Johan van der Velde
Born in Rijsbergen, Netherlands on this day in 1956, Johan van der Velde was twice National Road Race Champion, three times winner of the Points classification at the Giro d'Italia and won a Youth Classification and three stages in the Tour de France - results that suggest he may have had the potential to be one of the all-time greats had be not succumbed to addicitions for amphetamines, gambling and petty theft, his lowest moment coming when he was found guilty of breaking into post office vending machines to steal the stamps in order to raise the funds he needed to feed his addiction.
|Van de Velde|
(image from: Cycling Art Blog)
Van der Velde's most famous cycling moment came in 1983 when he misjudged a bend on the way down from the Col de le Madeleine and plunged over the edge. Spectators and Tour officials tentatively looked down, expecting to see a mangled corpse if anything at all - but for once in his life, fortune had been on his side. He'd landed on a ledge just a few metres down and escaped with just minor cuts and bruises. Nowadays, van der Velde has become a common sight at junior races, in which his son competes.
Happy birthday to Mathieu Ladagnous who was born in 1984 in Melbourne. The FDJ.fr rider (he's been with them since they were La Française des Jeux, right back in 2006), who also rides in track events, won Stage 1 at the Tour de Wallonie in 2011. 2012 was a good year for him; he was eighth in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, seventh in the E3 Harelbeke, 12th at Paris-Roubaix and finished in the top 20 on two stages at the Tour de France, while his fifth place at the infamously difficult Ronde van Vlaanderen in 2013 suggests he may have a good career as a Classics rider ahead of him.
Today would have been the birthday of British-born Paul Medhurst, co-winner of a bronze medal for New Zealand in the tandem sprint event at the 1974 Commonwealth Games. Born in Scunthorpe, Great Britain on this day in 1953, he died in Belgium on the 26th of September, 2009.
Other cyclists born on this day: Ferenc Keserű (Hungary, 1946); José Errandonea (Spain, 1940); Greg Randolph (USA, 1972); Grete Treier (Estonia, 1977); Frank Williams (Sierra Leone, 1964); Pasi Mbenza (Congo, 1966); Peter Glemser (Germany, 1940); Toshimitsu Teshima (Japan, 1942); Christian Meyer (Germany, 1969); Anita Valen (Norway, 1968); Bengt Fröbom (Sweden, 1926); Ayele Mekonnen (Ethiopia, 1957); Ingus Veips(Latvia, 1969); Kurt Schein (Austria, 1930).