Friday 3 January 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 03.01.2014

Lucien Buysse
Lucien Buysse, 1892-1980
Lucien Buysse, winner of two stages and the overall General Classification at the 1926 Tour de France - at 5745km, the longest in history (it was also the first Tour that didn't start in Paris) - died on this day in 1980. He was born in Wontergem, Belgium on the 11th of September 1892 and counted the 1913 Tour of Belgium for Amateurs as his first major success.

During Stage 3 at the 1926 Tour, Buysse received news that his daughter had died. His immediate instinct was to leave the race and return home; but his family insisted he continued, realising that if her father could win a stage and dedicate his victory to her it would make a very fine memorial indeed.

Stage 10 was billed as the hardest in the history of the Tour. It began at midnight and, by 18:00, only ten men had arrived at the finish line. Possibly fearing that Desgrange's early concerns that riders in the Pyrenees were at risk of being eaten by bears, the organisers sent out cars in search of the missing men and began finding them, in various states of exhaustion, strung out along the route. A full 24 hours after the stage had begun, 47 of the 76 starters had crossed the line, at which point it was decided that all riders would be permitted an extra 40% of the winning time (6 hours and 48 minutes) in which to finish as the standard cut-off time in which all riders must finish in order to escape disqualification would leave a field so depleted it would reduce competition; the remaining 22 - incredibly, only one rider had abandoned - being disqualified. The stage had been so difficult that judges had turned a blind eye when some of the riders had arrived at the end of the stage by bus and when a member of the public confessed that he had carried some riders to the finish line in his car but insisted they'd been in such a poor state he had done so through altruism rather than for financial gain, officials declined to disqualify the riders - and paid the man for helping them.

Buysse on Tourmalet
Buysse, meanwhile, proved to be made of sterner stuff. Showing a similar ability to that later displayed by Charly Gaul, a capacity to withdraw into himself and keep going hard whilst those around him were reduced to their lowest ebb by the sheer suffering involved in what they were attempting to do, he made use of a storm on the Col d'Aspin and, accompanied by his brothers Jules (winner of Stages 1 and 2) and Michel, attacked the peloton so savagely that he took the yellow jersey from previous leader Gustave van Slembrouck and a lead just short of an hour from his own Automoto team captain Ottavio Bottecchia, winner in 1924 and 1926, who subsequently abandoned. By the time he crossed the finish line, after seventeen hours and 326km of solid riding, he was 25 minutes ahead of the next man and two hours ahead of van Slembrouck. The next stage, two days later, was also mountainous and only 3km shorter; when Buysse won that one too his overall victory was all but guaranteed Wisely, he conserved his energy from that point onwards; taking care not to over-exert himself and deliver consistent good results so that he held the race leadership all the way to Paris six stages later.

Giovanni Pelizzoli
Legendary Italian frame builder Giovanni Pelizzoli was born in Curno on this day in 1942. The son of a bike mechanic, he began racing at the age of 14 and achieved good results but always dreamed of building bikes rather than racing them. He became manager of a junior team whilst still a teenager and managed to land an apprenticeship with an artisan frame builder in Bergamo, where he learned his craft and in 1969 set up his own workshop building bikes under his CIÖCC brand, while also working as a mechanic for the GS Zonca team, then home to Gianni Motta. In 1977, Claudio Corti won a World Cup aboard a CIÖCC bike.

Pelizzoli's hand-built frames combine the best of old and
modern production techniques.
Pelizzoli sold the company in 1980 but continued building bikes and in 1993 was put in charge of the frame design division at Cicli F.lli Masciaghi, where he was responsible for the development of the firm' top-end Fausto Coppi-branded machines. The firm's pro team of the day included names such as Gianni Bugno, Richard Virenque and Davide Rebellin - at that time, among the best riders in the world. In 1995, Bugno won the Italian National Championship on a bike Pelizzoli hand-built specifically for him. A year later, Pascal Richard, Max Sciandri and Ralf Sorensen took the gold, silver and bronze medals in the Olympic road race, each of them aboard a Pelizzoli bike. Fabiana Luperini won five editions of the Giro Donne (the record) and three consecutive Tours de France Féminin (equaling Jeannie Longo's record) on hers.

Born in Gwndy, a village near Caldicot in Wales, on this day in 1991, Hannah Rich found her way into cycling via a roundabout route - in 2006, when she was 15, she took part in trampoline sessions held at Newport Velodrome and decided she liked the look of the track cycling she saw there. Later that same year, she won a silver medal in the Junior Points race at the National Track Championships, then two years later she became National Scratch race Champion. A year after that she was Welsh Road Race Champion and Junior British Points race Champion, then in 2011 she became Welsh Road Race Champion for a second time and came third in the British Circuit Race Championship.

Alessandro Petacchi
(image: CC BY-SA 3.0
Born in La Spezia on this day in 1974, Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi won an incredible 51 Grand Tour stages during his 15 year professional career - even with the stage wins that were later disqualified, he is the third most successful Grand Tour stage winner after Eddy Merckx and Mario Cipollini. He also won the Points Classification in all three races. Petacchi's results prior to 2007 have been disallowed after he tested positive for a controlled substance, though his positive result was due to incorrect use of his anti-asthma medicine rather than deliberate doping - while the Court of Arbitration in sport cleared him of intentionally doping, it ruled that in committing "human error" he had failed to exercise the utmost caution that is expected of all athletes. On the 23rd of April 2013, Petacchi announced via the Lampre-Merida website that he had retired but, at the age of 39, hinted that his decision might not be permanent. "My career has been full of satisfactions and enriched by all the most important victories that a rider like me could ever have aimed for," he said. "At the threshold of 200 victories in my career, I feel my life reaches a particular moment, a turning point, in which I perceive the need to find a new dimension and to have more time to dedicate to my family. These considerations conclude me to the decision to pause my career."

In 2013, Omega Pharma-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevre announced that Pettachi would be joining the team on a14-month contract beginning in August, the rider having said previously that he would like to act as lead-out man for the team's star sprinter Mark Cavendish.

More cyclists born on this day: Kevin Morgan (Australia, 1948); Les Wilson (Great Britain, 1926, died 20.01.2006); Morgan Schmitt (USA, 1985); Álvaro González de Galdeano (Spain, 1970);  Robert Oliver (New Zealand, 1950); Ross Edgar (UK, 1983); Ján Lepka (Slovakia, 1977); Vittorio Algeri (Italy, 1955); Juan Carlos Haedo (Argentina, 1948); Ole Byriel (Denmark, 1958); Karel Paar (Czechoslovakia, 1945); Gino Lori (Italy, 1956); Arturo Cambroni (Mexico, 1953); Ceris Gilfillan (Scotland, 1980); Marcel Gobillot (France, 1900, died 1991); Angie González (Venezuela, 1981).

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