Wednesday 22 May 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 22.05.2013

Eugeni Berzin
The Giro d'Italia has ended on this day once - in 1913 (when it had started on the 6th of May) - and started once, in 1994. 1994 covered 3,739km in 22 stages and was won for the first time by a Russian, Eugeni Berzin. Berzin had won Liège-Bastogne-Liège earlier that year and was immediately singled out as a future great but never quite got there. He was second in the Giro in 1995 and won Stage 21, then won Stage 18 at the Giro, Stage 8 and wore the yellow jersey at the Tour de France in 2006, then vanished from the pages of cycling history.

Christian Vande Velde
Also spelled van de Velde, van der Velde, Vandevelde and in assorted other ways with varying capital position, Christian Vande Velde was born in Lemont, Illinois on this day in 1976. Now one of the peloton's elder statesmen, he turned professional with US Postal in 1998 and rode as a domestique for Lance Armstrong but very rapidly emerged as a super-domestique capable of winning races for himself.

Christian Vande Velde, pictured in 2009
His ability was allowed to flourish after a move to CSC in 2005 from Liberty-Seguros with whom he'd spent a year - though still a domestique (for Carlos Sastre and the young Frank Schleck), the team permitted him to take shots at glory for himself as was the case at the Eneco Tour that year when he led a breakaway during Stage 4 and drove it to a six second lead (unfortunately, it would ultimately fail - course officials somehow managed to direct the peloton along the wrong route and the break was ordered to stop and wait until they were brought back to the right road, reducing their advantage to four minutes). It was at the Tour de France in 2006 that he revealed himself to be one of the strongest climbers in the peloton, forcing the peloton up to such a high rate during Stage 16 that Floyd Landis - whose results would later be disqualified after he was found guilty of doping - cracked under pressure from Sastre and Schleck. Michael Rasmussen (who would be kicked out of the Tour the next year after failing to inform doping control of his whereabouts and later got a two-year ban as a result) won the stage, but the very next day Vande Velde worked with his team mate Jens Voigt and T-Mobile's Matthias Kessler and Serhiy Honchar to once again pile on the pressure as the peloton climbed to Morzine - this time, Sastre won.

Vande Velde remained with CSC until the end of 2007, riding another Tour and Vuelta a Espana with them, then received a new contract with Slipstream-Chipotle for 2008: the team that realised he had General Classification potential. No longer a domestique, he fought hard at the Tour that year and finished in fifth place overall, later upgraded to fourth following the disqualification and suspension of Bernhard Kohl who tested poitive for EPO variant CERA. In 2009, he was eighth.

The next two years, which might have brought his Grand Tour victory, were marked by bad luck. He was forced to abandon the Giro during Stage 3 following a crash (the same had happened, on the same stage, in 2009); then skidded on a patch of oil left by a film crew's motorbike and broke two ribs at the Tour. Still racing with the same team - by then renamed Garmin-Cervélo and now Garim-Barracuda - Vande Velde's 2011 results, including 17th at the Tour, suggest that while his best years may be gone he remains a very capable rider, as was seen in the 2012 Giro when he protected Ryder Hesjedal through the mountains and was thus instrumental in the first ever victory by a Canadian rider.

Vande Velde's early career coincided with that of Lance Armstrong, the two men having been team mates at US Postal from 1998 to 2004. In May 2012 news broke that USADA were conducting a large-scale investigation into doping at the team during that period, an investigation that rapidly led to Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France victories. Perhaps accidentally, perhaps due to a subconscious decision  that it was better to come clean before more names were named, Jonathan Vaughters - manager of Garmin-Sharp, the team for which Vandevelde had ridden since 2008, who had admitted a month earlier that he had doped during his own cycling career - stated online in September that Vande Velde and two other riders on the team (David Zabriskie and Tom Danielson) all had what he termed "a past." In Vande Velde's case, this amounted to using a drug that boosted red blood cell production, later confirmed in the affidavit he provided to USADA to have been EPO. Less than a month later, USADA announced that Vande Velde was to be banned from competition for six months and stripped of all results gained between the 4th of June 2004 and the 30th of April 2006, a decision that the rider publicly accepted. The following day, he released a statement in which he said: "I’m very sorry for the mistakes I made in my past and I know that forgiveness is a lot to ask for. I know that I have to earn it and I will try, every day, to deserve it – as I have, every day, since making the choice to compete clean. I will never give up on this sport, and I will never stop fighting for its future."

Jean-Christophe Péraud, born in Toulouse in this day in 1977, was a mountain biker who won a cross-country silver medal for France in the 2008 Olympics. One year later he surprised the cycling world by winning the National Time Trial Championship and suddenly turned out to be a first-rate road cyclist - in 2010, he took ninth place at Paris-Nice, then fourth in the Tour of the Basque Country; and a year later he was second at the Tour Méditerranéen, sixth at both Paris-Nice and the Critérium International and ninth at the Tour de France.

Raymond Martin, born in Saint-Pierre-du-Regard on this day in 1949, won the French National Amateur Championship in 1972, came third overall and won the King of the Mountains at the 1980 Tour de France and then eighth overall at the Tour in 1982.

Maurice Bardonneau was born on this day in Saint-Maurice, France in 1885. In 1906, he was World Stayer (ie motorpaced) Champion and won Stage 1 at Paris-Brussels and he would win bronze medals at the National Stayers Championships in 1907 and 1910 before retiring. Other than that he died at Issy-les-Moulineaux on the 3rd of July 1958, virtually nothing else is known about him.

Now retired, Andrus Aug won a bronze medal twice and silver once in the Estonian National Championships and then had a few years in which he performed well in stage races - including the 2001 Tour du Maroc when he won five stages. Born in Jõgeva on this day in 1972, he retired from professional racing at the end of the 2007 season but continued to ride in amateur events through 2008.

Sherwood CC, a cycling club based in Nottingham, was formed on this day in 1931. Among the club's many past members are Frank Beale, who represented England in the Manx International of 1950, and John Kettell, a National Junior Champion in the 1970s.

Other cyclists born on this day: Vladimír Vondráček (Czechoslovakia, 1949); Hussain Eslami (Iran, 1969); Douglas Lamb (Belize, 1968); Mario Contreras (El Salvador, 1987); Frank Francken (Belgium, 1964); Győző Török (Hungary, 1935); Helle Sørensen (Denmark, 1963); Karl Gulbrandsen (Norway, 1892, died 1973); Atilio François (Uruguay, 1922, died 1997); José Manuel Lasa (Spain, 1940); Dan Frost (Denmark, 1961); Roger Thull (Luxembourg, 1939); Ahad Kazemi Sarai (Iran, 1975); Tom Bamford (New Zealand, 1963); María Belén Dutto (Argentina, 1987); Márcio May (Brazil, 1972).

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