Born on this day in 1896, Italian road cycle racer Federico Gay. He won four stages in the 1924 Giro d’Italia, and one stage in the 1922 Tour de France. He rode the Tour de France twice, finishing 11th in 1922 and 10th  in 1925. His best result in the Giro d’Italia was in 1924, when he finished second in the overall classification. He competed in two events at the 1920 Summer Olympics – the men’s individual road race in which he finished 16th and the team road race, where the Italian’s were placed 5th.  Federico died aged 92 in Torino on 15th April 1989


Noemi Cantele, who was born on this day in 1981, is a professional road bicycle racer. In 2012, she signed for the Astana Be Pink team in women’s elite professional events on the National Racing Calendar and UCI Women’s World Cup. She has been Italian road and time trial champion and a double World championship medallist. She has competed at three different Olympic Games. In 2004 at Athens she was placed 13th in the Individual road race and four years later in Beijing she was 15th in the same event.  During the London Games in 2012 she competed in both the Individual road race and the time trial, coming 34th and 22nd respectively. During a 2011 interview she stated that she felt very lucky to have the privilege of being able to aspire to achieve great goals, which is not for everyone and that there was a great difference between those who succeed and those that don’t. This she considered was not just a matter of talent or effort but also opportunities and knowing how to take those opportunities.  She was also aware of the “vast gulf of inequality that exists between the genders in elite cycling. “There are no equal opportunities between men and women,” she said, “it doesn’t even exist among the women. Our movement gives more than it receives. I’m talking about structures, spaces, especially in newspapers or on TV, and I also speak of money. The differences are abysmal,” Noemi continued. “The minimum wage for a man is equivalent to one of the highest salaries of a woman. And the tables of prizes for the races are ridiculous: the relationship between a man and woman is twenty to one. But in tennis it’s almost identical.” Despite the massive gender inequality though, for Cantele there was never any question of her choosing to pursue a career on two wheels. “As a child cycling for me was a dream, then it became a hobby, today it’s a profession,” she explained. “Passion and Profession. When I realised that there was a talent, I believed, and every day I lived and struggled in pursuit of my objectives and targets.”


Australian track cylist and rower, who represented her native country in both sports, Amy Elizabeth Gillett (née Safe) died on this day, aged 29, in 2005, when a driver crashed into the Australian squad of cyclists with whom she was training in Germany. Born in 1976 Amy was educated at Annesley College. She was a world champion junior rower winning gold in the coxless pair in the Junior World Championships in 1993 and the women’s single scull in 1994, she came 5th in the single scull in the Nations Cup held in Paris the same year. At 20, Amy was a member of the Australian women’s eight at the Atlanta Olympics. She was coached by Simon Gillett during her rowing career and married him in January 2004.  After failing to make the Australian rowing team for the Sydney Olympics she quit the sport, but was identified as a cyclist with potential. In 2002 she was first in the Individual Pursuit Australian Titles and between 2002 and 2005 was a member of the Australian Institute of Sport elite cycling squad and represented Australia in the 2002 and 2003 Cycling World Cups. While she was not a member of the Australian cycling team for the 2004 Athens Olympics, her results during 2005 were steadily improving including a third place in the 2005 Road Time Trial Australian Open Titles.  She was rated as one of the top 100 women road cyclists at the time of her death and Australian cycling officials had identified her as a potential medallist in the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Amy died after a crash near Zeulenroda, Germany, when a young German driver lost control of her car and drove head first into six members of the Australian women’s cycling squad, who were preparing for the Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen stage race. Five of Gillett’s Australian team mates suffered injuries, most very serious. Katie Brown, Lorian Graham, Kate Nichols, Alexis Rhodes and Louise Yaxley were taken immediately to hospital, with Rhodes and Yaxley suffering major trauma. Graham and Brown had incurred fractures and Nichols had torn tendons requiring surgery.


Victor Hopkins was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on this day in 1904.  Born to a single mother who gave him up for adoption when he was a one-year-old, he was adopted by the Hopkins family, but both parents died before he was nine, and Victor grew up living in the Davenport (Iowa) Children’s Orphan Home. There, while delivering papers on his bicycle, he was discovered as a cyclist by one of the top riders in Iowa. Worthington Mitten, the club coach and a famous cyclist from an earlier era, asked Vic to join the team. In less than a year, he went on to set a new Amateur World Record for the five mile time trial (11:22). The chance to compete in the 1924 Paris Olympics inspired Victor.  He trained by riding across the country to the qualifying races.  For the preliminary Olympic road trials, Vic pedalled his single-speed bicycle from Davenport, Iowa, to Milwaukee, where he raced the 116-mile time trial and qualified for the final three weeks later.  He then rode back home to Davenport, packed again, and proceeded to pedal the 1,000 miles (over mostly dirt roads) to reach the Olympic trials final in New Jersey.  He won the race by 20 seconds. In late June of that year, Victor and his six teammates set out for the Paris Olympics aboard the U.S.S. America. The 1924 Olympic games, romanticised by the film Chariots of Fire, were far from ideal for the US cycling team – they slept on the floor of a cattle barn during their stay in Paris. The Olympic road races of the era were long (117 mile) individual time trials. Victor had the third-fastest time at an intermediate checkpoint, but crashed into a railway crossing gate on a descent, breaking his wheel.  After a very slow wheel repair Victor continued, but could only manage 59th at the finish, with the win going to Armand Blanchonnet of France. After competing in the 1924 Olympics, Victor signed a contract as a six-day racer in the United States with John Chapman, who controlled professional cycling in the US in the 1920s. In 1926 he won the US Pro Championship despite missing many of the races after breaking his collarbone. He raced in Europe in 1928 and from 1931-33. In 1932, Victor returned to Paris, with the intention of racing the Tour de France, which would have made him the first American to do so, while Victor did get a racing license, he isn’t on the official Tour list, and there is no hard evidence that he participated at all. There is some speculation that he abandoned the race early, or that he changed his mind and competed in other French races that were going on that summer. After his return to the States he continued to compete in six-days in 1933 and 1934 and then retired.  Victor died, aged 65 on 8th December 1969 in Nutley, New Jersey.


Cyclist Peter Smessaert who was born in Belgium on this day in 1908, emigrated to the United States as a youth. He was runner-up in the 1928 US Championship road race. After the 1928 Olympics, where he represented the Belgium-American Athletic Club, he and his family settled in Georgia, where Peter became a top trap shooter. He was a member of the National Rifle Association, Amateur Trap Shooters Association, McHenry Gun Club, and the Professional Bike Riders Association. Peter worked for many years as a stationary engineer, retiring in 1973, he died aged 92 in Baldwin, Georgia on 22nd November 2000.


Fabrice Colas, French track cyclist and a four-time world champion, was born today in 1964 in Rueil-Malmaison. Fabrice first drew attention to himself in 1984, when he won the bronze medal in the 1000m time trial on the track at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. His greatest successes, four world championship titles came in tandem events with Frédéric Magné : 1987 in Vienna, 1988 in Ghent, 1989 in Lyon and 1994 in Palermo , where the tandem discipline was held for the last time at World Championships. At the World Cup 1991 in Stuttgart, he finished second in the sprint and third in the Keirin . In 1993 he became French champion in the sprint. In 1986, Fabrice tested positive for anabolic steroids, but without any known consequences.


Daniel Amardeilh, French road racer and French amateur champion on the road in both 1984 and 1985 was born on this day in 1959. He also won the 1978  Boucles de la Cère, and in 1982, achieved his greatest victory, winning the Tour des Pyrénées. In 1985 he raced the Tour de lâ Avenir, after winning the French Championship. He placed eighth and never turned professional, ending his cycling career after that season.