Happy Birthday Chris Froome
The shortest palmares so far in the birthday series but I don’t think we will be saying that in a few years time. Froome’s rise from the obscurity of racing in Kenya is a worthy backstory to what could be the biggest marquee in the pro ranks over the next decade. A relentlessly driven, relentlessly polite man, Froome seems to balance the fire and ice needed to be successful champion and a well-repected person.
Happy Birthday Wiggo
- TdF Winner – 2012
- Quadruple Olympic Gold Medallist
- Six time track World Champion
Wiggins’ transition from Olympic track star to TdF winner, and his perceived gentlemanly attitude to racing, won him many French fans in 2012. Back in the UK he was loved for his unconventional podium speeches, his Mod style and for finally winning the Tour for Britain at the 99th edition. A supreme athlete when he focuses on a goal, he may yet have another career-defining moment up his sleeve.
Happy Birthday Zonzon
- World Champion – 1954
- Tour de France Winner – 1953, ’54, ’55
- Paris-Roubaix – 1956
- Milan-San Remo – 1951
- Ronde van Vlaanderen- 1955
- Giro de Lombardia – 1951
France’s first post-war cycling hero, the elder and more successful of the two Bobet brothers was also the first rider to win the Tour de France three times in succession. His memory will be eternally wedded to the ‘Casse Desert’ section of the Col d’Izoard climb; a cruel, empty area of white rock and scree on the Southern approach, which he conquered twice to take the Maillot Jaune on route to overall victory.
Henri Desgrange – 31.01.1865 – 16.08.1940
- Hour Record – 1893
- Editor L’Auto newspaper – 1900 – 1940
- Creator of Le Tour de France – 1903
Desgrange is rightly seen as the father of the Tour. Latching onto an idea of one of his correspondents – Geo. Lefevre – to help boost circulation, he set his newspaper firmly behind the creation of what quickly became Le Grand Boucle. Famously harsh on the riders of the early years, he set the tone for the endeavour as one of grand ambition and epic suffering. His words make clear his thinking: “The ideal Tour would be a Tour in which only one rider survived the ordeal.”
Happy Birthday Triple Crown Winner Stephen Roche
- World Champion – 1987
- TdF Winner – 1987
- Giro D’Italia Winner – 1987
Roche climbed to the very summit of the cycling world when he capped off his Annus Mirabilis with the World Championship win. Like his contemporary Greg Lemond, his boyish looks and baby blue eyes belied a fiercely competitive nature, which was shown best that season when he usurped the leader’s jersey in the Giro from his teammate Roberto Visentini. His resolve and strength of will was again shown in the Tour when he miraculously clawed back a minute and half on Pedro Delgado on the slopes of La Plagne to set up his final victory a few days later. Despite slipping into unconsciousness after he crossed the line, when he came round and was asked if he was alright he was still able to quip, “Yes, but I am not ready for a woman straight away.” The World Championship race was won somewhat fortuitously when Roche, in the mix only to support his team mate Sean Kelly, covered a break that none of the other favourites followed. He broke away again and was able to celebrate his victory.
Roche’s Triple Crown can be seen as being won by firstly guile, secondly strength and then with a touch of luck at the end. That sounds about right to me.
Happy Birthday Blaireau
- World Champion – 1980
- TdF Winner – 1978, ’79, ’81, ’82, ’85
- Giro D’Italia Winner – 1980, ’82, ’85
- L-B-L – 1977, ’80; Lombardia – 1979, ’84
Sporting crash-blackened eyes and baring his teeth in that familiar set-jawed snarl, The Badger takes on all-comers and ends up on top again in ’85