Sunday 8 September 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 08.09.2013

Jean-Pierre Monseré
Jean-Pierre Monseré, born on this day in 1948 in Roeselare, Belgium and known as Jempi, turned professional with the famous Flandria team in 1969 and won the Giro di Lombardia that year. In 1970, he won the World Road Race Championship - thus becoming the second youngest rider to have done so at 22 years old (for all you fact hounds, the youngest was Karel Kaers who was 20 when he won in 1934). 1971 started well with victory at the Vuelta a Andalucia, but tragedy struck on the 15th of March in 1971:  he was killed instantly during the Grote Jaarmarktprijs when he collided with a car on the parcours between Lille and Gierle.

A monument erected at the spot where he died can be found on the N140 (51° 15' 9.54" N  4° 50' 34.71" E). He left behind his wife and one-year-old son Giovanni. In an even greater tragedy, Giovanni also died in a collision with a car in 1976 while riding a bike given to him as a first communion gift by Freddy Maertens, World Champion in 1976 and 1981.

Alexi Singh Grewal
Alexi Singh Grewal
Born in Aspen, USA on this day in 1960, Alexi Singh Grewal won the Mount Evans Hill Climb with a time of 1h57'36" in 1981 and the Cascade Classic in 1982, then became the first American rider to win the gold medal for the Men's Road Race in the Olympics in 1984. He won Mount Evans again the same year, this time recording a time of 1h47'51", and in 1990 set a new record time in the race at 1h46'29".

In 2008, VeloNews published an essay by Grewal in which he confessed to his own doping. "My prayer and heart is that if, and I still hope that that day comes, that my son desires to taste the “King of Sports” that he can do so knowing that somewhere along the line and in some fashion I came clean and was willing at least once to speak out and do something so that what I saw and experienced is not what he will," he said. Grewal is descended from Punjabi Sikh immigrants and his brothers Rishi and Ranjeet also enjoyed successful cycling careers with numerous victories in mountain bike races. In 2010, it was reported that he was in training and would make a comeback to competition at the Quiznoz Pro Challenge.

Jean Aerts
Born in Laken on this day in 1907, the Belgian sprinter Jean Aerts became World and National Amateur Road Race Champion in 1927, then turned professional in 1929 and went on to win the World Elite Road Race Championships in 1935 - the first man to have been World Champion as an amateur and a professional.

Aerts at the Tour de France, 1929
Like most sprinters Aerts performed poorly in hilly races, but he could do well in a stage race provided there were plenty of flat stages. He won Stages 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7 at the Volta a Catalunya and came second overall in 1929 and won Stage 6 at the Tour de France the following year; then won Paris-Brussels in 1931, Stage 1 at the Tour in 1932, Stages 2, 3, 5 and overall at the Tour of Belgium plus Stages 4, 15, 17, 19, 20 and 21 at the Tour de France in 1933 and Stages 4, 8, 10 and 19 at the Tour in 1935. In 1936 he became National Road Race Champion for a second time, then took the National Track Stayers Championship in 1941 and 1942 before retiring from competition in 1943.

Aerts' first team was Elvish-Fontan-Wolber, with whom he remained for one season. 1930 was spent riding for Fontan-Wolber and Alcyon-Dunlop; he would stay with Alcyon until 1940 when he raced as an individual.

Pete Chisman
Pete Chisman, born on this day in 1940, won the first race - a cyclo cross event at Durham, the city in which he was born - he ever entered, despite competing on a borrowed bike he'd never ridden before. In 1958 he won six races, then in 1960 he won thirteen; a year later he was selected for the Northern England team at the Tour of Britain (then known as the Milk Race after main sponsor the Milk Marketing Board) - he won Stages 1 and 7, was second on Stage 11a and finished in fourth place overall. He won no stages in 1962 but was second twice and third once, which earned him a place on the England team in 1963. That year, he won Stages 1 and 2 and finished in first place overall after leading the race throughout.

Chisman, like many British cyclists of his day, remained an amateur for far longer than most riders on the Continent, despite gaining more good results after his Milk Race victory. In 1965 he won Stage 4 at the Tour de l'Avenir, which finally brought him offers of contracts promising good money and he turned professional for Raleigh-BMB the following year and won numerous prestigious British races. In 1967 he went to the Tour de France, riding for the Great Britain team that included Barry Hoban (who was the most successful British rider in the history of the Tour until Mark Cavendish beat his stage win total and Bradley Wiggins won) and Tom Simpson, who died during the race that same year on Ventoux. Road racing had been taking place in Britain since the Second World War (having been banned by the National Cycling Union since the late 19th Century before that), but the British races were incomparable to those across the Channel; Chisman, like so many others to make the trip over, was completely overwhelmed by the much higher level of competition and, after finishing 123rd in Stage 1a and 122nd in Stage 1b, he abandoned. He was third at the first Simpson Memorial in 1968.

The Tour de l'Avenir is designed to reveal potential Grand Tour stars of the future; it seems highly likely, therefore, that Chisman could have developed and might even have enjoyed an illustrious career in Europe, perhaps even become a household name like Hoban and Simpson did. However, he never really took to professional cycling - for him, joy came from riding his bike rather than winning races and the ever-present need to perform well in professional cycling detracted from that. He retired from competition in 1971 and worked as a civil engineer, but continued riding almost every day until he died following prostate surgery in 2003.

Michael Shermer
Michael Shermer
Born in Altadena, California on this day in 1954, Michael Shermer left university armed with a BA in psychology/biology and an MA in experimental psychology in 1978, then took up competitive cycling. His race results were not especially impressive, but he had a lasting impact on the sport - he worked with Bell in 1979, assisting them in the development of the first modern cycling helmets (it's because of him that modern helmets loosely resemble the old-fashioned leather helmets rather than motorcycle helmets, which he said cyclists would dislike for their aesthetics and lack of air vents) and in 1982 with Spenco, the company that introduced the first saddles and cycling gloves fitted with gel inserts to reduce saddle sores and carpal tunnel syndrome. He was also part of the committee that founded and organised the first Race Across America in 1982 - he took part in the race that year and in 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1989, served as an assistant director for six years and as executive director for seven years.

In 1983, while climbing the Loveland Pass in Colorado and thinking about a nutritionist with a rather dubious PhD he'd been advised by for several months, Shermer reached a conclusion that what he terms "a host of weird things" had offered him no real benefits - among them were some truly bizarre alternative therapies including pyramidology, chiropractic, negative ion treatment and rolfing (a form of massage that claims to "organise the whole body in gravity"). He decided then and there that he would stop attempting to rationalise therapies and encourage others to think about them, rather than accept them without question, which, when he'd retired from competition, inspired him to found the Skeptics' Society in 1992. The Society has continued growing ever since and now publishes a quarterly magazine, available worldwide, and has more than 55,000 members including several well-known scientists from a variety of fields. Shermer has authored and published 17 books on science and scepticism and is a regular on television, frequently appearing in debates.

Italian cyclo cross rider Daniele Pontoni, born in Udine on this day in 1966, won the Amateur World CX Championships in 1992 and turned professional two years later. He then won the Elite National Championships eleven times consecutively, the Elite World Championships in 1997 (along with the National Cross Country Mountain Bike Championships) and twelve Superprestige races.

Ángel Colla, born in Argentina on this day in 1973, became National Road Race Champion in 2004.

Walter Generati
Walter Generati, born in Solara, Italy on this day in 1913, won Stage 11 and came sixth overall at the Giro d'Italia and won Stage 3 at the Tour de France in 1937, won Stage 4b and came sixth again at the Giro in 1938 and won Stage 7 and was seventh overall at the Giro in 1940.

Other cyclists born on this day: Jan Wijnants (Belgium, 1958); Albert Blattmann (Switzerland, 1904, died 1967); Nello Ciaccheri (Italy, 1893, died 1971); Frans van den Bosch (Belgium, 1934); Roberto García (El Salvador, 1937); Éva Izsák (Hungary, 1967); Koen de Kort (Netherlands, 1982); Frederik Willems (Belgium, 1979); Jetse Bol (Netherlands, 1989); Haile Micael Kedir (Ethiopia, 1944); George Estman (South Africa, 1922, died 2006); Steffen Blochwitz (East Germany, 1967); Hans Wolf (USA, 1940); Sergio Martínez (Cuba, 1943, died 1979); Phil Bateman (Great Britain, 1962); Rubén Etchebarne (Uruguay, 1936); Luis Manrique (Colombia, 1955); Loic Gautier (France, 1954); Guglielmo Bossi (Italy, 1901); Dirkie Binneman (South Africa, 1918, died 1959).

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