Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 05.11.2013

Tommy Godwin
Born in Connecticut on this day in 1920, Tommy Godwin moved to Britain when his British parents returned to their native country in 1932. Desiring extra pocket money, he found a job with a Birmingham grocery shop named Wrensons and was supplied with a heavy bike to carry out deliveries to customers. Other groceries had their own delivery boys, equipped with their own delivery bikes; it was, therefore, entirely natural that unofficial competition took place between them - and Tommy was the fastest (Godwin's namesake, the Tommy Godwin who was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1912, began cycling in very similar circumstances).

The 1936 Olympics - Arie van Vliet's gold-winning ride in the 1km time trial in particular - showed Godwin that he might be able to build on his natural talent and make some sort of career out of cycling. Three years later he started racing, then set the fastest time over 1km of the 1939 season at the Alexander Sports Ground which was in those days used by the Birchfield CC and is now known as the Perry Barr Stadium and used for speedway and greyhound racing. Immediately, he became "known" - and was invited to attend trials to find British cyclists for the 1940 Olympics.

Tommy's chances of winning a gold medal were ruined because his best years coincided with the Second World War - working as an electrician at BSA (as a reserved occupation, he was not called up to fight), he was able to enter only thirteen events in a three-year period from 1940-1942. However, from 1943 onwards as the Allies began to gain an upper hand, the British Government realised that far from being an unnecessary expense, sport was a highly effective way to improve public moral and encouraged it. More bike races were held; Godwin won the Cattlow Trophy that year, then successfully defended it in 1944 - and later in 1944, he won the 5-mile race at the National Championships. In 1945 he won it again and added the 25-mile (he also won the BSA Gold Column that year at the Herne Hill track, which is still used for cycling races to this day and is one of the oldest velodromes in the world), winning the latter event for a second time in 1946.

Finally, when the Games came to London in 1948, Godwin got his chance to compete at the Olympics and won two bronze medals; one in the 1km time trial and one in the Team Pursuit. It was widely considered that the British riders would have done far better in the Pursuit had it not have been for a row between coaches in the run-up to the Games, but Godwin and team mates Dave Ricketts, Robert Geldard and Wilfred Waters managed to turn things around after just scraping through in the qualifier, improving their time by 17" to win the medal - which gave them a faster time than was set by the gold-winning French team in the final round. Tommy's medal in the time trial is no less remarkable, because he was selected to compete in the race with only two days' notice and no training. Later in life, he would remember how differently Olympic athletes were treated in those days, even at a company such as BSA which, as a manufacturer of bikes, could have made profitable use of his success: "Somebody there said, 'Oh you won a medal,' and I said yes. He said, 'Well, the job we're doing today is so and so.' That was it," he recalled.

Godwin retained his links to cycling all his life and became manager of the British cycling team at the 1964 Olympics, where his efforts were to inspire future four-time World Pursuit Champion Hugh Porter. Later, he became British Cycling's first paid coach, and President of the organisation.

From 1950 until the middle of the 1980s, Godwin owned and ran a cycling shop; in 2010, when the Herne Hill track came close to closure after 119 years, he was instrumental in efforts to save it. That year, he was rediscovered by the British public after being interviewed as part of the BBC's "London 2012: Two Years To Go" television programme - instantly likable as he always was (and with his two Olympic medals to show to the cameras) he was at long last given the national hero status he had always deserved. In 2012, the year of the Games, he was chosen to be a torch bearer during the Relay, carrying it on a 300m stretch through Solihull on the 1st of July. Four months and two days later on the 3rd of November, he died at the age of 91.

Ben Swift
Ben Swift
Ben Swift, born in Rotherham on this day in 1987, won the Tour de Picardie in 2010 and was World Scratch Race Champion in 2012. Beginning his cycling career at the age of 12 with Mossley CRT in 1999, he immediately made a mark and, less than four years later, was second in the Scratch at the Under-16 National Championships. In 2004, he became Junior National Points race Champion, then Junior National Scratch race Champion a year later - when he also competed in the Elite Scratch and won bronze.

In 2007, Swift launched his professional road racing career with Barloworld, a now-defunct British-registered team backed by a South African brand management firm, showing potential as a climber by winning the King of the Mountains at that year's Tour of Britain. In 2008, he came fourth in the Under-23 World Road Race Championships, which attracted the attention of Katusha to whom he signed for 2009. Katusha realised that, despite his success at Barloworld, Swift was not going to be a climber (as was confirmed by low placings on the mountainous stages at that year's Giro d'Italia, but very good placings on flat and hilly stages in numerous races); instead, the team's coaches began to remodel his training regime to resemble that of an all-rounder.

Swift leading a sprint at the Tour de Romandie
In 2010, despite his contract with Katusha still being in force, he moved to the new British team Sky (the transfer, kept secret for some time, was revealed when the Wielerland cycling stats website obtained a photo of him training in Sky kit). Before long, Sky's coaches decided he wasn't cut out to be an all-rounder either - because he showed far too much potential as a sprinter. He won Stage 2 at the Tour de Picardie in a nine-man sprint, and won the Points jersey - also known as the sprinter's jersey - too (and the General Classification). In 2011, Swift won Stages 2 and 6, both bunch sprints (with some of the finest sprinters of all time, including Robbie McEwen and Mark Renshaw), and was fourth overall; he would also ride his first Tour de France that year and finished Stage 15 in sixth place (the stage was won by Mark Cavendish, who would also ride for Sky in 2012).

In 2012, Swift became the first ever British World Scratch race Champion and won silver in the Points and Madison. He was fourth at the National Road Race Championships, won two stages and the Points classification at the Tour of Poland and finished Stage 2 in third, Stage 18 in second and four others in the top ten at the Vuelta a Espana. In 2013, he won bronze at the National Individual Time Trial Championship - not bad for a rider who once said ""My weakness is in the time trial - I don't like doing them and I'm not really that good at them," but perhaps not so surprising for one seems to have what it takes to do well in any discipline.

Matthew Harley Goss
Goss at the 2013 People's Choice Classic
Born in Launceston, Tasmania on this day in 1986, Matthew Goss is another highly successful young sprinter. Like Swift, Goss first made his name on the international cycling stage with his results on the track, but he had already had a taste for road racing success as far back as 2002 when he won the Novices race at the Australian National Club Championships. A year later he proved himself to be one of the country's up-and-coming track stars with second place in the Junior Scratch race at the National Championships; in 2004 he won Junior Madison (with Miles Olman) and the Junior Team Pursuit (with Olman, Simon Clark and Michael Ford) at the World Championships, and the Points race and Road Race at the Commonwealth Youth Championships, adding the Launceston International Classic road race later in the season. In 2005, his final year as an amateur and now taking part at Elite level, he rode with Nathan Clarke, Stephen Rossendell and Mark Jamieson to win the Team Pursuit at the National Championships, also taking silver in the Points race at the same event.

2005 saw Goss start to concentrate on road for the first time since the early days of his career and brought him victory in Stage 1 at the Tour of Japan, followed by two further wins at the Australian Ulverstone and Devonport criterium races. He would enjoy more success in 2006, winning the Under-23 GP Liberazione and a stage at the U-23 GP delle Regione, two stages at the Vuelta Ciclista a Navarra and, most notably, Stage 3 at the Baby Giro, which brought him his first professional road racing contract with Team CSC for 2007. Having spent most of the season adjusting to the top level of the sport (but still grabbing some impressive second places along the way), he won Stage 3 at the Tour of Britain.

Goss remained with CSC - by then called CSC-SaxoBank - through 2008 and then 2009, when it became SaxoBank. He won Stage 2 at the Tour of Britain, the Herald Sun Classic and Stage 1 at the Herald Sun Tour in 2008, then came third at Gent-Wevelgem in 2009 before going on to ride his first Grand Tour - the Giro d'Italia, where he was fifth on Stage 6, seventh on Stage 7 and fourth on Stage 9; he would also win Stages 3 and 5 at the Tour de la Région Wallonne and was first at Paris-Brussels. In 2010 he moved to HTC-Columbia, a team with a well-deserved reputation for turning promising youngsters into world-beaters, and during his two seasons with them he won Stage 9 at the Giro d'Italia and the GP Ouest France (2009) and Stages 1, 4 and the General Classification at the Bay Classic, Stage 1 and the overall Points classification (plus second in the General Classification) at the Tour Down Under, Stage 2 at the Tour of Oman, Stage 3 at Paris-Nice, first place at Milan-San Remo, Stage 8 at the Tour of California, second place on Stage 6 at the Tour de France and then second again at the World Road Race Championships just behind the man who has been named the greatest sprinter of all time, Mark Cavendish.

At the 2009 Eneco Tour
Like a large percentage of Australia's finest cyclists, Goss signed to the new GreenEdge-AIS team for 2012. With them, he won Stage 3 at the Giro d'Italia and was second on Stage 5, then sixth on Stage 13 - after which he withdrew from the race in order to be able to concentrate on the Tour de France, where he came third on Stages 2, 6 and 20 and second on Stages 5 and 18 at the Tour de France (and was fourth on Stage 4), earning third place in the Points competition with 268 - it was notable that second-placed André Greipel had picked up only 12 more points, and that Goss would have been second had he not have been docked 30 points for dangerous riding that nearly took down green jersey winner Peter Sagan during Stage 12.

GreenEdge became Orica-AIS for 2013. Goss remained onboard and won Stage 2 at Tirreno-Adriatico, but with the exception of his shared victory in the Stage 4 Team Time Trial at the Tour de France, his season was otherwise without victory. Nevertheless, numerous podium places including at the Tour Down Under and the Giro d'Italia show that he is still a very worthy adversary in a sprint finish.

Maarten Tjallingii
Maarten Tjallingii is a Dutch rider with one of the most unusual names in professional cycling (somewhat disappointingly, it's pronounced exactly as spelled - Tcha-ling-gee). Born in Leeuwarden on this day in 1977, Tjallingii started his cycling career as a mountain biker and came third at the prestigious Groesbeek race in 1998, then began to make inroads into road racing.

Maarten Tjallingii
He showed promise in his amateur days with third place overall and a stage win at the 2001 Tour du Faso, which he would win outright two years later after winning Stage 1 and taking second on Stages 3, 7 and 11. In 2006, with Skil-Shimano, he won Stage 1 and overall at the Ronde van België, then Stage 7 and overall at the Tour of Qinghai Lake, and in 2007 he was second overall at the Ronde van België. Then, for no obvious reason and as they sometimes do for professional cyclists who had previously seemed destined for the top, the wins stopped coming: he did not enjoy another victory until 2012 - though third place in the 2011 Paris-Roubaix, the most brutal race in cycling, was an impressive achievement and showed why it was that Rabobank had continued to pay his wages since he signed to them for 2009.

His 2012 victory was the Profronde van Almelo, but might not have been his only success that year - fifth at the National Individual Time Trial Championship and 22nd place on Stage 2 at the Tour de France suggest he had good form; however, following a crash in Stage 3 - after which he rode 40km to the end of the stage, left him with a broken hip and he did not start the next day. It was followed in 2013 by another respectable finish - 18th place - at Paris-Roubaix and then victory at the World Ports Classic. Rabobank, following the exposure of Lance Armstrong as a drugs cheat, declared that it no longer wished to be associated with Elite cycling (after some consideration - and a little persuasion from the world's most successful cyclist Marianne Vos, who it definitely did want to continue sponsoring - it decided it would continue to support women's Elite cycling) and the former Rabobank became Blanco temporarily, until new sponsor Belkin took over. Tjallingii, who is now 36 years old, will continue with them in 2014. He is one of a very small number of vegetarian professional cyclists.

Koos Moerenhout
Jacobus "Koos" Moerenhout, who was born in Achthuizen, Netherlands on this day in 1973, began his cycling career as a trainee with the US-based Motorola team in 1994 having won a handful of amateur victories including, in 1994 prior to signing his trainee contract, overall at the Tour de la Province de Liège and Stage 1 at the Tour of Austria.

In 1996, Moerenhout moved up a level to Rabobank's Elite squad and won the Circuit Franco-Belge; then in 1997 he won Stage 8 at the Rheinland Pfalz Rundfahrt. In 1998 he was entered for the first time in the Tour de France and, while he finished better than top thirty on just one stage - sixth, Stage 13 - finished in 44th overall, a very respectable place for a rider making his Grand Tour debut and one that makes it something or a surprise that he remained a domestique for his entire career, these being the results of a man who might have had the potential to finish a Grand Tour in the top ten. In 1999 he won Stage 4 at the Tour of the Basque Country before departing Rabobank for Farm Frites, with whom he would remain through its various incarnations en route to becoming Davitamon-Lotto in 2005. Early in 2000 he won Stage 1 at the Tour Down Under, then raced the Giro d'Italia (abandoned) and Tour de France (77th overall), winning a silver medal at the National Road Race Championships in between.

Moerenhout didn't have a good year in 2001, but finished the Vuelta a Espana in 72nd place in 2002. In 2003, he rode the Giro and the Tour again, finishing the former in 53rd place and the latter in 128th. He score more podium places at the Tours of Qatar and Austria early in 2004, then came second again in the National Championships before taking 100th place overall at the Tour de France. In 2005, when he concentrated largely on the Vuelta, he showed some of that same potential he'd showed in his first Tour de France with his best ever Grand Tour result, 12th overall. A year later, riding for Phonak, he was 62nd at the Tour, then in 2007 he returned to Rabobank and came 70th at the Giro and 42nd at the Vuelta - but won the National Championships in between.

He would remain with Rabobank for the rest of his career, riding three more Grand Tours: the Tour de France in 2008, where he was 34th overall and came closer to a stage win than ever before with fourth place on Stage 11; the Vuelta in 2009 (the same year he won the road race at the National Championships again, and was second in the Individual Time Trial) and, finally, his seventh Tour de France in 2010, where he finished Stage 19 in sixth place and came 52nd overall.

Moerenhout maintained close links to cycling and to Rabobank after retiring, serving as one of the team's managers. He is married to Edith Klep, who was also a professional cyclist and took second place at the Sparkassen Giro in 2001.

Giuseppe Ogna, who was born on this day in 1933 at Sant'Eufemia della Fonte in Italy, rode for Bianchi from 1957 to 1961 and then for Ignis from 1962 to 1968. He was Amateur National Sprint Champion in 1954, Amateur World Champion in the same discipline in 1955 and then became Elite National Sprint Champion in 1958. Ogna also rode in Tandem events and was Amateur National Champion (with Celestino Oriani) in 1954, then rode with Cesare Pinarello at the 1956 Olympics and won a bronze medal.

Claudio Iannone, born in Argentina on this day in 1963, became National Road Race Champion in 1990.

Cyclists born on this day: Martin Mortensen (Denmark, 1984); George Artin (Iraq, 1941); Paula Gorycka (Poland, 1990); Bruno Pellizzari (Italy, 1907, died 1991); Marcos Mazzaron (Brazil, 1963); Bob Broadbent (Australia, 1904, died 1986); Spyros Agrotis (Cyprus, 1961); Liu Xin (China, 1986); Lyndelle Higginson (Australia, 1978); Richard Pascal (Cayman Islands, 1967 - not to be confused with French rider Pascal Richard); Geoffrey Burnside (Bahamas, 1950).

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