Saturday 5 October 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 05.10.2013

Rui Costa
Born in Póvoa de Varzim, Portugal on this day in 1986, Rui Alberto Faria da Costa turned professional with the Benfica team in 2007 after achieving good results in the Volta ao Portugal do Futuro in 2005 and 2006, and won the Giro delle Regione and Volta a Madeira that year. He stayed with them in 2008 and came second at the Tour de l'Avenir, then went to Caisse d'Epargne where he has remained ever since (the team is now known as Movistar).

In 2009 he won the Four Days of Dunkirk and the GP Credito Agricola and was second at the National Road Race Championships, then in 2010 he became National Individual Time Trial Champion and rode his first Tour de France. He was 73rd, but later came fourth in the Gala Tour de France - a Luxembourgian event and criterium that celebrates the Tour (and was not held in 2012 after 2011 winner Frank Schleck failed a dope test). In 2011 he won the Vuelta Ciclista a la Comunidad de Madrid and later Stage 8 at the Tour as the only remaining rider from a breakaway that had led the race for almost the entire stage, just beating Philippe Gilbert and eventual overall winner Cadel Evans to the line. The following year he won the Tour de Suisse; his best Tour de France result was 14th on Stage 9 and he was 19th overall.

Costa was third overall at the Tour de Romandie in 2013, then won the Tour de Suisse for a second time following a long battle with BMC's Matthias Frank, who held the race leader's jersey and a 13" advantage at the start of the final stage, an individual time trial. In that stage, Costa won enough time to finish the race with an advantage of 1'02"; Frank dropped to fifth place, 1'43" behind. Five days later, Costa won the Portuguese Individual Time Trial Championship, then went to the Tour de France where he won Stages 16 and 19, neither of which were time trials and came 27th in the overall General Classification. The Gala Tour de France was back on that year; this time, Costa won.

In 2013, one week before his 27th birthday, Costa became the first ever Portuguese World Road Race Champion. He will race for Lampre-Merida in 2014.

Born in Maastricht on this day in 1948, Joseph Bruyère turned professional with Faemino-Faema in 1970 and rode as a domestique for Eddy Merckx. He won Stage 19 at the 1972 Tour de France, the Omloop Het Volk in 1974, the Omloop Het Volk and the Tour Méditerranéen in 1975, Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 1976 and 1978 and a third Omloop Het Volk in 1980. He held the maillot jaune for four days in the 1974 Tour de France, then for eight days in 1978 when he was fourth overall.

Born in Mulazzo, Italy on this day in 1924, Nello Lauredi won the Critérium du Dauphiné in 1950, 1951 and 1954 - he was also second overall at Paris-Nice in 1954. He achieved good results in the Tour de France, winning Stage 7 in 1950 then Stage 3 and wearing the maillot jaune for four days in 1952, Stage 13 and eighth place overall in 1953 and seventh place overall in 1957. Despite his Italian birth, Lauredi raced for France; he officially took French nationality in 1984.

Carl Otto Schutte, born in Kansas City, USA on this day in 1887, competed at the 1912 Olympics where he won bronze medals in the Individual Time Trial and the Team Road Race.

Other cyclists born on this day: Jesús Zárate (Mexico, 1974); Wim Omloop (Belgium, 1971); Laurent Tessier (Canada, 1928); Iraj Amir-Akhori (Iran, 1962); Mohamed Al-Takroni (Saudi Arabia, 1967); Erkki Koskinen (Finland, 1925); Hilde Dobiasch (Austria, 1954); Mário Silva (Portugal, 1940); Alex Ongaro (Canada, 1963); Javier Carbayeda (Spain, 1966); Olaf Holmstrup (Denmark, 1930); Marek Kulesza (Poland, 1959); Daniele Ratto (Italy, 1989); Cesare Pinarello (Italy, 1932).

Friday 4 October 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 04.10.2013

Emma Davies
Born in Knutsford, Great Britain on this day in 1978, Emma Davies joined the Manchester Wheelers CC when she was twelve and crashed during her very first ride with them - she made the other team members promise not to tell her mum and dad in case they thought cycling was too dangerous and forbade her from continuing. Fortunately, they didn't find out - and having decided to make the switch to track cycling, she won a bronze medal in the Pursuit at the 1998 National Track Championships. The following year she won silver for the Pursuit, again at the Nationals, and was fifth in the same event at the European Under-23 Championships; then repeated her placing at the Nationals in 2000 before taking gold in 2001. She then won it again in 2002, 2003 and 2004, adding the Points race too in the last two years.

In September 2005, Davies married; just a month later she was seriously injured in a hit-and-run incident near Manchester Velodrome. She was left in agony with a compressed vertebral stress fracture, but got off relatively lightly - a shard of bone had splintered off and lodged 2mm from her spinal chord; had it have gone only slightly further, it could have cut through the chord and left her permanently paralysed. For months after leaving hospital, she couldn't walk more than half a kilometre without fainting from the pain. Yet, with a large amount of physiotherapy, she was able to make a full recovery - and in March 2006 she won a bronze medal in the Pursuit at the Commonwealth Games, then two criterium road races in Belgium.

Stan Brittain
Maurice Boeck and Stan Brittain
Arthur Stanley Brittain, who was born in Knotty Ash, Liverpool on this day in 1931, joined the Woolton Wheelers whilst still a teenager and, dressed in plimsolls, badly-fitting shorts and an oversized shirt, won the first race he entered. In 1952 he was called up to the Army to complete his mandatory military service and found a sort of fame as the nephew of the Regimental Sergeant Major said to have the loudest voice on any drill ground in the country, then found more when he was placed in a cycling team alongside Brian Robinson - who in 1955, with Tony Hoar, would become one of the first British riders to complete the Tour de France (but not the first to take part - that had been Charles Holland and Bill Burl in 1937).

Brittain's Army cycling career was not especially successful: he was one of 58 riders to abandon an Irish stage race due to bad weather in 1953 and crashed out of the World Road Race Championships in 1954, where he rode in a team that included Ray Booty who would become the first man to complete a 100-mile time trial in under four hours two years later. However, from 1955 he seemed to enter his best years (or was no longer pursuing a course of studied incompetence, a technique commonly used by those forced to join the armed services against their will) and performed very well at the Peace Race, finishing Stage 1 in second place and taking the race lead in Stage 2, then retaining the lead until Stage 7 when it went to Gustav-Adolf Schur, later the winner of several National Championship titles in his native East Germany and father to professional cyclists Jan and Gus-Erik. Brittain came third overall, with Schur first and a multiple Czech national champion named Jan Veselý taking second; he rode the Peace Race again the following year but abandoned at the start of Stage 6 and also took part in the Olympics where he won a silver medal in the Team Road Race, then in 1957 he won Stages 2 and 9 at the Peace Race and was second overall behind Bulgarian Nentcho Christov.

In 1958, the Tour de France invited Great Britain to enter a team. Unfortunately, it was unable to field a sufficient number of riders capable of taking part; instead Brittain, Robinson and Ron Coe were joined by Seamus Elliott (Ireland's first Grand Tour stage winner and, in 1962, very nearly the World Champion) and a selection of riders from Denmark, Austria and Portugal to make up a primarily British international team. Robinson won Stage 7 and thus became not only one of the first British men to complete a Tour but also the first to win a stage. Brittain finished in 66th place but was under no illusion that he ever stood a chance of winning anything: "The Tour is a race and a half. It was then and is now. It is the class of riders who make the race and the country you go through: the Alps and the Pyrenees - the toughest in the world - which makes it a bike race. I wasn't involved in the racing. That was up front with the big-hitters. Just to get through the Alps and the Pyrenees was something. I had lost my climbing ability, but even in my best climbing years I was never going to climb those mountains, some 12 miles long. I was six-foot something and with a racing weight of 12 stones four, which made it difficult to take over the hills and the mountains," he later told Cycling magazine.

During 1958 Brittain rode for the French Helyett-Potin-Hutchinson team (though not at the Tour, it being the period during which the race was competed by national teams rather than trade teams), also home to Elliott, André Darrigade and Jacques Anquetil; after the Tour he left for the British team Viking Cycles. He couldn't enter the Tour in 1959 due to a broken wrist, then went to Belgium after realising how much money he could make racing there and his form and confidence improved, leaving him feeling that he had the chance to do well when he returned to cycling's most important event in 1960 - but then he fell ill and, having been unable to eat for two days, abandoned in Stage 9. He was again unable to finish the race in 1961.

Cécile Odin, born in Blaye, France on this day in 1965, came third at the Tour de France Féminin in 1985 and 1994, also winning Stage 6 in the latter year. She also won the Tour de Bretagne in 1987, the Tour de l'Aude in 1989, the GP de France in 1990 and was third at the National Individual Time Trial Championships in 1995.

Other cyclists born on this day: Bernard Esterhuizen (South Africa, 1992); Richárd Bicskey (Hungary, 1936); Rainer Podlesch (West Germany, 1944); Christopher Church (Great Britain, 1940, died 2001); Nedyu Rachev (Bulgaria, 1915); Harumitsu Okada (Japan, 1960); Alexius Ekström (Sweden, 1883, died 1958).

Thursday 3 October 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 03.10.2013

Emma Pooley
Emma Pooley - the greatest British rider
of her generation?
Britain has, after decades in which it was thought to be among the third-rate cycling nations, produced a series of world-class riders including World Champions, Tour de France champions (four, not two; as explained below) and a man considered by many to be the greatest sprinter in the history of the sport - but it's not known for climbers, having produced only two world-class examples. One of those was Robert Millar, the other is Emma Pooley.

Born in London on this day in 1982, Emma Pooley grew up in Norwich, Norfolk, where she competed in cross-country running. In 2001 she gained a place at the University of Cambridge where she studyied engineering at Trinity Hall and won a Blue for cross-country and triathlon. She had no interest in cycling until an injury prevented her from running and she got a bike to maintain her fitness; almost immediately, she excelled at it and in 2005 she came fourth at the National Road Race Championship. Shortly afterwards she signed up to Fat Birds UK, managed by Stef Wyman - one of the most respected and foresighted directeurs sportif in women's cycling with an ability to spot new talent, help them develop and send them out to take on the world in a sport he loves.

Pooley left Fat Birds for Specialized Designs for Women in 2007 and remained with them for two years, during which time she began to enjoy her first notable successes - she won two criterium races early in the season, then took part in the Tour de France Féminin and came second on Stage 1, third on Stage 5 and was third overall behind Nicole Cooke and Priska Doppmann; later in the season she won Stage 1 at the Thüringen-Rundfahrt and was second on Stage 2 at the Tour de l'Ardèche. 2008 was her breakthrough year: she won four races early in the year before taking her first General Classification victory at the Tour de Bretagne (where she won Stages 3 and 4a), then won Stage 4 at the Tour de l'Ardèche. She also competed at the Olympics that year, where she was second in the Individual Time Trial, and at the National and World Championships - she was second in the Nationals Road Race (again losing out to Nicole Cooke) and eighth in the ITT at the Worlds.

In 2009, Pooley began a three-year stint with the Cervélo Test Team Women, then based in Germany - it would relocate to the Netherlands the following year, then to Great Britain in 2011. During her first year with them, when it became apparent that she is perhaps the finest climber in the contemporary women's peloton, she won the Tour de France Féminin (she was not, however, the first British rider to win a Tour de France - Nicole Cooke won in 2006 and 2007 - but they both beat Bradley Wiggins to the title of Tour Champion), the GP Ouest-France and became National ITT Champion. 2010 started in spectacular style with victories at La Flèche Wallonne (where she beat Cooke into second place), the GP Suisse and the GP Elsy Jacobs; later she won Stage 7, the Mountains classification and the General Classification at the Tour de l'Aude, came second on two stages and was fifth overall at the Giro Donne, won the National Road Race and ITT Championship titles, another GP Ouest-France and the World ITT Championship. In 2011, following an epic (but, perhaps, unwinnable) battle with Marianne Vos in the mountains, she was second in the General Classification at the Giro Donne, where she won Stage 8; she would win Stage 3 and overall at the Tour de l'Ardèche, adding these to several victories early in the season and a bronze medal from the World ITT Championships.

Pooley at the Olympics, 2012
The end of the 2011 season brought bad news when one of Garmin-Cervelo's main sponsors withdrew funding from the women's team, forcing manager Jonathan Vaughters to release all the riders with very little time left until the end of the transfer period. Fortunately, all of them were able to find new homes with Pooley - like most of the rest of the team - being rapidly snapped up by legendary Dutch team AA, whom she repaid with victory at the Berner Rundfahrt and the Emakumeen Saria, then second place at the Giro Donne (there have been many riders able to perform well in a time trial, as Pooley can, but most climbers find the bike's tendency to skip around under their small frames alarming so that they slow down and heavier riders can catch them. Pooley can descend with the best of them, which is why she was the only rider able to keep within four minutes of winner Marianne Vos - third place Evelyn Stevens was more than six and half minutes down at the end of the race) and another General Classification at the Tour de l'Ardèche. Unfortunately, 2012 would also end on a sad note when owner/managers Leontien van Moorsel and her husband Michael Zijlaard announced that following the withdrawal of sponsor AA Drink they would be dissolving the team, following several years at the top of women's cycling. This time, the riders received plenty of warning in advance, with Pooley going to Bigla. However, she was initially uncertain of her plans for the 2013 season, stating that racing left her with insufficient time to complete her PhD in geotechnical engineering; she considered taking a year out of competition (which, she said, she was also considering out of anger at the UCI's apparent lack of interest in developing women's cycling). Instead, she opted for a reduced calendar, but still managed six prestigious victories including the General Classification at the Tour Languedoc Roussillon. In September she was named as a prospective member of the British team going to the World Championships, but turned down the place in order to concentrate on her studies.

Millar became a household name in Britain in the 1980s. Pooley is virtually unknown outside the cycling world despite being more successful than he ever was, one of Britain's most successful athletes of all time and, as a highly intelligent woman, being as perfect a role model for girls and young women as could ever be wished for.

Alex Dowsett
Dowsett at the 2011 Tour of Britain
Born in Maldon, Great Britain on this day in 1988, Alex Dowsett was National Individual Time Trial Champion in 2011 and 2012. Earlier in his career he won numerous national titles as a Junior and Under-23 as well as the U-23 Chrono des Nations in 2010, then signed to Sky as a neo-pro for 2011 and won the London Nocturne and Stage 8a at the Tour of Britain.

He was tipped to do well at the Spring Classics the following season, but a crash at the Driedaagse van De Panne left him with a broken elbow and put him out of action for several months. He returned in June to take a silver medal at the National Road Race Championships, then won the National Individual Time Trial Championships in September before coming eighth at the World ITT Championships a little over two weeks later.

Dowsett announced late in 2012 that he would be leaving Sky to go to Movistar, stating that the main reason behind his decision to do so was that the Basque team would offer him a place at one of the Grand Tours. The team's management selected him for the Giro d'Italia, and he repaid them by helping the squad take second place in the Stage 2 team time trial where they finished second behind Sky; he then extracted revenge in Stage 8, the individual time trial, when he beat Sky's leader Bradley Wiggins into second place by ten seconds.

Later in the summer, Dowsett was second to Thomas Scully at the London Nocturne. He then won the National ITT Championship for the third time, beating Matthew Bottril by 20". Still not of the age at which most cyclists reach a performance peak, Dowsett seems to have a glittering career riding against the clock ahead of him - some fans have gone as far as to compare him to Monsieur Chrono himself, the great Jacques Anquetil.

Maria Luisa Calle, born in Medellín, Colombia on this day in 1964, was National Road Race Champion in 1999 and National Individual Time Trial Champion in 2002. In 2004 she was third in the Points race at the Olympics but was forced to give back her bronze medal when she tested positive for the banned amino acid heptaminol. However, Calle argued that she had not knowingly ingested the substance in question and appealed to the Court of Arbitration in Sport, where she claimed that it might have come from an anti-migraine remedy she had used shortly before the race. The remedy, Neo-Saldina, was found not to contain heptaminol, but it did contain isometheptene - which, laboratory tests had shown, could metabolise into heptaminol. Since she had been unaware of this and isometheptene was not banned under UCI or IOC rules, her result was reinstated and her medal given back. She won the ITT at the Nationals again in 2007 and at the PanAmerican Games in 2011, when she was 43 years old.

Arthur Decabooter, born in Oudenaarde, Belgium on this day in 1936, won the Ronde van Vlaanderen in 1960, the Omloop Het Volk, E3 Harelbeke and GP Briek Schotte in 1961 and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in 1964 - a palmares that puts him well into contention for that most arbitrary and prized of titles, "Flandrien." Decabooter could also do well in a longer stage race and won two stages plus the overall Points competition at the Vuelta a Espana in 1960. He died on the 26th of May, 2012.

Other cyclists born on this day: Ian Mc Leod (Great Britain, races with a South African licence, 1980); Hitoshi Sato (Japan, 1962); Yoshikazu Cho (Japan, 1953); Rafael Ladrón (Spain, 1952); Malcolm McCredie (Australia, 1942); Emili Pérez (Andorra, 1966); Hans Andresen (Denmark, 1927); Erling Kristiansen (Norway, 1923, died 2009); Liévin Lerno (Belgium, 1927); Claus Møller (Denmark, 1968); Severino Rigoni (Italy, 1914, died 1992); Lino Aquea (Chile, 1962).

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 02.10.2013

Kim Andersen
Born in Malling, Denmark on this day in 1952, Kim Andersen became the first Dane to wear the maillot jaune of the Tour de France when he led the race for five days early in the 1983 edition]. He also won Stage 12, but by that time trailed too far behind the leaders in the General Classification. In 1984 he won La Flèche Wallonne, and in 1985 he once again wore the maillot jaune at the Tour, this time for three days.

He tested positive in 1987, the year he became National Champion, and was banned from competition for life; this was later reduced to one year but in 1992 he tested positive again and was sacked by his team, Z. After continuing as an independent to the end of the season, he retired. Andersen worked as a directeur sportif with various teams after 1998, including CSC from 2003. There, he first met the Schleck brothers and went with them to LeopardTrek for the 2011.

Andersen became known as the Schleck's directeur sportif of choice - which, in view of his doping history, would inevitably raise questions, especially when Frank tested positive for the diuretic (used to increase production of urine, thus reducing the concentration of performance-enhancing drugs in it and making them harder to detect) xipamide at the 2012 Tour de France (during 2013, RadioShack-Nissan announced that it would not be renewing Frank's contract when his ban expired. This was not the first time Frank had been named in connection to doping; in 2008, it was alleged - and subsequently confirmed - that €7000 had been paid from his bank account into one owned by none other than Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the centre of the Operacion Puerto scandal ; Andy has never failed a test nor been linked to doping, and it has been widely noted that the brothers have not been as close as they once were). He was at the centre of a row following the team's merger with RadioShack in 2012 when general manager Johan Bruyneel refused to let him work with the brothers at the Tour de France; however, Bruyneel was sacked by the team in October of that year following USADA's investigations into doping at US Postal which subsequently led to the disqualification of Lance Armstrong's seven Tour de France victories. Two months later, Nissan announced that they no longer wished to be associated with the team and ended sponsorship, then in 2013 Trek bought full ownership of the team from Leopard SA, a company owned by Flavio Becca; it is not known if Andersen will be a part of the new outfit.

2008 Fleche Wallonne winner Kim Kirchen, who rode for a number of professional teams between 1999 and 2010 including Highroad and Katusha, is named after Andersen - Kirchen's father Erny, who won the Fleche du Sud in 1973, is a friend of the Dane.

Born in Copenhagen on this day in 1962, Brian Holm was a super-domestique who won the National Individual Time Trial Championship in 1990 and later became manager of the national team. He admitted in his autobiography in 2002 that he had doped during the 1990s, then in 2007 that he twice used EPO during his time at Team Telekom; but was not sacked from his management position. Holm, who recovered from colon cancer in the mid-2000s and created a company that raises funds for cancer charities, has worked closely with British sprinter Mark Cavendish and is said to be a great motivational influence upon him.

Hilde Quintens, born in Zolder, Belgium on this day in 1964, was National Cyclo Cross Champion in 2003 and 2006.

André Foucher, born in Cuillé, France on this day in 1933, was National Military Road Race Champion in 1955 and National Independent Road Race Champion in 1958; he also came sixth overall in the 1964 Tour de France.

Nico Verhoeven, who was born in Berkel-Enschot, Netherlands on this day in 1961, was Amateur National Champion in 1984 and won Stage 1 at the Tour de France in 1987.

Other cyclists born on this day: Julien Vermote (Belgium, 1949 - the uncle of Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Julien Vermote, who was born in 1989): Luis Pasamontes (Spain, 1979); Daniela Larreal (Venezuela, 1973); Mitchell Docker (Australia, 1986); Sharon Vandromme (Belgium, 1983); Wilco Zuijderwijk (Netherlands, 1969); Liu Cheng-Tao (Taipei, 1937); Robert Pulfer (Canada, 1967); Alberto Downey (Chile, 1890); John Sinibaldi (USA, 1913, died 2006); Chester Nelsen, Sr. (USA, 1902, died 1987); Pavel Khamidulin (USSR, 1971); Shazada Muhammad Shah-Rukh (Pakistan, 1926); Pietro Algeri (Italy, 1950); Ronny Vanmarcke (Belgium, 1947); Dellys Starr (Australia, 1976); Hernán Masanés (Chile, 1931).

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 01.10.2013

On this day in 1961 a bicycle race took place at Petit-Enghien, a little village of red-brick houses scattered along a stretch of the Tournai-Brussels road not far from Hainaut in the Walloon region of Belgium.

It wasn't an important race and very few people were there to see the unknown 16-year-old boy who took his very first victory that day. His name was Edouard Louis Joseph Merckx.

Chloe Hosking
Chloe Hosking
Born in Bendigo, Australia on this day in 1990, Chloe Hosking won a silver medal and two bronze at the Oceania Games in 2006, then two bronze at the Nationals and two golds and two silvers at the Oceania Championships the following year and a gold and bronze at the Nationals in 2008. After such an illustrious junior track career, she signed up to the Dutch-based Moving Ladies team for 2009 and began concentrating on road racing in 2009 and came third at the Bay Classic and won a criterium in Wellington and two stages plus the General Classification at the Tour of Chongming Island. In 2010 she joined HTC-Colombia, where she would stay until the team dissolved at the end of 2011; during that time she won the National Under-23 Criterium Championship, another stage at Chongming Island and was fourth at the Holland Ladies' Tour. She then went to Specialized-Lululemon for 2012 won the Young Riders category at the Tour of Qatar, then beat the World Champion Giorgia Bronzini and Marianne Vos to first place at the Drentse 8 van Dwingeloo before going on to win Stage 5 at the Route de France Féminine later in the season.

Following the 2011 World Championships, several female riders attacked the UCI over conditions in women's cycling, especially highlighting the fact that whereas the male riders in the ProTour receive a guaranteed minimum wage, some of their female counterparts are paid no salary at all. Hosking added her voice to the argument following the Bay Classic - when asked for her thoughts on UCI president Pat McQuaid's statement in which he claimed women's cycling is insufficiently developed for the riders to deserve pay equality, she replied: "What can you say, Pat McQuaid is a dick."

McQuaid, predictably, was less than impressed and moves to punish her got underway. Fans, however, supported the rider - many used Twitter to point out that they too thought McQuaid was a dick, adding that there was absolutely nothing he could do to stop them saying so. Cycling Australia, as the nation's official UCI-affiliated cycling body, had no choice but to act, but announced that it would seek an explanation before deciding on a punishment; notably, it also emphasised the fact that all its members "have the right to express views contrary to those of the UCI." Hosking then replied: "I have to apologise for how I phrased my comments, I wasn't that eloquent. Women's cycling every year is getting stronger and stronger. It needs to get more recognition and I'm not going to apologise for what I said, but I do apologise for how I said it" - and Cycling Australia, accepting her official apology, levied a fine of just $200, suspended for a year (so she won't have to pay it unless she does something similar in that period), and hinted very heavily that it also believes the UCI ought to be doing a lot more for women's cycling than has been the case during McQuaid's presidency.

Throughout 2013, having left Lululemon for Hitec Products-UCK, Hosking lived up to the promise she had shown when she beat Bronzini and Vos, taking a series of impressive results. She started the season by winning the Young Riders category for a second time at the Tour of Qatar, but this time she was also second in the Points and General Classifications. She was seventh at the Drentse 8 and fourth at the Ronde van Drenthe, second on Stage 2 and third on Stage 3b at the Energiewacht Tour, third at the Ronde van Gelderland and fourth at the Omloop van Borsele; then finished Stages 1 and 2 in second place at the Tour of Chongming Island, also taking second place in the overall General Classification. In early September, she won Stage 5 at the Boels Rental Ladies Tour, beating no less a sprinter than Kirsten Wild of Argos-Shimano in a bunch sprint to the line. Hosking was given a place on the Australian team going to the World Championships in 2013, and is hotly tipped to win a World Championship within a few years given a parcours suited to her.

Adam Blythe
Born in Sheffield, Great Britain on this day in 1989, Adam Blythe comes from a cycling family and was encouraged to begin competing during childhood, as was his sister Kimberley who has also enjoyed some success. Blythe qualified for British Cycling's Olympic Development Program and won a number of Junior National titles on the track, but decided his future lay with the commercial trade teams and left in 2009 with a Cycling Time Trials scholarship allowing him to relocate to Belgium in an attempt to further his career; he joined Silence-Lotto as a trainee and won a stage at the Thüringen-Rundfahrt that year, then picked up sufficiently promising results to win a two-year full-professional contract with the team.

Whilst riding for Silence-Lotto, which became Omega Pharma-Lotto in 2010, Blythe became a close friend of Philippe Gilbert; the two riders moved together to BMC in 2012. That year, one day after his 22nd birthday, Blythe scored one of the most prestigious road race victories of his career up to that point when he won the bunch sprint finish of Binche-Tournai-Binche, a race held intermittently since 1911 and widely regarded as a semi-classic. Through 2013, however, he began to perform on an entirely different level, finishing Stages 5 and 6 and the General Classification at the Tour of Qatar in fourth place and then managing seventh place on the first stage of the Giro d'Italia, recording the same time as winner Mark Cavendish. He is frequently listed as one of the most promising up-and-coming British riders and may well start to enjoy considerable success at the Grand Tours over the next few years.

Wout Poels
Poels stalked by the broom wagon en route to Super-Besse,
Tour de France 2011. He was the last rider to finish the
stage, then abandoned during Stage 9 the following day.
Born in Venray, Netherlands on this day in 1987, Wout Poels caused a stir when he won the Vuelta Ciclista a León in 2008, aged just 20. In 2010 he won stages at the Tour de l'Ain (where he was second overall) and at the Tour of Britain and was second in the King of the Mountains at the Tour de Suisse.

The following season he was third overall at the Tour Méditerranéen, fourth overall at the Vuelta Cicilista a Murcia and second on Stage 2 at 18th overall at Tirreno-Adriatico. Then, he went to the Tour de France; he did not finish and his best result was 44th place on Stage 4, but experiencing the greatest event in sport seemed to encourage him, spurring him on to perform at a higher level in order to secure his place at the race in the future -  in the months after the Tour, he was second on Stage 6 and fourth overall at the Tour of Poland, won Stage 3 and was second overall at the Tour de l'Ain and finished eighth on Stage 4, fourth on Stage 14 and second on Stages 5 and 15 before coming 17th overall at the Vuelta a Espana.

2012 was rather quieter, though he picked up some good results including a stage win at the Tour de Luxembourg, but in 2013 he began to show huge promise once more with a superb seventh place finish of Stage 9 and 28th overall at the Tour de France.

Poels rode for Vacansoleil-DCM from 2008 to 2013; he will switch to Omega Pharma-QuickStep for 2014.

Neil Stephens, born in Canberra on this day in 1963, is the only Australian rider to have completed all three Grand Tours in a single year. He was National Road Race Champion in 1991 and 1994. Stephens joined Festina-Lotus in 1997 and was one of the riders implicated in the Festina Affair of 1998, but claimed that he had never willingly doped and had taken only what he believed to have been vitamin supplements administered by the team doctor. He retired a short while after the team left the Tour de France.

José Beyaert, born in Lens, France on this day in 1925, won the Road Race at the Olympics in 1948. In 1952 he won Stages 2, 3, 6, 11, 13 and the General Classification at the Tour of Colombia, then moved to the country to become coach of the national team. He later returned to France and died in La Rochelle in 2005.

Ian Cammish, who was born in Great Britain on this day in 1956, won the Road Time Trials Council’s British Best All-Rounder in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1989. The six between 1980 and 1985 remain the record for consecutive wins - and is only one of Cammish's records: he was also the first rider to achieve an average speed greater than 30mph in an "out-and-home" 50-mile TT and his "straight out" 50 and 100-mile records still stand at the time of writing. In 2008, Cammish won the 12-Hour Championship with a distance of 284.54 miles - he was 51 years old.

Attilio Pavesi, 01.10.1910- 02.08.2011
Attilio Pavesi, born in Caorso, Italy on this day in 1910, won gold medals for the Individual and Team road races at the 1932 Olympics. He later relocated to Argentina to become a race organiser and died in Buenos Aires on the 2nd of August in 2011 - at almost 101, he was the oldest Olympic Champion and was believed to be possibly the oldest person to have competed in the Games.

Other cyclists born on this day: Wilfried Peffgen (Germany, 1942); Jutta Niehaus (West Germany, 1964); Vethaak (Netherlands, 1914, died 1991); Hans Leutelt (Czechoslovakia, 1914, died 1936); Julie Speight (Australia, 1966); Yader Zoli (Italy, 1975); Galina Yenyukhina (USSR, 1959); Matthew Wilson (Australia, 1977);  Romero (Mexico , 1932, died 2007); José Herrada (Spain, 1985); Charles Morton (USA, 1916, died 1996); Yoshihiro Tsumuraya (Japan, 1964); Jacques Simon (France, 1938); Pavel Zaduban (Slovakia, 1968); Neil Lloyd (Antigua and Barbuda, 1966).

Monday 30 September 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 30.09.2013

José Manuel Fuente Lavendera
José Manuel Fuente
Born in Limanes, Spain on this day in 1945, José Manuel Fuente Lavendera won the Vuelta a Espana in 1972 and 1974 and, as a remarkably gifted climber (who drew comparisons to the great Federico Bahamontes, rated by some as having been an even better climber than Charly Gaul) would almost certainly have won a Giro d'Italia and a Tour de France had his best years not coincided with the domination of the Grand Tours by Eddy Merckx. Nevertheless, alongside his fellow Spaniard Luis Ocaña, he was one of only four or five riders able to pose a real threat to Merckx and, given a stage with the right kind of terrain, could beat him.

In 1968, Fuente won the second edition of the Caboalles de Abajo, a race that was last held in 1987; the following year he turned professional with the Spanish Pepsi Cola team and came third at the Vuelta Ciclista Asturias. He then switched to Karpy-Licor for 1970 and won Stage 9 at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya before going to KAS-Kaskol in 1971 and winning Stage 10 and the King of the Mountains at the Giro and Stages 14 and 15 at the Tour. Fuente's epic battle with Merckx at the 1972 Giro has gone into cycling legend as one of the greatest duels in the history of the sport: it began early in the race when Fuente took the lead with Merckx taking it a few days later. When the race reached the mountains, Fuente went to work on the Belgian and piled on the pressure; Merckx was a good climber - Merckx excelled everywhere - but Fuente was better and many fans expected him to take an unbeatable lead. However, slowly but surely, Merckx forced himself to go faster and faster up the mountains and, eventually, won the stage. It took a lot out of him, but he secured overall victory; Fuente won the King of the Mountains for a second time.

In 1973, Fuente won the Tour de Suisse, then Stage 18 and another King of the Mountains at the Giro d'Italia; he was also third overall behind Ocaña and Bernard Thevenet. At the Giro the following year, he won the King of the Mountains again and was third in the Points competition and fifth overall, but in 1975 his only victory was a cyclo cross race - his health, affected by a kidney complaint, was beginning to decline and he retired early in 1976 after his final victory, Stage 3a at the Vuelta a los Valles Mineros. Later, he opened a bike company in Spain and was successful; then in 1988 he became a directeur sportif for Clas but was replaced after a year.

Fuente underwent a kidney transplant in 1996, but less than a week later developed pancreatitis and then suffered a heart attack; another operation and removal of his spleen was unsuccessful in saving his life and he died aged 50 on the 18th of July.

Shelley Olds
Born in Groton, Massachusetts on this day in 1980, Shelley Olds was captain of the soccer team at Roanoke College, where she studied sports science, and had no interest in cycling until she was introduced to the sport by her future husband and began racing on the track a short while later; on 2007 she rode with the bronze medal-winning team in the Pursuit at the National Championships, then a year later she became National Scratch Race Champion.

Shelley Olds
Despite her track glory, Olds' future lay in road racing and, having enjoyed some success as long ago as 2006 when she was second at the Manhattan Beach GP criterium, she made the switch in 2009 and from that point has concentrated on road racing. That same year she won five times, including the General Classification at the Tulsa Tough; she was also second overall at the Nature Valley GP, but the best indication of her potential came in July when she was second on Stage 8 at the only surviving Grand Tour in women's cycling, the Giro Donne. 2010 was her real breakthrough year with overall victory at the Tour of New Zealand where she won four of a total six stages and beat Amber Neben by 16'; later in the year she scored some more good stage results - though no wins - at the Giro Donne and the Holland Ladies' Tour.

In 2011, Olds was second at the Drentse 8 van Dwingeloo after proving unable to respond to the might of Marianne Vos, then also at the Liberty Classic when she was beaten by World Champion Giorgia Bronzini. She rode for AA in 2012 and got off to a good start with promising results in the PanAmerican Championshipsand fourth place overall at the Tour of Chongming Island. Chongming also hosts a round of the World Cup and Olds won it, then two weeks later she was second at Dorpenomloop Wijk en Aalburg and in early June she came very close to winning Stage 1 at the Emakumeen Bira but was beaten in the sprint by Ina-Yoko Teutenberg. Although she ultimately finished in 27th place, the Giro Donne went well for Olds: she took second place on Stage 1, losing to Vos but beating Bronzini, was fourth on Stage 2, won Stage 6 (Vos and Bronzini were second and third) and was fourth on Stage 8. She also took seventh place in the Olympic road race, an extremely respectable result considering the enormously high level of competition at the event and the puncture she had 30km from the finish after escaping the peloton with a breakaway group 20km earlier, and was second on Stage 5 at the Brainwash Ladies' Tour (the Holland Ladies' Tour, renamed after its new main sponsor). did not continue in 2013, its owner Leontien van Moorsel stating that after many years running women's teams she was simply too exhausted by the non-stop battle to secure long-term sponsorship to continue. Olds went to the American team Tibco-To The Top and enjoyed another successful season with fifth place at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, second at Le Samyn and the Omloop van het Hageland - Tielt-Winge, fourth at the Drentse 8, eighth overall at the Tour of Chongming Island, first at the Chrono de Gatineau, fifth overall at the Lotto-Belisol Tour and fifth at the Giro della Toscana - where Tibco were one of the few teams to finish the race, 63 riders including General Classification leader Marianne Vos having refused to start the final stage in protest at dangerous conditions caused by poor organisation and management. Team owner Linda Jackson issued a press release stating that her riders "will not accept any benefit" from continuing; Olds' Toscana result may therefore not appear on her palmares.

Catharine Pendrel
Born in Fredericton, New Brunswick on this day in 1980, Catharine Pendrel grew up on her family's farm, where she learned to ride and began to compete in dressage. Her brother, Geoff, is a downhill mountain biker and built trails on the farm. Before too long, Catharine was regularly borrowing one of his bikes and was riding them with him. She also rode her first race on her brother's bike.

By her own admission, Pendrel "sucked" at sports when she was at school; when she went to university and decided to try out for the National development squad, she had to persuade the team coach Dan Proulx to give her an audition. Fortunately, she convinced him and Proulx knows his stuff, because he saw something worth nurturing - and in 2004, she qualified for the World Championships where she came 43rd.

In the years that followed she improved vastly, winning the Cross Country at the PanAmerican Championships and taking second place at the Nationals in 2007, then second again at the Nationals and fourth in the Olympics of 2008. In 2010 and 2012, Pendrel won the Nationals. She also won an online poll to select Canada's flag-bearer at the London Olympics, but the Olympic Committee favoured triathlete Simon Whitfield who was given the honour; he failed to finish in his event, she was ninth in hers - an excellent result, despite her tears and dismay afterwards.

"Catharine and I often joke because, no, I didn’t see [world champion potential] in her at first,"  Proulx told the Toronto Star. "It took a lot of persistence and hard work over time. She had to bug me a bit to get me to coach her at first and luckily it all worked out. It just goes to show you, you can work hard and make something happen."

In 2013, Pendrel won the Whistler round of the XCO cross-country mountain bike world cup.

Jean-Paul van Poppel
Jean-Paul van Poppel, born in Tilburg on this day in 1962, is one of the Netherlands' all-time most successful sprinters with stage wins in all three of the Grand Tours and numerous other races. His first notably good results came in 1982 when he was third at the Under-23 Omloop Het Volk and won a stage at the Olympia's Tour; he would come third at the 1983 Amateur National Championships and win the Omloop der Kempen and another stage at the Olympia's Tour in 1984 before signing his first professional contract with Skala the following year - when he won Stage 5 at the Tour de l'Avenir and five other races. Excellent results for a neo-pro, but ones that paled into insignificance in 1986 when he won a stage at Tirreno-Adriatico, two stages (2 and 13) at the Giro d'Italia and the Scheldeprijs Classic.

Jean-Paul van Poppel
In 1987 van Poppel rode his first Tour de France and won Stages 8 and 17, coming 130th in the General Classification but first in the Points competition. After winning Scheldeprijs for a second time in 1988 he went back to the Tour and won Stages 3, 10, 17 and 22 - though this time, his poor performances in the mountains left him at fifth place on Points. In 1989 he won Stages 1 and 15a at the Giro but didn't finish the race, nor did he finish the Tour that year. He won no stages at either race in 1990, but in 1991 he won Stages 3, 5 and 6 at the Vuelta Ciclista a Aragón, Stage 5 at Paris-Nice, Stages 6, 9, 13 and 21 at the Vuelta a Espana and then Stage 7 at the Tour; a year later he took Stages 3 and 5 at the Vuelta and 10 at the Tour. He also won Stages 4 and 8 at the Vuelta in 1993 and Stage 9 at the Vuelta and Stage 2 at the Tour in 1994.

Van Poppel retired in 1995 and became directeur sportif of a women's team, one member of which - Mirjam Melchers, whose birthday falls just a few days before Jean-Paul's - became his wife. Their three children are all cyclists: Boy achieved four podium finishes  and won the Points competition at the 2012 Tour of Britain, Kim was National Debutant Cyclo Cross and Novice Road Race Champion in 2006 and Danny won two stages at the Under-23 Thüringen-Rundfahrt in 2012.

Sture Pettersson, born in Alingsås, Sweden on this day in 1940, was one of the four Fåglum brothers who won the World Amateur Team Time Trial Championship in 1967, 1968 (when they also won a silver medal at the Olympics) and 1969. Gösta, the most accomplished of the brothers, won the Giro d'Italia in 1971.

Gert Steegmans
Born in Hasselt on this day in 1980, Belgian rider Gert Steegmans has won numerous very good results over the course of his career from 1996 to the present, including Tour de France stages - Stage 2 in 2007 and Stage 21 in 2008; yet he is better known for two other incidents. The first was his refusal to sign an anti-doping agreement with his Katusha team shortly before the 2009 Tour; an agreement which required any rider who was subsequently found guilty of doping to pay a fine to the team equal to five times their annual salary - though he has never tested positive, Steegmans refused even when Katusha didn't permit him to ride at the Tour and then dissolved his contract. The second was a bizarre accident that took place at the 2010 Paris-Nice when he was "attacked" by a whirlwind, which lifted him off his bike and into the air before throwing him to the ground and leaving him with a broken collarbone - an injury that is very common among cyclists, but in this instance sustained in an almost certainly unique way.

David García Dapena, who was born in Marin, Spain on this day in 1977, won stages at numerous races and came 23rd in the 2007 Vuelta a Espana before winning the Tour of Turkey and Stage 15 at the Vuelta in 2008. In 2009, he was 23rd at the Vuelta again, then 11th in 2010 - however, whilst at the Vuelta that year he failed a dope test, the sample he provided testing positive for first EPO and then Hydroxyethyl starch (which increases the blood's ability to transport oxygen to the muscles). As a result he was stripped of his 2010 Vuelta result and banned for two years, after which he announced his retirement. Following his ban, García worked with police as part of "Operacion Skype" and provided them with information that led to the arrest of Dr. Alberto Beltrán Niño, suspected of providing doping products to riders from the several well-known teams that have employed him over many years.

Kenny van Hummel, born in Elden, Netherlands on this day in 1982, is a sprint specialist who has achieved a great many very good results and numerous victories in races that ended with a sprint. It is, therefore, a little unfair that he has been labelled the Tour de France's Worst Ever Climber, as declared by L'Equipe in 2009 when he finished every mountain stage in last place prior to being injured in Stage 17 and abandoning the race. Those who are less cruel will point out that, long before van Hummel left, several other riders had already abandoned, citing the tough climbs as the reason. L'Equipe also did him a bit of a favour because he became a far greater celebrity in the Netherlands than he would have done through his results alone.

Iban Mayoz - frequently confused with fellow Basque Iban Mayo - was born in San Sebastián on this day in 1981. Unusual in that he is good in both prints and the mountains, he won the Sprints classification at the Vuelta al País Vasco and Euskal Bizikleta in 2008 and the Mountains classification at the Vuelta a Castilla y León in 2010.

Rolf Gölz, who was born in Bad Schussenried, West Germany on this day in 1962, became National Road Race Champion in 1985 and won Stage 15 at the Tour de France in 1987 - but his best year was 1988, when he won Stage 8 at the Tour as well as Paris-Brussels and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

Dmytro Grabovskyy, born in Ukraine on this day in 1985, was World Under-23 Road Race Champion in 2005 and won the King of the Mountains at Tirreno-Adriatico in 2010.

Enrique Peñalosa Londoño, born in Washington DC on this day in 1955, is a Liberal/Green Colombian politician who was mayor of Bogota from 1998 and 2001. As a New Urbanist, Peñalosa supported programs designed to remodel the city in favour of sustainable transport and to encourage people to give up private car ownership - among his successes was the construction of the city's Ciclorura, bicycle lanes that run alongside (but separate from) the roads. He also unsuccessfully attempted to purchase Bogota's private, members-only Country Club so that it could be demolished and turned into a public park.

Other cyclists born on this day: Philip Buys (South Africa, 1988); Bryce Beeston (New Zealand, 1947); Leif Larsen (Denmark, 1942); Joe Jones (Canada, 1944); Ingo Wittenborn (West Germany, 1964); Angelo Damiano (Italy, 1938); Jan Magiera (Poland, 1938); Javier Mejías (Spain, 1983); David Tanner (Australia, 1984); Gonçalo Amorim (Portugal, 1972, died 2012); Tomás Nistal (Spain, 1948); Wolfram Kühn (East Germany, 1950); Antonín Perič (Czechoslovakia, 1896, died 1980); Matthias Buxhofer (Austria, 1973).

Sunday 29 September 2013

Daily Cycling Facts 29.09.2013

Felice Gimondi
Felice Gimondi
Italy has produced very many great cyclists, among them some of the best to have ever lived - but only Coppi and Bartali (others might add Moser and Pantani) come close to Felice Gimondi, who was born in Sedrino on this day in 1942.

Like many riders who later became great, Gimondi owed the strength in his legs to the heavy delivery bike he rode in childhood - in his case, helping his mother, who worked as a mail carrier, to make her rounds. In 1964 he won the Tour de l'Avenir and came 33rd in the Road Race at the Olympics, which earned him his first professional contract the following year with Salvarani. He was still there when the team became Bianchi-Campagnolo in 1973 and stayed with them until his retirement in 1979. In the months immediately after signing the contract, Gimondi won four important races and came second at La Flèche Wallonne; however, as the Tour de France is generally considered too difficult for a ride in his first professional year, he was selected to take part only at the last moment when a team mate became unable to ride. He won Stages 3, 18 and 22 and took first place in the General Classification and third in the Points competition; one of only 11 riders to have won the race after a first attempt in the history of the Tour, immediately becoming a national hero as a result.

Gimondi would never win another Tour, but victory at Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Brussels and the Giro di Lombardia, a stage win at the Tour de Romandie plus a stage win and fifth place overall at the Giro d'Italia proved that his earlier unexpected success was not a fluke and that he was a rider of prodigious talent. He confirmed it the next year by winning seven races early in the season, then won the General Classification at the Giro d'Italia, which would become the scene of his greatest moments: he won it again in 1969 and 1976, came second twice and third four times - a record nine podium finishes. In 1968 he won the National Road Race Championships (as he would again in 1972) and the Vuelta a Espana and thus became te second man in history to have won all three Grand Tours; to this day only three other riders have been added to the list. He was also third at the Giro that year despite failing an anti-doping test (he would fail another at the Tour de France in 1975 but was again allowed to continue and came fifth overall).

Gimondi later in his career
Gimondi's 1966 wins at Paris-Roubaix - the frequently nightmarish race that many riders call the most difficult and dangerous of them all -  and the Giro di Lombardia suggested that he also had the potential to be a successful Classics rider, including in the very tough Northern Cobbled Classics that, according to tradition, Italians could not win (despite the fact that by Gimondi's era several had). He began entering more of them in 1968 and that year he was third at Gent-Wevelgem; then in 1969 he was second at the Ronde van Vlaanderen - like Paris-Roubaix, a Monument race on account of being one of the hardest and most prestigious Classics. In 1970 he was second at the Giro di Lombardia, then second at Milan-San Remo in 1971 and at Gent-Wevelgem and third in the Giro di Lombardia in 1972. In 1973 he was third at Milan-San Remo, but his talent at one-day races came to the fore at the World Championships where he won the Road Race and he finished the season with another triumph at the Giro di Lombardia. In 1976 he won Milan-San Remo and Paris-Brussels, a semi-Classic.

Estimates vary as to how many races Gimondi won, but approximately 160 seems likely. Numerous riders have won more, but few have been as successful in so many of the most important races. Now aged 70, he is still involved with competitive cycling as the president of the TX Active-Bianchi Mountain Bike team.

Óscar Sevilla
Born in Ossa de Montiel, Spain on this day in 1976, Óscar Sevilla turned professional with Kelme-Costa Blanca in 1998 and won Stage 4 at the Tour de Romandie the following year. In 1999 he went to the Giro d'Italia and came 16th overall, but his big break came in 2001 when he was seventh overall at the Tour de France - and second overall at the Vuelta a Espana. In 2002 he was fourth overall and third in the Points competition at the Vuelta.

Sevilla in 2004
Despite such remarkable early promise, Sevilla never did win a Grand Tour - he was 12th at the Vuelta in 2003 (and missed several races following a crash at the World Championships, which left him with an injured back); 24th at the Tour and 22nd at the Vuelta in 2004 and 18th at the Tour and sixth at the Vuelta in 2005. Having been blocked from entering the Tour in 2006 when he was linked to Operacion Puerto (he was also fired by T-Mobile, but found a new contract with Relax-GAM), he began looking to the shorter stage races and one-day events and was immediately successful, winning the Vuelta Ciclista Asturias in 2006, the Route du Sud in 2007, second place in the National Road Race Championship and first in the Colombian Clásico RCN in 2008, the Cascade Classic, the Vuelta a Cundinamarca and the Vuelta Chihuahua Internacional in 2009 when he signed for two years with Rock Racing.

Rock spent much of 2010 racing in Central and South America with Sevilla winning one race in Mexico and seven in Colombia, including the Vuelta a Colombuia where he failed an anti-doping test that detected Hydroxyethyl starch, a blood plasma expander that has been used as a masking agent in an attempt to hide the presence of EPO. He was given a provisional ban but returned with Gobernación de Antioquia-Indeportes Antioquia in 2011, then won several further Colombian races and was fourth overall at the Tour of Utah. In 2012 he won the Vuelta y Ruta de Mexico and the Colombian Vuelta a Boyacà.

Leonardo Piepoli
Piepoli at the Tour de Romandie, 2007
Born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland on this day in 1971, Leonardo Piepoli holds the record for winning the Subida a Urkiola with four victories (1995, 1999, 2003 and 2004). In 1994 he won the Baby Giro, which led to his first professional contract the following year when he signed to Refin; in addition to the Urkiola he won twice at the Trofeo dello Scalatore climbers' competition that year, then in 1996 he was 17th overall at the Tour de France.

Piepoli developed into one of the most respected climbers of the late 1990s and early 21st Century, enabling him to take good results in the Grand Tours. He was 14th at the Tour in 1998, eighth in the Vuelta a Espana in 1999 and tenth in the Giro d'Italia in 2000; then had a few years in which he tended to finish out of the top 20. At the 2006 Giro he won Stages 13 and 17, then came 11th overall and was 13th at the Vuelta; in 2007 he won Stage 10 and the King of the Mountains at the Giro. However, after his Saunier Duval-Scott pulled out of the 2008 Tour following Riccardo Riccò's positive test for EPO, he was sacked amid accusations that he had violated the team's ethical code; El Pais, the Spanish newspaper, claimed that he had confessed to using EPO, but he denied that such a confession had ever been made while testifying at a court hearing into doping allegations made against Riccò. In October, news emerged that two of the samples he provided at the Tour had tested positive for CERA, a form of EPO that has a more long-lasting effect and can thus be used in lower doses in an attempt to escape detection. Three months later, he admitted to using the drug during "a moment of weakness." A short while after that, he was banned from competition for two years.

Ben Berden, who was born in Hasselt, Belgium on this day in 1975, came third at the World Under-19 Cyclo Cross Championship in 1994 and was National U-23 Champion two years later. He won numerous cross and road races over the subsequent years and was second at the Elite Cyclo Cross Nationals in 2003 and, in 2009, he won the Nationals for Elite riders without contracts. Early in 2005, Berden failed a doping test: as he immediately made a full confession, he was given a ban of 15 months rather than two years.

British rider Chris Newton, born in Middlesborough on this day in 1973, has been steadily winning races since 1994 when he rode with the silver medal-winning Pursuit team at the Commonwealth Games. He has won numerous events on the road and on the track - his road successes including the National Individual Time Trial Championship in 1999 and 2000, the National Criterium Championship in 2001, the Tour de la Manche in 2002, the Rás Tailteann in 2003 and 2005 and the Tour Doon Hame and Lincoln International in 2010; on the track he has won eight National Championships (Points, Scratch and Team Pursuit), two World Championships (Points 2002, Team Pursuit 2005) and a total of seven events at the World Cup. In 2008, he won the bronze for the Points race at the Olympics.

Vasco Bergamaschi
Vasco Bergamaschi, born in San Giacomo delle Segnate, Italy on this day in 1909, won Stage 1 at the Tour de France in 1934, Stages 1, 11 and the General Classification at the Giro d'Italia and Stage 13a at the Tour de France in 1935 and Stage 1 at the Giro in 1939. He might well have won more had his career not coincided with the end of Alfredo Binda's and the start of Gino Bartali's.

Antonio Bailetti, born in Bosco di Nanto, Italy on this day in 1937, won Stage 4 at the Giro d'Italia and Stage 9 at the Tour de France in 1962 and Stage 21 at the Giro and Stage 5 at the Tour in 1963.

Michael Schär, born in Geuensee, Switzerland on this day in 1986, was National Under-19 Time Trial Champion in 2004 and National Under-23 Time Trial Champion in 2005

Jules Merviel, born in Saint-Beauzély, France on this day in 1909, won Stage 7 at the Tour de France in 1930 and Stage 1 at Paris-Nice in 1934, when he was also second overall at the Critérium International. In 1935 he won bronze at the National Road Race Championships but later rode into the back of a truck at the Tour de France and was unable to compete again until the Tour de Picardie the following year. He continued racing until 1944, but won no further victories.

Laurens de Vreese, born in Ghent on this day in 1988, won the Under-23 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2008 and was second in 2010, when he also became National U-23 Road Race Champion. In 2012 he won the overall Combativity award at the Eneco Tour and in 2013 he won the Sprint Classification at the Benelux Tour.

Luca Barla, born in Bordighera, Italy on this day in 1987 (not to be confused with the other cycling Luca Barla, born in the same part of Italy in 1976), became National Under-19 Road Race Champion in 2005.

Other cyclists born on this day: Lucien Dirksz (Aruba, 1968); Igor Sumnikov (USSR, 1966); Gilbert Bischoff (Switzerland, 1951); David Grylls (USA, 1957); Frank Orban (Belgium, 1964); Jürg Luchs (Switzerland, 1956); Lex van Kreuningen (Netherlands, 1937); Wang Qingzhi (China, 1968); Aage Myhrvold (Norway, 1918, died 1987).