Tuesday 6 May 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 06.05.2014

Alfredo Binda, 1924
The 27th edition of La Flèche Wallonne was held on this day in 1963 on a 213km parcours between Liège and Charleroi. The winner was Raymond Poulidor.

The Giro d'Italia has begun on this day three times. The first was in 1913, the fifth edition of the race ever held, when it was won by Carlo Oriani who had been born on the 5th of November 1888. The second time was in 1933 when Alfredo Binda won for a fifth and final time. It would be twenty years until Fausto Coppi - whom Binda trained - would equal this record, and to date it has not been bettered. The final time was 2006, the year that saw the reintroduction of the Team Time Trial for the first time since 1989 and the unpaved mountain pass Plan de Corones wa due to be used, but could not be due to bad weather. The winner that year was Ivan Basso.

Tino Tabak
Tino Tabak was born on this day in 1946 in De Bataaf, Netherlands, but emigrated to New Zealand with his family when he was six. He fell in love with cycling during his childhood and, by the age of ten, listed Tour de France victory as his main ambition in life.

In 1965, aged 19, he won the Elite National Road Race Championship, then that same year became the youngest rider in history to win the Tour of Southland - which he won for the next two years, too. In 1966 and 1967, he also won the Dulux Six Day and Manawatu Tours, making him the only rider to have ever won New Zealand's three major races in a single season. After the second time he did so he emigrated back to Europe, in his words "to learn how to ride a bike." He spent the next three seasons riding as an amateur and had amassed sufficient wins, including the Ronde van Noord-Holland, to earn a professional contract with Flandria-Mars in 1971 and with them he rode his first Tour, finishing the prologue in third place and crossing the line within the top ten on two other stages before abandoning after finishing Stage 9 in 89th place.

Still eligible to ride for the country of his birth, Tabak became National Road Race Champion in 1972 and entered his second Tour. This time he maintained consistently good results and took 18th place in the overall General Classification - the highest ever achieved by a rider from New Zealand. Sadly, he never did get his win: in 1973 he abandoned and then didn't enter again until 1976 when he abandoned for a third time. His career came to an end with a nasty crash at the 1978 Tour of Holland and he now lives in Canterbury, New Zealand. Tino Tobak - Dreams and Demons of a New Zealand Cycling Legend (Jonathan Kennet, 2009) tells the story of his life and provides an interesting insight into the world and processes of professional cycling in the 1970s.

Christophe Brandt
(image credit: Heidas CC BY-SA 3.0)
Christophe Brandt
Christophe Brandt was born in Liège on this day in 1977. In 1997 he won a stage at the amateur race Ronde van Limburg, which earned him a trainee contract in 1999 with Saeco and he spent his first professional season with them before moving onto Lotto, where he remained for the rest of his career.

In 2004, he fell foul of anti-doping controls when a sample he provided was discovered to contain traces of methadone, a synthetic opiate used to treat heroin addicts and which mimics the effects - including pain-killing effects, hence its appeal to endurance athletes - of heroin. Brandt stated that he had not intentionally used the drug and insisted it must have got into his body via a contaminated nutritional supplement he was using as part of his treatment for a liver condition and which about which he had notified the relevant authorities. Lotto management, meanwhile, chose not to take his word for it and fired him from the team - however, the Belgian Federation found during their investigation that the pharmacist who had prepared the supplement had in fact been preparing methadone prescriptions a short while before Brandt's medicine and cleared the rider of all charges. The team then rehired him, and he remained with them until his retirement in 2010.

Roman Kreuziger
Roman Kreuziger
(image credit: McSmit CC BY-SA 3.0)
Roman Kreuziger, born in Moravská Třebová in the Czech Republic on this day in 1986, is the son of the Roman Kreuziger who won the Österreich Rundfahrt in 1991. In 2004, he won both the Under-19 National Road Race and Time Trial, then also took the U-19 World Championship title - that same year, he won silver medals for the U-19 Time Trial and Cyclo Cross Championships too. That was, needless to say, more than enough to earn him his first offers of trainee contracts, and he turned professional with LiquiGas in 2006.

Unusually for a rider so skilled in a time trial, Kreuziger is also a very talented climber and, having come a surprise 21st at the 2007 Vuelta a Espana, he won the Tour de Suisse in 2008 after proving easily the fastest man up the 1948m Klausen Pass. That same year, still aged only 23, he kept up with the world's greatest over the mountains in the Tour de France - his first participation in the race - and finished in 13th place overall whilst only Andy Schleck could beat him in the Youth Classification.

In 2012 whilst riding for Astana, Kreuziger won Stage 9 at the Giro d'Italia and was sixth overall at the Tour de Suisse; in 2013 with SaxoBank he won the Amstel Gold Race - indication that at 26, he's finding the form to perform well in stage races and the Classics.

Vito Taccone
Born in Avezzano, Italy on this day in 1940, Vito Taccone turned professional with Atala in 1961 and immediately began to make his name - that year, he won two stages and the General Classification at the Tre Giorni del Sud, Stage 10 and the King of the Mountains at the Giro d'Italia and then took first place at the Giro di Lombardia. In the subsequent years, he continued to be highly successful at the Giro d'Italia: in 1962 he was fourth overall, in 1963 sixth overall (having won Stages 10, 11, 12, 13 and 19) and again first in the King of the Mountains, in 1964 he won Stage 4, in 1965 he was sixth overall and second in the King of the Mountains and in 1966 he was ninth overall and third in the Points competition. Along the way, he won Milano-Torino in 1965, was third in the National Championship and second at Tirreno-Adriatico in 1966 and then second at the Nationals in 1968.

Taccone evidently had piles of cycling talent - he was also very good at getting himself in trouble. At the 1964 Tour de France, he was accused by other riders of causing a large crash. After denying that he was to blame he got into a fight with Fernando Manzaneque who won numerous stages at the Vuelta a Espana; Taccone was not invited to the Tour again afterwards. He didn't change with age: in June 2007, he was arrested and charged with selling stolen and counterfeit clothing, chaining himself to the railings of Avezzano court in protest. Just a few months later, on the 15th of October, he died after having a heart attack.

Hans Junkermann, born in Sankt Tönis, Germany on this day in 1934, was a true all-rounder who excelled in tough one-day races, mountain stages and on the track. Whilst still an amateur, he was approached on numerous occasions by East German representatives who tried to persuade him to defect and become a paid amateur, but he was confident enough of his abilities to remain in the West and wait for a professional contract. That paid off in 1955 when he joined Bauer; the first of the many teams for whom he rode over the course of his 19-year career, because Junkermann was a rider who refused to stay put - in 1958 alone, he rode for Molteni, Solo, Feru and Altenburger. He held ten National Championship titles in his time, including for Track Pursuit in 1958, Road Race in 1959, 1960 and 1961, Madison in 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964 and 1965 and Team Pursuit in 1962. In addition, he won the 1959 and 1962 Tour de Suisse, thus becoming the first German to do so without wearing a swastika jersey (Ludwig Geyer had won in 1934).

Mario Kummer was born in Thuringia on this day in 1962 and represented East Germany at the 1988 Olympics prior to the Reunification of his nation, riding on the gold medal winning squad in the Team Time Trial. In 1990, when East Germans had been freed to travel to the West, he turned professional with Chateau d'Ax-Salotti and remained with them for two seasons before switching to PDM; then in 1993 he joined Telekom and remained with them until retirement in 1997. Since 2007, he has worked as a manager with the Astana team.

Other cyclists born on this day: Artūrs Matisons (Latvia, 1985); Bernhard Stübecke (Germany, 1904, died 1964); Dieter Koslar (Germany, 1940, died 2002); Franc Škerlj (Yugoslavia, 1941).

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