Sunday 28 October 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 28.10.12

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg
Ina-Yoko Teutenberg in 2008
Cycling, it is said, is uniquely cruel among sports - most riders are expected to give up any chance they might have ever had of winning races (for the majority of riders, that's no chance at all) and can expect little public recognition for their efforts, though any team leader who wants to ensure the continued support of their domestiques will make certain he or she shows some appreciation. Those that do make it can, in most cases, expect no more than a handful of years at the top; and they have to fight off challenges and challengers each and every day that they're there. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, born in Düsseldorf on this day in 1974, has been doing precisely that for two decades since she came second in the German Road Race Championships of 1993 when she was 19 years old. By that point, she'd already been racing for thirteen years; having started because she didn't want to miss out on anything her two older brothers Lars and Sven. In her very first race, she attacked so hard right from the start that she only got 500m up the road before crashing hard enough to completely destroy the bike. The following day she borrowed a heavy, low-geared town bike and entered another race, this time beating all but two of the boys taking part. What really gave Ina an edge, however, was not the power that, years later, would take her to victories in the biggest and most prestigious races in cycling but that she rapidly learned to reign it in and make efficient use of it; before long, she was beating her brothers and their older, more experienced rivals and winning races.

"Teut" in 2012
That wasn't her first taste of glory: two years earlier she had won the Junior World Points and Road Race Championships. Teutenberg's strongest point has always been her phenomenally strong sprint, which earned her the bronze medal at the Elite National Road Race Championship in 1995; in 1996 the Thüringen-Rundfahrt and the Flevotour; in 1998 stages at the Women's Challenge and Holland Ladies' Tour and in 1999 two more stages at the Women's Challenge - all before she'd even signed her first professional contract, which came in 2000 when she joined the Red Bull Frankfurt team. That year she won another two stages at the Women's Challenge and one at the Holland Ladies' Tour; then over the course of the following years she won more stages at all of the premier women's cycling events including more at the Women's Challenge and Holland Ladies' Tour, the Tour de Toona, the Tour de l'Aude, the Tour of New Zealand, the Giro Donne, the Trophée d'Or Féminin, the Gracia Orlova, the Route de France and the Giro della Toscana. Gradually and while sprinting remained her preferred way to win, she had developed from a specialist into a very talented all rounder and, from 2008, she began winning General Classifications and prestigious one-day races. The first was the RaboSter Zeeuwsche Eilanden; she won it again in 2009 and also won the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Redlands, the Drentse 8 van Dwingeloo and the National Road Race Championship, then in 2010 she won Redlands, Dwingeloo, the Tour of Chongming Island (and the World Cup round held there), the Liberty Classic and the Points competition at the Tour de l'Aude. In 2011 she won the stage race and the World Cup round at Chongming Island again before winning another National Road Race Championship (she was also third at the Worlds), and in 2012 she won the Energiwacht Tour and finished the Road Race at the Olympics in fourth place.

Teutenberg has stated for a number of years that she would retire when aged 38. Her absence at races will be sorely felt even by those who see her as a dangerous rival because Ina has become one of women's cycling's unofficial spokespeople, a rider who reveals what the entire peloton is thinking and - in the word of one of her comrades at Specialized-Lululemon, the team for which she raced in 2012 - "she tells it like it is with no sugar-coating." Hopefully, once she's had a rest she'll take up some managerial role with the team: her experience, intelligence and character are too great a resource for women's cycling to lose.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones
Born in Cheadle, Great Britain on this day in 1957, Graham Jones was a highly talented footballer as a boy and earned a place on Manchester United's development team before seeing the light and giving up football in favour of cycling. For the first couple of years he was hopeless, but he fell in love with the sport and, when he was sixteen, won a race at Macclesfield. In 1975, his final year racing as a junior, he beat Elite National Pursuit Champion Malcolm Fraser; then in 1976 he spent five months racing in the Netherlands before moving to Belgium the following year and being selected to race in the Peace Race and at the Etoile des Espoirs, where he showed that he was able to compete with riders such as Bernard Hinault, then in 1978 he followed what would become the most beaten of paths for British riders hoping to make it big in European cycling by moving to France and joining the Athletic Club de Boulogne Billencourt. In 1978 he won fifteen races including the Amateur and Under-23 versions of the GP des Nations an the GP de France, which earned him the Palme d'Or Merlin Plage season-long competition as the most successful amateur in French cycling and an offer of a professional contract with Peugeot-Esso-Michelin, which he joined for the 1979 season.

As is usually the case when a rider first makes the jump into professional cycling, the increased level of competition took Jones by surprise and he achieved only three notable results, all second places, that year - however, one was at the GP St-Raphael and one at the Critérium International: impressive, prestigious finishes against a very strong field. The following year, 1980, he rode his first Tour de France and finished Stage 7a in second place before coming 49th in the final General Classification; in 1981 he was second at the Clasica San Sebastian and Tour Méditerranéen and third at the National Road Race Championhips before returning to the Tour and finishing in 20th place overall. He had hoped to impress in the Critérium International that year too and looked set to do so when he dropped no less a rider than Le Patron himself, Hinault; but his chances were ruined when a press motorbike caused him to crash.

In 1982, Jones took second place behind Alfons de Wolf (and in front of Sean Kelly and Roger de Vlaeminck, whom he caught and dropped) at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the greatest moment of his career. Yet the season would be disastrous overall - while Jones was being called one of the classiest riders Britain had ever produced, his successes had come at a price - still only 24 years old, he had been overworked and when he broke a femur in an accident in Cheshire it took him ar longer to recover than expected. In 1983 his best stage finish at the Tour was 15th for Stage 8 but he finished the majority of the rest much further down, dropping 49 places from his promising 1981 result to 69th overall. In 1984 he failed to finish, then 1985 turned out to be his third consecutive year without any victories at all; fans realised that an enormous talent - one that, had it have been better managed, might have become one of Britain's greatest ever cyclists, perhaps even won a Monument and reached the podium at the Tour de France - had been squandered.

Jones continued racing through 1986 and 1987. In 1986, he finished third and then second on two stages at the Milk Race, then won Stage 1 at the Mercian Two-Day; in 1987 his ANC-Halfords team went to the Tour de France - his best performance was 60th place on Stage 1 and he abandoned a few days later.

Robinson Merchán, born in Elvira, Venezuela on this day in 1974, won the Road Race at the PanAmerican Games in 1991.

Cora Westland, born in Bussum, Netherlands on this day in 1962, rode with Leontien van Moorsel, Astrid Schop and Monique Knol to win the World 50km Team Time Trial Championship in 1990.

Born in Odder, Denmark on this day in 1946, Niels Fredborg won numerous Amateur National and World titles on the track in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. In 1972 he won the Kilo at the Olympics - the only medal won by a Danish athlete at the Games that year.

Eugeniusz Michalak, who was born in Warsaw on this day in 1908, was National Cyclo Cross Champion in 1929, 1930 and 1933, National Tandem Champion (with Artur Pusz) in 1931 and rode with the winning team at the National Team Time Trial Championship of 1937.

Ludo Delcroix, who was born in Kalmthout, Belgium on this day in 1950, won Stage 5 at the Tour de Romandie in 1977 and Stage 9 at the Tour de France in 1979.

François Simon, born in Troyes on this day in 1968, won Stage 15 at the Giro d'Italia in 1992 and became National Road Race Champion in 1999. In 2001 he wore the yellow jersey for three days and finished sixth overall at the Tour de France, the best performance by a French rider that year.

Károly Nemes-Nótás, born in Budapest on this day in 1911, won the Tour of Hungary in 1935.

Other cyclists born on this day: Fan Yue-Tao (Taipei, 1949); Marco Cattaneo (Italy, 1957); Luiz Carlos Flores (Brazil, 1950); Lieke Klaus (Netherlands, 1989); Stephen Goodall (Australia, 1956); Adam Duvendeck (USA, 1981); Chesen Frey (United States Virgin Islands, 1973).

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