(image credit: Eric Houdas CC BY-SA 3.0)
Charly Mottet was born in Valence, France on this day in 1962 and rode professionally from 1983 to 1994 - a period during which he earned widespread acclaim as one of the strongest French riders in the post-Hinault era with some 67 race victories. He never won a Tour de France but twice came fourth (1987 and 1991), also coming sixth in 1989 and winning Stage 15 in 1990 followed by 11 and 12 in 1991. He won Stages 9 and 11 at the 1986 Vuelta a Espana, but his best Grand Tour results came from the Giro d'Italia - he won the Youth Classification in 1984 and Stage 16 in 1990 when he was second overall in the General Classification.
Mottet's other successes - which include the Tour de l'Avenir in 1986, the Tour du Limousin in 1987 and 1993, the Tour de Romandie in 1990 and three editions of the Critérium du Dauphiné (1987, 1989 and 1992) suggest that the rider could have won a Grand Tour, perhaps even the Tour. However, as he was becoming known among fans for his successes, he was also becoming known among riders for what seemed a strange eccentricity at the time - his steadfast refusal to resort to any form of doping or performance-enhancing drugs whatsoever. When we bear in mind that he was racing at a time when the vast majority of riders would swallow or inject anything their soigneurs suggested without even momentary consideration for what they might be doing to themselves, Mottet's refusal to do so - and continued success against riders who were quite literally doped up to the eyeballs - is both remarkable and evidence of a truly great, heroically strong rider.
|Cartoon from the New York World|
report on Aaronson's crash
On this day in 1900, Swedish Oscar Aaronson (also spelled Aronson) was involved in a crash at the Madison Square Garden Six Day Race in New York. He died six days later (contemporary report) from a combination of his injuries, exhaustion and pneumonia - before his death, other riders expressed concern that the crash "might prove fatal to six-day racing itself."
Tommaso de Pra, who was born in Mortara, Italy on this day in 1938, won Stage 10 and wore the yellow jersey for one day in the 1966 Tour de France. He also won Stage 6 at the 1966 Tour de Suisse and Stage 3a at the 1968 Vuelta a Espana.
Cesare Cippolini, older brother of Mario and himself a retired a professional cyclist, was born on this day in 1958.
Jo Planckaert, winner of stages at the Tour de Wallonie, Tour du Limousin, Vuelta a Andalucia and the Tour of Swede, was born on this day in Deinze, Belgium in 1970. He is the son of Willy Planckaert, the winner of the Points Competition at the 1966 Tour de France. His best result was second place at the 1997 Paris-Roubaix.
Joseph Gottschalk, born in Dallas on this day in 1950, attended a Catholic seminary during his youth and was remarkable only in that he was "nerdy, even by seminary standards" according to those who knew him. However, he revealed himself as possessing a very fine backbone indeed when he refused point-blank to do anything to assist the war effort after he was drafted to fight in Vietnam, spending lengthy periods in tough military prisons yet never giving up his pacifist beliefs.
In 1976, he got married and settled down, vanishing from the public eye and raising four children. He divorced in 2000 and spent the next three years living as quietly as he had done during his marriage. Then, in 2003, he decided that he wanted to encourage people to appreciate the human form and personal liberty - which he expressed by riding his bike around San Antonio dressed only in a thong. He quickly came to attention of local news programmes glad for an amusing "And finally..." story that was subsequently covered by the Associated Press service, bringing him to international fame as Thong Man. On the 17th of June that year, he dropped the thong in favour of a "tan bag" - covering only his genitals - which proved too much for the police to tolerate and he was arrested and charged for indecent exposure. Gottschalk argued that the charge was "morality based on appearance" and became a hero for some (though the majority of the public in conservative San Antonio were outraged by his behavior). Four days later, his naked corpse was discovered lying at the bottom of a 30m cliff in Big Bend National Park. Police ruled the death a suicide, but many of his supporters and fans believe that he was murdered by persons unknown.
Other cyclists born on this day: Anna Baylis (Australia, 1976); Kristel Werckx (Belgium, 1969); Roberto Heredero (Cuba, 1950); Alberto Rodríguez (Uruguay, 1947); Michaela Brunngraber (Austria, 1964); Antonio Urquijo (Chile, 1960); Yousef Shadi (Libya, 1969); Cesare Cipollini (Italy, 1958); Robin Reid (New Zealand, 1975); Edgardo Simón (Argentina, 1974); Norbert Verougstraete (Belgium, 1934); Sean Bloch (South Africa, 1973).