Wednesday 20 August 2014

Daily Cycling Facts 20.08.2014

On this day in 2013, managers of Euskaltel-Euskadi announced that they had begun the "orderly shut-down" of the team. Euskaltel, though not one of the most successful ProTour teams for much of its existence, had enjoyed enormous popularity since formation in 1994 - at least partially due to the infectious passion of their Basque fans.

Enrico Toti
Enrico Toti, who was posthumously
awarded the Medaglia d'oro
al Valore Militare
Enrico Toti, who was born in Rome on this day in 1882, worked on the railways until he lost his left leg in an accident when he was 24. He then took up cycling and, a year later, rode from Rome to Paris and via Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Lapland, Russia, Poland and back home again. Five years later, Toti set out on a new journey into Africa and rode through Egypt to Sudan, where the British colonial governors said he was putting himself in too much danger and made him return home. A year later, when the First World War broke out and Italy and the Austrian Empire became enemies, he tried to enlist in the army but was refused after being declared physically unfit.

So, he got on his bike and rode to the front line, became attached to several military units and served as an unofficial, unpaid civilian volunteer until he was forced to go back to Italy - and once he was home, he got back on his bike and rode back to the war again. This time he was unofficially enlisted in the 3rd Bersaglieri Bicycle Battalion and served with them until the 6th of August 1916, when he was fatally injured. Before dying, however, he summoned up the strength to sit upright and hurl his crutches at the enemy soldiers.

Daniel Martin
Daniel Martin
Daniel Martin, who was born in Tamworth, Great Britain on this day in 1986, may well have chain lubricant following in his veins rather than blood - he's the son of Olympic cyclist Neil Martin and Maria Roche (the sister of Stephen Roche). His first major success came in 2004 when he won the British Junior Championship, but he would later choose to represent Ireland. In 2006 he won a stage at the Tour de Grandview and another at the Giro della Valle d'Aosta, also taking second place overall at the latter, which earned him a traineeship with Slipstream for 2007; overall victory at the Tour des Pays de Savoie and other good results that year brought him his first full professional contract with the same team for the following year and he has repaid their faith by riding for them ever since.

In 2008, Martin won the Route du Sud and the Irish National Championships at Under-23 and Elite levels; in 2009 he was third at the Tour Méditerranéen, then completed his first Grand Tour (the Vuelta a Espana) and came a very impressive eighth at the Giro di Lombardia. He rode the Giro in 2010 and then, a year later, won his first Grand Tour stage - Stage 9 at the Vuelta, where was 13th overall and fourth in the King of the Mountains; he finished the season with second place at the Giro di Lombardia (cousin Nicolas Roche was 16th).

In 2012, he achieved fourth overall at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, sixth at theWaalse Pijl, fifth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and took three top ten stage finishes plus 35th place overall at the Tour, which prompted me to write on this blog "He is a rider who seems destined for great things; perhaps even a Grand Tour victory" - that victory came the following season, when he won Stage 9 at the Tour de France. Earlier in the year he had also won the Volta a Catalunya and Liège–Bastogne–Liège, later he would come second overall at the Tour of Beijing.

Samuel Dumoulin
Born at Vénissieux, France on this day in 1980, Samuel Dumoulin won the Under-23 Paris-Tours in 2001. Having won a National Novices Championship as far back as 1996, he joined La Française des Jeux as a trainee in September 2001, then signed his first professional contract with Jean Delatour for the following season. He stayed there for two years, winning three stages at the Tour de l'Avenir and the General Classification at the Tour de Normandie as well as competing in a Tour de France.

The next four years were spent with AG2r Prévoyance and he began getting his first good Tour results with them (though his 2004 attempt ended in disaster when he collided with a dog that had been allowed to run onto the road, crashing badly and having to sit out of racing for four months), finishing stages in the top ten on a number of occasions before switching in 2008 to Cofidis. That year, he won Stage 3 at the Tour, his only stage win in the race to date; in the following years he would win the Points competition at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (2009), the General Classification at Etoile de Bessèges (2010), Paris-Corrèze (2011) and the GP d'Overture in 2012.

In 2013, Dumoulin returned to AG2R (by then known as AG2R La Mondiale) with a two-year contract and won Stage 5a at the Etoile de Bessèges Alès, overall at Plumelec-Morbihan and picked up numerous other good results. He was second overall at the Tour du Haut Var and 90th at the Tour de France in 2014.

Ralf Hütter
Ralf Hütter
Born in Krefeld, West Germany on this day in 1946, Ralf Hütter has been an amateur cyclist since the 1970s and was placed in an induced coma following a serious crash in 1983. He is better known as the synthesizer-player, lead singer, sole original member and - so far as they have one - leader of Kraftwerk.

According to legend, when on tour Ralf would have the band's bus stop approximately 160km from every venue and would then cycle the rest of the way. It's also rumoured that his first words when he awoke from his coma were "Where is my bike?", though he himself claims this is not true.

Meifang Li, born in China on this day in 1978, won the road race at the Tour of Chongming Island in 2007 and 2008. 2007 was the first year that the race was held, 2008 was the last time that it was won by a Chinese rider.

Ned Overend
Edmund "Ned" Overend was born in Taipei but - as the son of a United States diplomat, holds US nationality. Over the course of his career, he has won a large number and great variety of different events including the World Mountain Bike Championship, six National MTB Championships, two editions of the XTERRA World MTB Championships, two editions of the Mount Evans Hill Climb and a large number of other races. At the time of writing, he is the captain of the Specialized Cross Country MTB team - but what's truly remarkable is that as he was born in 1955, is 57 years old.

Danielys Garcia, born in Valera on this day in 1986, was Venezuelan National Road Race Champion in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and National Time Trial Champion in 2008 and 2009. She took part in the road race at the 2008 Olympics, finishing in 54th place, and again in 2012 when she didn't finish.

Other cyclists born on this day: Damien Gaudin (France, 1986); Ashlee Ankudinoff (Australia, 1990); Casper Jørgensen (Denmark, 1985); Jon Unzaga (Spain, 1962); Boris Shpilevsky (USSR, 1982); Martin Santos (Guam, 1962); Kohei Yamamoto (Japan, 1983); Robert Vehe (USA, 1953); Josip Pokupec (Yugoslavia, 1913); Earl Godfrey (Bermuda, 1961); Andoni Ituarte (Venezuela, 1919); Stanley Smith (Barbados, 1952); Juan Moral (Spain, 1951); Carlos Espinoza (Peru, 1951); Otto Lehner (Switzerland, 1898, died 1977); Bernardo Arias (Peru, 1942).

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