Cycling legends along time

Did the careers of Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx overlap? For how many years were rivals Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi? When anyone talk me about Alfredo Binda, which period are they referring to?

It could be basic questions that someone asks himself when they start, as a fan, in the world of cycling, but perhaps there were also some that even the most involved have failed to answer. The chart presented below has the simple objective of placing the historical legends of cycling on a timeline of more than a century.

An objective methodology has been followed based on the historical ranking published by ProCyclingStats.com, selecting the first 100 riders with cut-off date of September 9th, 2019.

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Miquel Poblet, el debutant que va fer història vestint-se de groc

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El “bebè de Montcada” és l’únic català i el primer espanyol en vestir el ‘Maillot Jaune’ que celebra, en aquest 2019, 100 anys d’història

Miquel Poblet, amb el mallot groc, donant la mà al futur vencedor d’aquella edició, Louison Bobet (1955)

Quan arribo a l’habitació de Poblet amb Daudé, està ja al llit menjant-se tranquil·lament una melmelada i llegint una edició del «France Soir» d’aquesta tarda. A la primera plana hi ha un títol ben gran que diu: «Poblet (Espanya), vencedor a Dieppe». Li pregunto si està animat per defensar el seu jersei de líder.

-Ja comprendrà que no em puc fer moltes il·lusions davant els contrincants que tinc, però avui m’he sentit bé i si les meves cames segueixen responent, potser els serà més difícil del que es figuren el desbancar-me. Llàstima això de Masip – afegeix -, marxava com un bòlid, però de no sobrevenir la l’avaria en el canvi de marxes, segur que arriba amb el primer gran grup i vencem en la classificació per equips de nacions.

Criden a l’habitació, un fotògraf, després un altre, i després dotzenes. Tots volen retratar el, per a ells, inesperat i intrèpid vencedor. Li demanen el ram de flors i altres peces simbòliques de la victòria.

-Tot ho té el senyor Puig -em diu Poblet.

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L’era Cañardo a la “Volta” s’inicià a la primera Collada de Toses (1928)

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Fou en la desena edició de la “Volta”, la prova anava millorant i presentava avenços respecte els anys anteriors: el recorregut passava a tenir 9 etapes i arribava, per primer cop, als Pirineus. Els pronòstics se centraven en dos nacionals: Muç Miquel (de 25 anys, guanyador de la “Volta” del 1924 i 1925) i Mariano Cañardo (de 22 anys) -ambdós membres de l’equip del FC Barcelona- que en edicions anteriors demostraren estar al nivell per disputar la victòria i que ara passaven a primer pla després de la baixa, a última hora, del vencedor en les dues darreres edicions, el francès Victor Fontan.

Cartell de la “Volta” 1928 – Font: Volta a Catalunya

Cañardo havia aconseguit imposar-se a l’esprint en les dues primeres etapes amb finals a Tortosa i Reus. Perdé el liderat en la tercera etapa després de patir una punxada a Lleida que li provocà la pèrdua del contacte amb el grup de favorits i un marge desfavorable de 2’50” en la meta de Tàrrega respecte el nou líder, Muç Miquel. La quarta etapa fou històrica per la “Volta” en quant a que significà, tot i l’absència de grans ports, la primera arribada als Pirineus amb la ubicació de la meta a Puigcerdà, un poble que ja era conegut per ser destinat a l’estiueig. L’etapa no provocà diferències entre els favorits amb un vencedor sortit de la fuga, Carlo Porzio.

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El Parc de la Ciutadella (Barcelona) acollí la primera cursa ciclista femenina a Espanya

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Ahir fou un dia important i de reivindicació per la dona en la celebració del Dia Internacional de la Dona Treballadora. En el món del ciclisme veiem com, poc a poc, la secció femenina va traient el cap i fent-se amb el seu espai, tot i que la igualtat total encara és lluny, s’han fet alguns avenços (equips WorldTour femenins, curses femenines, salaris mínims, igualació de premis en competicions UCI, etc).

Espanya també està arrencant per la seva part i ja hi compta amb cinc equips femenins (UCI Women’s Teams): el Bizkaia-Durango, l’Eneicue Cycling Team, el Movistar Team, el Sopela Women’s Team i el recent català Massi-Tactic Women Team. També en quant a curses, van sorgint categories femenines al calendari com la Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta, la Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, la Vuelta a Burgos Femenina, la Durango-Durango o d’algunes noves com la Donostiako Klasikoa.

Però quin seria el primer antecedent a Espanya? En l’època de la instauració de la II República a Espanya, les dones s’interessaren per tot tipus d’esport i el ciclisme no en va ser una excepció. A l’agost del 1932, l’organització Sport Ciclista Català -fundada l’any 1912- va decidir organitzar, cap a final d’any, una “cursa ciclista per a senyoretes”.

La primera cursa femenina – Font: Arxiu Sport Ciclista Català / Dossier CSD Febrer 2017

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Recorregut de la Volta a Catalunya 2019

Avui dia 30 de gener s’ha presentat a l’INEFC de Barcelona (Montjuïc) el recorregut de Volta a Catalunya 2019. Aquesta edició significa la prèvia a la número 100, un número que, en voltes per etapes, només han assolit el Tour de França i el Giro d’Itàlia, convertint la ronda catalana en la tercera més antiga del món.

Tot i que encara queden 2 mesos, alguns ciclistes ja han anunciat la seva participació a la “Volta” com a part del seu programa de la temporada. Hi serà present el campió del món, Alejandro Valverde, junt amb Marc Soler per part del Movistar. També com a joves promeses hi assistiran Enric Mas i Remco Evenepoel del Deceuninck-QuickStep, per la perla belga la ronda catalana significarà el seu debut a l’UCI World Tour. Altres figures destacades són Romain Bardet, Thibaut Pinot, Fabio Aru, Dan Martin, Thomas De Gendt, Tim Wellens, Tony Gallopin, Miguel Ángel López o Steven Kruijswijk.

Etapa Inici Final Km
1 Calella Calella 164
2 Mataró Sant Feliu de Guíxols 180
3 Sant Feliu de Guíxols Vallter 2000/Setcases 179
4 Llanars La Molina (Alp) 150
5 Puigcerdà Sant Cugat del Vallès 188
6 Valls Vila-seca 174
7 Barcelona (Montjuïc) Barcelona (Montjuïc) 143

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Vuelta 2018: The youngest podium in a GT since 1965

Vuelta a España 2018 podium composed by Simon Yates, Enric Mas and Miguel Ángel López is the youngest one in a Grand Tour since 1965, being the 21st (out of 278 GT’s) in all history, and the youngest one in a Vuelta since 1936, that is, since 2nd edition. These three riders have an average age of 24,8 years old. The youngest GT podium in all history was in Tour de France 1904 with an average age of 22.4.

The oldest GT podium was in 2013 Vuelta España as Chris Horner (almost 42 years old) won it. He was accompanied by Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde averaging 34.7 years old.

Vuelta 2018 podium with Simon Yates (26), Enric Mas (23) and Miguel Ángel López (24)

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About life’s new opportunities: David Lozano

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Some days after his stage victory at Tour of Rwanda (2.2), in last August, I had the opportunity to have a coffee with David Lozano (1988) in Terrassa -our hometown- to which, by the way, I thank him for inviting me. Lozano enjoyed a few days of popularity after getting a victory of great value for him and his team, it was his first one as a professional rider and the first one for Team Novo Nordisk since 2015. Lozano tells that the African event largely exceed his expectations and confesses that he did not come very motivated but that he came to the race with some objectives. He had prepared it in Andorra in order to adapt to the altitude of the country. Moreover, he did not finish the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic, a week before traveling to Rwanda, as a precaution as he complained about the poor conditions of the circuit.

Fighting for overall classification was clearly impossible, in the second stage, he was in the main break of the day, but his breakaway rivals attacked him incessantly, “it’s another kind of racing, they do not manage his efforts, they give all or nothing”. There were only 5 riders per team, but the leader that came up the day of the break, and final winner, Samuel Mugisha, had the support of his team… and that of five more! Lozano justifies it: “A place to participate in the Tour de l’Avenir and an invitation to the Colorado Classic were at stake for Rwanda”. The amount of spectators was one of the things that surprised him the most: “I’ve never seen so many people cheering, not even in the Tour de France”. A few months ago, the UCI encouraged African countries to organize the World Championships for 2025 and Rwanda is among the possible candidates.

David Lozano wins Tour of Rwanda stage 7 in Kigali after an attack in the final climb – Photo credit: Kigali Today

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GP de Plouay

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(Based on an article I published in Volata #5)

The “Bretagne Classic – Ouest-France” (formerly, “GP de Plouay”) presumes to be the only French race in the top category that is not organized by the giant “Amaury Sport Organization”, an entity that hides even more power than the governing cycling body, the UCI.

Like many cycling events, the “Grand Prix de Plouay” has also the support of a newspaper, in this case a regional one, “Ouest-France”. The birth of this modest race takes us to 1931, when Dr. Berthy, a doctor at the Tour de France, became the new president of the organizing committee of the Plouay festivities. Taking advantage of his passion in cycling and taking advantage of his influences and contacts within the world of cycling, he decided to create the “Grand Prix International de la ville de Plouay”. The friendship that he established with some riders helped him to attract them and that they were part of the departure of this classic.

The race circuit, with the côte de Ty Marrec as the main element of the race, is named Jean-Yves Perron, organizer of the race between 1975 and 1999, who died in February 2000 after being the victim of cancer when he was 53 years old. He was the one who, since joining the committee, saved the race of his disappearance. In 1975 the race hit rock bottom, in that edition there were only nineteen riders registered, one of them was Cyrille Guimard, the great favorite, because the start-list did not present better candidates. Even so the Loire rider, which did not miss the forecasts and ended up winning, claimed to be “the hardest race I had ever played”, because without a team and full of independents, “it was an 18 against 1 race”.

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Is Grand Tour quality of accommodations the same for all teams?

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More than three thousand kilometers around a country in 25 days, counting the previous days and the rest days too, require the organizers a hard planning of the accommodations of the 22 teams with their riders, directors and assistants, in addition to those of all the organizational team and the race staff. Resting is a key element for riders after each stage and the hotel becomes, in addition to the place where riders should sleep a minimum of 8 hours in order to recover, in a space of coexistence, disconnection, reflection and recovery. Of course, the quality will be different depending on the place assigned by the organizer, taking into account, also, the additional kilometers of transfer that the trip to the hotel may involve.

Team Sky, always innovative in this kind of things, tried to avoid the negative effects that could produce to their riders a bad choice of accommodation or those negative effects that suppose changes of bed day after day. The British team took a motorhome to the 2015 Giro d’Italia, in order that his leader, Richie Porte, sleep there after each stage (one of those “marginal gains”). After complaints from several teams, the UCI issued a ban the following month:

Art. 2.2.010, UCI Regulations: “In all road stage races on the international calendar, the organisers must cover the subsistence expenses of the teams from the night before the start to the final day; riders must stay in the hotels provided by the organiser throughout the entire duration of the race”

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