Thursday 17 July 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 17.07.2014

Noemi Cantele
Noemi Cantele
Born in Varese, Italy on this day in 1981, Noemi Cantele competed in swimming and athletics as a child - but cycling was in her blood; her family having been fans and cyclists for generations. Her grandfather gave her a bike when she was 12 and, almost immediately, she found that she could beat her older brother, who took part in local races.

Having fallen in love with cycling, she joined local club JuSport Gorla Minore where she met Ugo Menoncin - whom she describes as "the man who shaped me, taught me to live and win." With him, she began to win. Not only local races, but big, prestigious ones - like a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships of 1999. In 2002, she joined the Acca Due O team and began taking part in Elite level competition. As is common with most athletes when they first make the transition to the top level of their sport, she says that the increased competition - "promettevo molto e forse non ho vinto in proporzione" ("I promised lots, but my wins were not in proportion") - took her by surprise, but in the first year she won a stage at the Eko Tour Dookla Polski and came third overall. 2003 was far quieter, but in 2004 she went to the Olympics and came 13th in the road race.

2005 would prove to be Cantele's real breakthrough year with second place at Albstadt and the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, then victory at the GP Ouest France (GP de Plouay); results that brought an invitation to join the world famous Bigla team. She would remain with them for the next four years. Now that she had the support of a world-class team, Cantele began bringing in victory after victory - in 2006, she would win stages at the Route du France, Trophée d'Or and the Giro della Toscana, some of the best-known women's races in the world. The year after that she won the GPs Brissago and Raffeisen, another GP Ouest France and the General Classifications at the Trophée d'Or and Giro della Toscana. She concentrated on the Olympics in 2008 and came 15th, then began to work on her time trial ability, which led to victory at the National Time Trial Championship race in 2009. That same year, she won silver for the time trial at the Worlds (an bronze in the road race), also winning the Emakumeen Saria and - for the first time - a stage at the Giro Donne.

At the Giro del Trentino, 2012
In 2010, Cantele joined the legendary HTC-Colombia team and won more Giro della Toascana stages with them; in 2011 she moved on to the British-based Garmin-Cervelo and rode alongside some of the most famous names in the history of women's professional cycling, riders such as Iris Slappendel, Carla Ryan, Sharon Laws, Lizzie Armitstead and Emma Pooley, and she became Italian Champion in both the road race and the time trial that year. Sadly, Garmin-Cervelo's women's team came to an end at the end of the year when a sponsor withdrew backing (the fact that continuing the women's team would have required the diversion of only a tiny percentage of funds going to the men's team was not missed by fans, though manager Jonathan Vaughters argued this was not possible) and the riders were left in an uncertain position for a while; fortunately the British riders, Australian Ryan and Belgian Jessie Daams all found new homes with AA, Alexis Rhodes went to GreenEDGE, Slappendel to Rabobank and Cantele to a new position as captain of the Italian BePink team. With them, she has ventured into new territory and won the GP el Salvador and a stage at the Vuelta Ciclista Femenina el Salvador in South America, as well as the GP Liberazione in Italy and a stage at the Giro del Trentino Alto Adige-Südtirol. She remains with BePink - now Astana-BePink - to this day, and won the Grand Prix de Oriente and two stages (in addition to her team's victory in the team time trial) and the General Classification at the Vuelta Ciclista Femenina a el Salvador  in 2013.

Cantele is a regular on Twitter, where she regularly chats with fans and posts interesting insights into races. She also has an excellent and informative website.

Belgian rider Eric Leman, who was born in Ledegem on this day in 1946. During the late 1960s and first half of the 1970s he became one of the world's top Classics riders with victories at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne (1968), the Dwars door Vlaanderen (1969) and the Ronde van Vlaanderen, for which he shares the record of three wins (1970, 1972 and 1973). Leman was also an effective rider in stage races, winning a total of five stages at the Tour de France, ten at Paris-Nice and one at the Vuelta a Espana.

Jaan Kirsipuu, born in Tartu on this day in 1969, was Estonian time trial champion seven times and road race champion three times. He also won four stages of the Tour de France between 1999 (when he led the race for six days) and 2004 and one at the Vuelta a Espana in 1998. With 130 professional victories he is regarded in Estonia as the nation's finest ever cyclist; elsewhere he is primarily known for abandoning the Tour a record twelve times.

Many cyclists are superstitious but Nico Mattan, born in Belgium on this day in 1971, took it further than most: in addition to a dislike of the number 13 that borders on being an actual phobia (if assigned it - or even a number such as 49, in which the two digits can be added to make 13 - as a race number he would try to convince organisers to assign him a different number, and if unsuccessful would wear it upside-down), he believes that 17 is lucky and would request it - or numbers such as 89 - when possible. Mattan's greatest victory was the 2005 Gent-Wevelgem, one of the prestigious Flanders Classics races, but it was a controversial win as many believed he'd drafted behind a team car in order to slingshot past leader Juan-Antonio Flecha.

Edgar Laurence Gray - born on this day in 1906 and known as Dunc - won a bronze medal for the 1000m time trial at the 1928 Olympics. This was the first Olympic medal ever won by an Australian cyclist.

Other cyclists born on this day: Alfred Achermann (Switzerland, 1959); Li Yan (China, 1978); Arles Castro (Colombia, 1979); Karl Barton (Great Britain, 1937); Wiktor Hoechsmann (Poland, 1894, died 1977); Kazuaki Sasaki (Japan, 1967); Vyacheslav German (Belarus, 1972); Monty Southall (Great Britain, 1907, died 1993); Vatche Zadourian (Lebanon, 1974); Syd Cozens (Great Britain, 1908, died 1985); Hans Lienhart (Austria, 1960); Rafael Narváez (Colombia, 1950); Jacinta Coleman (New Zealand, 1974).

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