Happy birthday to Michel Pollentier, who was born on this day in 1951.
The Belgian rider is best known for winning the 1977 Giro d’Italia ahead of Francesco Moser and Gianbattista Baronchelli, both of Italy.
In other Grand Tour events, Pollentier finished 3rd in the 1979 Vuelta a Espana behind Joop Zoetemelk of Holland and Francisco Galdos of Spain, followed by a 2nd place finish in the 1982 Vuelta a Espana, behind Marino Lejarreta of Spain.
Pollentier also won the Tour of Flanders Classic in 1980.
Pollentier’s career was not without controversy however.
After unleashing a vicious attack along the climb of Alpe d’Huez during the 1978 Tour de France that saw him claim both the stage victory and overall race leadership, Pollentier returned to this room to rig a contraption that carried a fake urine sample.
When he was caught with the fake sample, he was promptly kicked out of the race by officials and suspended for two months.
The incident took away most of Pollentier’s credibility in international cycling, and following his last race in 1984, he opened up a tire shop and later founded a cycling school.
In the book, “Seigneurs et Forcats du Velo” by Olivier Dazat, Pollentier is quoted as saying that he and another named Belgian cycling champion of that era had trouble after their careers because of drugs they had taken while racing.
Dazat quotes him as saying, “I’ve never hesitated to confess that I spent three weeks under the surveillance of Dr Dejonckheere at the St-Joseph clinic at Ostend and that after treatment… I stayed under his control for another two years. Why hide it? It’s impossible to come out of a situation like that without the help of a doctor.’
Nowadays, Pollentier resides around his hometown of Diksmuide, Belgium, where he occasionally reports on cycling for Belgian media.
Gelukkige verjaardag Michel!
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