Thursday 8 November 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 08.11.12

On this day in 1949, German track rider Paul Kroll died during the Berlin 1000 Laps at the Funkturm Velodrome

Nicolas Frantz
Nicolas Frantz
Nicolas Frantz, the Luxembourg-born winner of the Tour de France in 1927 and 1928, died on this day in 1985 - four days after his 86th birthday. The son of a wealthy family, Frantz was expected by his parents to take over their profitable farm but he showed no interest in doing so and, having won the fist race he entered, decided in 1914 that cycling would be his life.

The First World War brought most European cycling to a halt, and also ended the lives of many of ther great riders from before the conflict. By 1923 when Frantz turned professional, however, a new generation had arisen to take their place; riders such as Ottavio Bottecchia who won the Tour (the first Italian to do so and the first rider to have ever worn the maillot jaune from beginning to end) in 1924 and 1925. Frantz's first Tour was 1924 and he finished in second place, 35'36" behind Bottecchia but almost an hour ahead of Lucien Buysse. The following year Frantz was fourth, then second again in 1926.

During Stage 11 in 1927 a relatively unknown touriste-routier named Michele Gordini managed to secretly launch a solo breakaway and, in those days before race radio and team cars with Internet, it took the peloton so long to discover his absence that he built up a lead of 45 minutes before they gave chase. Had he have maintained it he'd have begun the next stage in the maillot jaune, but mechanical problems put him out of action and Frantz, who had led the efforts to catch him, won the stage and became race leader. By the end of Stage 16 his lead stood at over an hour; he would subsequently lose time to Maurice Dewaele but, with the mountains behind them, the race was his. In 1928, Frantz topped Bottecchia's 1924 achievement by starting in yellow and keeping the jersey all the way to finish. Disaster seemed about to rob him of victory in Stage 19 when his frame snapped on a railway crossing, but he borrowed a step-through bike from a woman watching the race and was assisted back to the peloton by his Alcyon team, continuing on it though it was too small for him until he could be supplied with a replacement Alcyon machine and went on to win his second Tour.

Among Frantz's other achievements were victory at the National Road Race Championships from 1923 to 1934 and at the Tour of the Basque Country in 1926.

Happy birthday to Jan Raas, the Dutch ex-World Road Champion (1979) and winner of ten stages in the Tour de France. Raas also won two Ronde van Vlandaarens, a Paris-Roubaix, Milan-San Remo and five Amstel Gold Races during the 1970s and 80s. He later became manager of Team Rabobank, a position he held until 2003.

George Pilkington Mills, an English cyclist who won the first Bordeaux-Paris in 1891, died on this day in 1945.

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