Saturday 8 June 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 08.06.2013

Louise Jones
Louise Jones, who was born in Chatham, England on this day in 1963 but competes for Wales on account of her Welsh ancestry, won the very first gold medal ever awarded for a women's cycling event at the Commonwealth Games when she won the Sprint - the first time a women' cycling race was included in the Games.

In 1998, she won a silver medal in the National Road Race Championships. Two years later she retired from racing and took on a new job as a UCI commissaire, having performed the same role for British Cycling since 1994.

Lorne Atkinson
Lorne Charles Atkinson, born in Vancouver on this day in 1921, was the son of a Scottish professional cyclist and coach who encouraged his son to develop an interest in cycling and supported him through the early years of his career. During that era, six-day meets formed the core of North American racing and Lorne earned his nickname - Ace - after a newspaper headlined a report with "City ace triumphs in Province Cup." From 1948, he began to compete internationally and represented Canada in the 1,000 time trial, individual and team road races and Pursuit at the Olympic Games in London that year, coming 15th in the TT at Herne Hill Velodrome.

Lorne Atkinson
After the Second World War when the USA, relatively untouched by the conflict in comparison to Europe, began to rise as the world's dominant superpower; entering a new Golden Age in which housing and motorised transport became cheaper than ever before. Canada took full advantage, and for the first time anybody who wanted a car, and was able to drive one, could have one. North American cycling suffered, and has only began to recover in the last two decades. However, whereas the majority of native cyclists lived out their careers in near-ubiquitous obscurity, Atkinson' passionate championing of the bike and bike sport made him more famous than ever. As races closed down across the continent, he set up new ones; tirelessly badgering potential sponsors and recruiting organisers. To many, he must have seemed a strange eccentric; but it's probably not stretching things too much to say that he personally kept the sport alive in the USA and Canada during the 1950s and 1960s.

Atkinson also supported cycling at a grass-roots, local level - Ace Cycles, the bike shop he set up in Vancouver an ran for sixty years (the company still exists) became far more than simply a place to go and drool over the latest ultra-light European exotica; it was also where young cyclists went to meet others, chat and exchange ideas. Lorne himself was often on hand to give out advice on bikes, components, tactics and cycling in general, and was well-known for his willingness to cut deals with youngsters who showed potential. By doing so, not only did he save North American cycling, he helped feed it with new talent.

Travis Meyer
Travis Meyer, younger brother of Cameron, was born in Viveash, Australia on this day in 1989. Making his race debut in 2005, Meyer won second place in the national Club Championships individual time trial, then from 2006 began adding numerous victories at both the National and World Junior Track Championships and in 2008 won the Tours of Berlin and Wellington on the road. That earned him a place at the Australian Institute of Sport. A year later, having gained a professional contract with Garmin-Transitions, he became National Road Race Champion.

In 2011, Meyer announced that he had signed to the new Australian ProTour team GreenEDGE. With their backing, he's likely to be a fixture in the top echelons of professional cycling for ar least another decade.

Edouard Muller
Edouard Muller
Edouard Muller, who was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine on this day in 1919, picked up a few good results as an amateur before the Second World War and earned a contract with Alcyon-Dunlop in 1942. The team was not as strong as it had been before and in the years immediately after the First World War, when it was home to such cycling luminaries as Eugène Christophe, Gustave Garrigou, Henri Pélissier, Louis Trousellier and Jean Alvoine (all of whom were riding for the team in 1912), but it remained powerful and Muller rode alongside Emile Idée, who won both the Critérium International and the GP des Nations that year.

He would remain with them for eight seasons, always a domestique but grabbing a few respectable results along the way, as was the case when he won the Tour de l'Ouest in 1947. In his tenth professional season he beat Hugo Koblet (who, to be fair, didn't really need the stage and was saving himself for the time trial the next day), Fausto Coppi (who was in mourning for his brother and not riding at anything like his usual level) and Gino Bartali (who was getting on a bit) and became the surprise winner of Stage 6 at the 1951 Tour de France, the first year that the race ever climbed Mont Ventoux.

On this day in 2008, it was announced that Clara Hughes would be honoured with a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame in Toronto.

Ben Hermans, born in Hasselt on this day in 1986, became Junior Time Trial Champion of Belgium in 2004; then got on with his career in the time-honoured Belgian way of entering plenty of his nation's infamously races in order to put some iron in his legs. It worked - in 2010, he was offered a contract with RadioShack, and at the end of 2011 he was one of the RadioShack riders to survive the cull that made room for incoming riders from Leopard Trek. In 2012, he was 12th in Stage 12 at the Giro d'Italia.

Ad Tak, born in Nieuwe Gastel on this day in 1953, represented the Netherlands at the Olympics in 1976 and came 70th on the road race. A professional between 1980 and 1986, he got onto the podium at a few criterium races and won a stage at the Zes van Rijn en Gouwe in 1985, the last year it was held. His amateur career had been far more successful with several criterium victories, a stage win at the 1975 Österreich-Rundfahrt, second place for Stage 10 at the Tour of Britain (or the Milk Race, as it was called in those days) in 1976 and, also in 1975, the National Amateur Road Race Championship.

Other births: Guillermo Gutiérrez (Mexico, 1964); Andrey Minashkin (USSR, 1976); Gary West (Australia, 1960); Rubén Priede (Argentina, 1966); Mick Bennett (Great Britain, 1949); Hwang Chang-Sik (South Korea, 1943); Luis Ángel de los Santos (Uruguay, 1926); Joseph Polidano (Malta, 1940); Walter Bucher (Switzerland, 1926); Geoff Skaines (Australia, 1953).

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