of 1977 when he also rode for his own Barnett-Edwards-Shimano team, but won no further races.

Roberta Bonanomi, born in Sotto il Monte, Italy on this day in 1966, raced at the Olympics in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000; her best result being 23rd place in the road race in 1984. In 1989 she won the Giro Donne and the Tour of Norway, yet despite many more good results she didnlt turn professional until joining Acca Due'O in 1999.

Susy Pryde, born in Waipukurau, New Zealand on this day in 1973, won a silver medal in the road race at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, then another in the cross-country mountain bike race at the next Games four years later. She was National Road Race Champion in 1998.

Susan DeMattei, born in the USA on this day in 1962, took up road racing and mountain biking whilst studying at California State University and soon discovered she had a great talent for climbing - before long, she was beating male rivals and setting records in local hill-climb competitions. In 1989 she came second at the World Cross-Country Championships, a result she repeated in 1994; in 1996 she won the bronze medal for the mountain bike race at the Olympics.

Philip Cassidy, born in the Republic of Ireland on this day in 1961, won the Shay Elliott Memorial in 1982, Rás Tailteann in 1983 and 1999, the Archer International GP in 1988 and the Irish Sea Tour of the North and Tour of Ulster in 2000. In 1999 he was National Independent Time Trial Champion.

Fritz Pfenninger, born in Zurich on this day in 1934, was a professional rider between 1955 and 1972. During that time he was three times European Madison Champion (with Klaus Bugdahl in 1962 and with Peter Post in 1964 and 1967) and three times National Sprint Champion (1965, 1966 and 1967). Most of his 43 professional victories came at the Six-Day races - he won 33, partnering with Post for 19 of them.

Born in Trinidad and Tobago on this day in 1961, Gene Samuel came fourth in the Kilo at the Olympics in 1984, then won first a silver, then a gold and a bronze at the PanAmerican Games in 1987, 1991 (when he was also third at the World Championships) and 1995, all for the same event. Samuel turned professional with Gatorade-Chateau d'Ax at the unusually late age of 30, then went to Stesstabs in 1993, Zipp-Vitus in 1994 and Helmet Warriors in 1995, after which he retired. He later returned to competition and, having picked up good results in 2006, won the Trinidadian Easter GP and came third at the National Championships a year later. Still racing today, he was fourth at the Trinidad and Tobago Season Opener in 2012.

Georges Pintens, born in Antwerp, Belgium on this day in 1946, won the Amstel Gold Race in 1970, Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour de Suisse (and was second at Liège-Bastogne-Liège) in 1971, Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 1974 and Stage 1 at the Vuelta a Espana in 1976.

Other cyclists born on this day: Anatoliy Starkov (USSR, 1946); Lê Văn Phươc (South Vietnam, 1929); Lino Benech (Uruguay, 1947); Andreas Langl (Austria, 1966); Scott McKinley (USA, 1968); Ahmed Belgasem (Libya, 1987); Luis Sosa (Uruguay, 1949); Fred McCarthy (Canada, 1881, died 1974); José Goyeneche (Spain, 1940); Gregor Gazvoda (Yugoslavia, 1981).

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