Great cycle racing events of the past
1989 Tour de France
The oldest of the Grand Tours, the Tour de France is considered the most difficult cycle race, where cycling careers are made. 1989 was no exception, when the Tour experienced an incredible feat by American rider Greg LeMond, whose participation had initially looked unlikely after a near-fatal hunting accident two years earlier. Despite this, LeMond managed to stay abreast of race leader Laurent Fignon, keeping within a minute of the Frenchman's time. The victory ultimately came down to the final day when LeMond was able to pull out the fastest time trial in recorded history, riding at an average speed of 34.52 mph. LeMond's determination on the 15-mile route from Versailles to Paris saw him beat Fignon, despite the Frenchman starting with a 50-second lead. Greg LeMond stormed his way to victory with a meagre 8-second margin overall – the smallest in the history of the Tour – to scoop the honour of being the first American to win the Tour de France.
1956 Giro d'Italia
The second most prestigious of the Grand Tours, the Giro d'Italia is not for the faint-hearted, and in 1956 Fiorenzo Magni was the rider who made all the headlines despite not taking first place. Magni was involved in a severe crash during stage 12 of the Tour, breaking his collarbone; although this would have signalled the end for many a rider, Magni was never one to give up.
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He continued with his collarbone bandaged and an ingenious plan to affix a rubber tube to the handlebars of his bicycle, which he could steer using his teeth. During stage 16 Magni faced yet another collision when he was unable to brake properly on a descent, resulting in a broken humerus in his upper arm. Magni was put into an ambulance before awaking and reportedly demanding to be allowed to rejoin the race. It was then on stage 20, when many riders had abandoned due to snow and ice, that Magni kept going, finishing the Giro in second place, yet still an admirable 3 minutes ahead of third position.
2012 London Olympics
London Olympics are so far the pinnacle of what British cycling has
achieved over the past two decades. With Team GB netting 12 medals,
8 of which were gold, the London Olympics quite literally brought
home British success in the sport. The London Olympics served to
honour existing careers and forge new ones, seeing the retirement of
Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, while looking forward to the new
generation of racers including Laura Trott, Jason Kenny and Ed
Clancy in track cycling. Bradley Wiggins' gold medal in the
individual time trial of the men's road race also capitalised on his
tremendous win in the Tour de France earlier in the summer.
Meanwhile Chris Hoy signed off from his professional cycling career
as the most decorated British Olympian to date, with 6 gold medals
to his name after winning 2 in the keirin and team sprint.
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