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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, December 31, 2016

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

No one should be ashamed to admit they are wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that they are wiser today than they were yesterday. - Alexander Pope

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Ferdi Kübler dies, was winner of 1950 Tour de France

One of the greatest riders of cycling's golden age, Ferdinand "Ferdi" Kübler, has died at the age of 97.

While best known for winning the 1950 Tour de France and the 1951 World Road Championships, Kübler's list of pro wins is huge. He won more the 400 pro races, including winning the Tour of Switzerland and Swiss pursuit championships three times each. He could handle the classics and won both La Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège.

The early 1950s was a golden age for Switzerland. Swiss rider Hugo Koblet won the Giro d'Italia in 1950 and went on to win the Tour in 1951. Since then no Swiss rider has won the Tour de France.

The 1950 Tour de France was a wild one. Fausto Coppi was injured in the Giro and couldn't compete, so the Italian team was led by Gino Bartali. After he was involved in a scuffle with spectators in stage 11, Bartali abandoned, and insisted that all the other members of both Italian teams, including Fiorenzo Magni who was in yellow, also withdraw. They did, making Ferdy Kübler the new leader. Kübler was easily the strongest remaining rider and carried the lead to Paris.

I had the privilege of corresponding with Mr. Kübler about his career and he kindly answered questions I put to him about that incredible 1950 Tour. You can read it here.

Ferdi Kübler was a genuinely good guy and he will be missed.

FErdi Kubler

Heart problems force Gianni Meersman to retire

Gianni Meersman had signed to ride for Fortuneo-Vital Concept in 2017, moving from Etixx-Quick Step. His new team posted this unhappy news:

Gianni Meersman, a professional cyclist currently a member of the Etixx-Quick Step team, has decided to end his cycling career with immediate effect. Gianni Meersman, this year's double stage winner in the Tour of Spain, was due to ride for our team in 2017. It is with great sadness that we announce that the Belgian rider will not be part of our team next season. 

During a routine medical check-up, a cardiac arrhythmia and scar tissue were found in the 31-year-old Belgian rider. Additional tests then confirmed that they would pose a serious danger to his health if he continued to exercise his sport at high level, which forced him to make a difficult and dramatic decision to stop his career immediately.

Gainni Meersman

Gianni Meersman winning stage 5 of the 2016 Vuelta a España

Gianni Meersman  "When this abnormal cardiac evaluation was discovered a few weeks ago, it was obviously like a real thunderbolt. In the meantime, I had additional tests and scans, but they confirmed that this health risk would remain if I continued to ride at a high-level, so the specialists advised me to end my active career. Compared to my wife and daughter, who put everything aside during my career, I cannot and will not take such a risk. The bike was not only my profession but also my passion, and it is with much pain that I made that decision."

Emmanuel Hubert : "It is of course a blow to the team but it is primarily a huge blow to him. Gianni is an engaging boy and a great rider who quickly joined the team. He will not have the opportunity to wear our jersey and I think he is the first to be sorry. I spent a long time on the phone yesterday with him, he was very affected. Being a high-level sportsman is a special job, you have to know how to listen to your body. Cycling was putting his life in danger, he must not take any risk, it is obvious. I've known Gianni for six months, he's a fighter, he'll bounce back and I'll of course think about what we could do to help him….I wish him the best in the future."     

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