Born above his father's Wolverhampton bike shop on this day in 1909, Percy Thornley Stallard became the man responsible to the reintroduction of mass-start cycling road races in Great Britain.
The ban on road races had come about as the result of an incident in 1890 when a group of cyclists spooked a horse, resulting in an overturned carriage and a complaint to the police; this convinced the National Cyclists' Union that any further complaint would be likely to result in all bikes being banned from the nation's roads and they introduced a rule stating that mass-start races could only be held at velodromes or on sites such as airfields. Individual time trials, in which each cyclist rides alone against the clock, were not banned as the general public are unlikely to realise that a race is even in progress when they see one cyclist and it was easy to hold them in secret; this is the reason that time trials remain more popular in Britain than elsewhere even today and why many cycling clubs like to refer to time trial routes using codes rather than place names - it's also the reason that, until comparatively recently, British cyclists tended to do so badly when they went abroad to compete in road races.
NCU official A.P. Chamberlin was not favourable, writing back to explain the reasons behind the ban and stating that the organisation wouldn't even consider changing its policy. However, now that airfields were being used by the Army and Royal Air Force races were few and far between, so Stallard put the word around that there would be an unofficial meeting at the bottom of Shropshire's Long Mynd, a range of hills that has long been popular among cyclists. It was there that he revealed his plan to hold a 95km on the 7th of July that year from Llangollen in North Wales to Wolverhampton, without the support of the NCU but with the backing of the police - he'd spoken to them to get an idea of how they might react and, rather than threatening a ban, they'd been extremely favourable and offered their help.
The NCU, meanwhile, were furious and set about doing all they could to prevent the race from going ahead, but Stallard would not back down and the race went ahead. A thousand people turned out to see the riders cross the finish line and the event a success by the organisers and the police. Now, the NCU's anger passed beying fury - Stallard and fifteen others involved in organising the race were handed a sine die ban: one without a specific date upon which it would end but which could be lifted at any time if the subject either successfully appealed or, as the organisation presumably hoped would be the case in this instance, apologised and did as he or she was told. Yet still Stallard would not back down, especially now that he had proved mass-start races could be held on British roads, so in November he helped launch the British League of Racing Cyclists - an organisation of like-minded riders that act as an umbrella body co-ordinating a number of pre-existing groups and would go head-to-head with the cycling establishment.
Stallard was not fundamentally opposed to the NCU itself, but to the entrenched attitudes and beliefs it held - it didn't take long before he started to feel the same way about the BLRC, and he was briefly banned after criticising it. In time, the NCU and BLRC merged to form the British Cycling Federation, which Stallard saw as treason - when one of his employees, Ralph Jones (who had finished in sixth at the Llangollen-Wolverhampton race) went to Spain as part of the group visiting a UCI meeting that led to the BCF becoming recognised as Britain's cycling governing body, he sacked him the day he got back.
Mauro Ribeiro, born in Curitiba, Brazil on this day in 1964, won Stage 9 at the Tour de France in 1991. He was the first Brazilian stage winner in Tour history.
Other cyclists born on this day: Jocelyn Lovell (Canada, 1950); Gorgi Popstefanov (Yugoslavia - now Macedonia, 1987); Edvandro Cruz (Brazil, 1978); Alois Kaňkovský (Czechoslovakia, 1983); Cipriano Chemello (Italy, 1945); Carlos Zárate Fernández (Spain, 1980); Frank Meissner (USA, 1894, died 1966); Vincent Gomgadja (Central African Republic, 1960); Francisca Campos (Chile, 1985); Liudmyla Vypyrailo (Ukraine, 1979); Laurence Burnside (Bahamas, 1946); Victor Hopkins (USA, 1904, died 1969); Rudi Ceyssens (Belgium, 1962).