Tuesday 28 May 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 28.05.2013

The second edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the oldest of the five Monument races, took place on this day in 1893 - the only time it has fallen on this date and, since it's now held between mid to late April, it never will again. Run for a second and final year as an amateur event, it was won for the second of three consecutive years by Léon Houa; it took him 10h42" to complete the 250km parcours - almost seven minutes faster than the previous year. 30' behind him was Michel Borisowski, who is sometimes incorrectly said to have been Russian but was in fact Belgian. There are only two known photographs of Houa - one can be seen on the right; the other will appear tomorrow, the anniversary of the first edition of the race.

Michael Boogerd
Michael Boogerd, who was born in The Hague on this day in 1972 and was later - somewhat unsurprisingly - nicknamed The Boogeyman, became a professional cyclist with the WordPerfect team in 1994 and remained with them for his entire career as the squad found new sponsors and changed its name, first to Novell and then to Rabobank.

Boogerd's speciality was the Ardennes Classics, the hilly courses suiting his wiry physique very well, yet he was frequently outclassed by riders such as Michele Bartoli, Johan Museeuw and Erik Dekker, which saw him earn a reputation as an "eternal second." Shortly after his retirement in 2007 he dismissed the claim, and with some justification: after all, he had won an Amstel Gold Race in 1999 and two editions of the Brabantse Pijl (2001, 2003). Not all Classics specialists can carry their talent over into the stage races, but Boogerd enjoyed some success here too - including a stage win at his very first Tour de France (Stage 6, 1996), fifth overall at the Tour two years later, another stage victory at the 2002 Tour (Stage 16) and numerous other good results. His greatest achievement, meanwhile, were his three National Championships: he won the title in 1997, 1998 and 2006.

An enormously popular rider among the Dutch public, not least of all on account of his dazzling white smile and boy band looks, Boogerd was 50% of the inspiration for the book Michael & Erik - which covers the his and Erik Dekker's careers.

Diana Žiliūtė
Diana Žiliūtė
Diana Žiliūtė, born in Rietavas on this day in 1976, is a Lithuanian cyclist who first appeared on the international scene in 1994 when she won the Junior World Road Race Championship. Three years later she won the European Under-23 Time Trial Championship and then in 1998 the Elite World Road Race Cup and Championship.

Thus began the career of Lithuania's most successful cyclist of all time - she would go on to build up one of the most impressive palmares of any cyclist during the late 1990s and first decade of the 21st Century with a series of victories at the Giro Donne (Stage 3, 2000; Stage 13, 2001; Prologue and Stage 6, 2004), the Tour de France Féminin (GC, 1999; Prologue, Stages 1, 5, 6 and 7, 2006; Stages 1, 2b and 3, 2008; Prologue, 2009), the Women's Challenge (Stage 3, 1998; Stages 3 and 6, 2000), the Holland Ladies' Tour (Stages 1, 2 and 7, 2003) and the Vuelta Ciclista a Navarra (GC and Stages 1, 2, 3 and 4, 2000). In addition, she won a second World Cup in 2000, the Trofeo Alfredo Binda in 2003, the GP Liberazione and the Giro di San Marino in 2006, the Tour de Prince Edward Island in 2007 and the Giro della Toscana in 2009.

Tom Southam, born in Penzance on this day in 1981, was the rider who, along with Charlie Wegelius, caused controversy at the 2005 World Championships when they chose to ride in support of the leader of the Liquigas-Bianchi trade team rather than Team GB leader Roger Hammond. Like Wegelius he paid a high price for doing so, becoming persona non grata in the eyes of many fans for some years after the incident.

Rohan Dennis, an Australian cyclist born on this day in 1990, has won several gold medals at the National Track Championships and the World Track Cup. In 2010 he began to make his mark on the road, too, winning the Under-23 National Time Trial title after coming first overall at the Geelong Tour. In 2012, he won the U-23 National TT and road race, then came fifth overall at the Tour Down Under - and look to be on the verge of beginning a great career.

Cees van Espen, a Dutch rider born in Arnhem on this day in 1938, was one of that vast majority of cyclists who middle along, winning a provincial race here and there but never quite finding what it takes to make it into the upper echelons. Among his modest victories were Culemborg in 1961, the Ronde van Twente in 1962, Ossendrecht two years later - and Stage 5a at the 1965 Tour de France.

Other cyclists born on this day: Mickaël Bourgain (France, 1980); Luke Madill (Australia, 1980); Wim van Huffel (Belgium, 1979); Vagn Bangsborg (Denmark, 1936); Arve Haugen (Norway, 1943); Bjørnar Vestøl (Norwayy, 1974); Scott Richardson (South Africa, 1971); Chris Koberstein (Canada, 1968).

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