(image credit: Nicola CC BY-SA 3.0)
New Zealander Alison Shanks was born in Dunedin on this day in 1982. Having had a successful career in netball (she played for the now-defunct Otago Rebels, the first team to win the Coca Cola cup), Shnaks took up cycling in 2005, her final year at university, and just a year later was competing in the Commonwealth Games where she came 4th in the Pursuit.
Shanks won her first gold medal at the Beijing round of the World Cup Classics in 2009 when she recorded a time of 3'30.685" in the Individual Pursuit. At the same event she rode in the Team Pursuit with Lauren Ellis and Katie Boyd, winning another gold with a time of 3'24.421", the second fastest ever recorded. She beat Wendy Houvenaghel to become World Individual Pursuit Champion at the World Championships in 2009 and 2012 she beat Wendy Houvenaghel to win another gold, doing the same at the Commonwealth Games of 2010. She became World Pursuit Champion in 2012.
In addition to her track successes, Shanks has enjoyed a remarkable career in road racing - she was in 2006, then National Individual Time Trial Champion and National Road Race Champion in 2007.
Jeng Kirchen, born in Luxembourg on this day in 1919, rode the Tour de France several times in the years immediately after the Second World War. In 1947 he was 18th overall, in 1948 fifth, in 1949 13th and in 1950 fifth again. He was also National Road Race Champion in 1946 and 1951, National Cyclo Cross Champion in 1948 and 1952 and won the Tour of Luxembourg in 1952. He died on the 30th of November in 2010, aged 90.
Lithuanian Simona Krupeckaitė, the track cyclist who became 500m World Champion in 2007 and set a new world record in the process, was born in Utena on this day in 1982. In 2012, Krupeckaitė took second place in the Sprint at the World Championships.
Roger Ilegems, track and road cyclist and a gold medal winner at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles (points race), was born in Niel, Belgium on this day in 1962.
Alexis Michiels was born on this day (some sources say 19.12) in Brussels, 1883. He entered the 1919 Tour de France but abandoned in Stage 2.
Danish ex-professional track cyclist Hans-Henrik Ørsted was born on this day in 1954 in Grenå.
Zbigniew Spruch, born on this day in the Polish town Kożuchów, won the 1995 Tour of Poland and finished the 1999 Gent-Wevelgem in 2nd place.
Peter Luttenberger, born in Bad Radkersburg, Austria on this day in 1972, won Stage 7 and the overall General Classification at the 1996 Tour de Suisse; then followed it up with 5th overall at the Tour de France that same year, thus immediately raising hopes among Austrian cycling fans that their nation would have its first Tour winner within a year or two (Max Bulla, born in Vienna, had won in the Independents Classification in 1931 as well as winning three stages and leading the race for a day - the only time in the history of the race that a non-professional touriste-routier rider did so). He never quite managed to do so well again, unfortunately - he was 13th in 1997, 21st in 2000 and 13th again in 2003.
Mikel Landa, born in the Basque Country on this day in 1989, has been riding for Spanish and Basque teams since 2008. In 2011 he joined Euskaltel-Euskadi and remained with them until the team's demise at the close of the 2013 season, a period during which he has improved constantly - that year, he finished sixth at the Vuelta a Burgos, managed a ninth place stage finish at the Vuelta a Espana and took 21st at the Giro di Lombardia, earning himself a place with Astana for 2014.
On this day in 2011, Jakob Fuglsang announced that a new team being put together by Brian Nygaard in Luxembourg was going to be known as Team Leopard. It was to be built around Andy Schleck, who had revealed himself as a likely Tour de France winner, and would include his brother Frank, Jakob himself, Stuart O'Grady, Fabian Cancellara and Jens Voigt (all previously of Saxo Bank) - some of the most popular riders of their generation (and the previous, in the case of Voigt), which meant that they enjoyed enormous exposure right from the start. Shortly after the announcement, Trek Bicycles came in as a full sponsor and the team became Leopard Trek.
(image credit: Thomas Ducroquet CC BY-SA 3.0)
Other cyclists born on this day: Abe Jonker (South Africa, 1933, died 1991); István Schillerwein (Hungary, 1933); David Humphreys (Australia, 1936); Yasuhiro Ando (Japan, 1969).
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