The nature vs nurture debate involves the discussion of the influence of heredity and environment in the upbringing of a child. You may have heard that you will turn into your mother or father one day, but for some this may not be a bad thing, especially if your parents were champion cyclists themselves. In this blog we take a look at several riders who have a rich line of cycling blood in their family tree. Are champions born or created over time? We’ll leave the answer up to you as we take a look at several riders and their cycling DNA traits.
The Irish rider has been crowned national road cycling champion twice, as well as claiming various top 10 finishes in all three Grand Tours. The 28 year old was recently snapped up by Bjarne Riis to ride for Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank after having ridden for French teams for the last 10 years. In terms of cycling genealogy, Nicolas’ father and uncle were both professional cyclists with his father the second rider ever to win a Triple Crown of victories (Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and the world road race championships).
Andy and Frank Schleck
Andy and Frank Schleck have both had successful careers in the pro peloton. Part of this could be attributed to their father, Johnny Schleck who was a professional cyclist himself. Johnny took part in 7 Tour de Frances between 1965 and 1975. Schleck senior was a domestique for the 1968 winner Jan Janssen, and the 1973 winner Luis Ocana. But the cycling heritage doesn’t stop their. Frank and Andy’s grandfather also used to race, competing in the 1930s as an independent racer in various events across the globe. This means the Schleck family name has been associated with pro cycling for around 80 years!
Christian Vande Velde
Christian Vande Velde has ridden professionally since 1998. The rider from Illinois, USA, is the son of John Vande Velde. John was pretty handy on a bike himself being a former US Olympian who competed in the individual and team pursuit disciplines on the track at the 1968 Mexico Games and in Munich in 1972. He also claimed several national championships and mainly specialised in six day track racing. Other accomplishments include admission into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame.
The British track rider may have been heartbroken at the disqualification during the Olympic team sprint last week, but her father Max is still proud of her. Victoria owes much of her love of cycling to her father Max Pendleton, who was always a keen cyclist and a former British national grass track cycling champion.
This year’s TdF winner is the son of former track and road cyclist Gary Wiggins. Gary was an Australian national track champion cyclist during the 70s and 80s. He represented Australia during the 1977 track world championships winning gold in the kilo and team pursuit. G.Wiggins was renowned for his turn of pace but moved from the boards to asphalt in order to pursue a professional career and moved to Belgium to pursue his racing career. Unfortunately his marriage with Bradley’s mother broke down and young Bradley had little contact with his dad.
Finally we come to Taylor Phinney. For such a young rider, Taylor has already had a very successful career winning various junior and national titles on both the track and road, wearing pink during this year’s Giro and coming 4th in both the road race and time trial at the Olympics. This rider has shown great potential and big things are expected from this young American in the future. But with the gene pool which Taylor came from, it’s no surprise that he’s made it where he is today. Taylor’s father is Davis Phinney who rode professional for 7-Eleven Cycling Team where he claimed a Tour de France stage victory. He also won a bronze medal in the Men’s 100 km Team Time Trial at the 1984 in Los Angeles. Taylor’s mother, Connie Carpenter Phinney, was also an Olympian who won the a gold medal in the cycling road race at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, as well as claiming twelve U.S. national championships. Connie also competed in the 1972 winter Olympics in the speed skating event. So just to recap Taylor’s parents both won gold at the Olympics and they both had very successful cycling careers, no pressure for Taylor then…
So there you have it, a quick look at the family links in the world of cycling. Of course there are many others out there that we have missed. Which do you know of? Is nature or nurture more important when it comes to producing cyclists of the highest calibre? Do you owe your cycling skills to your parents? Let us know in the comments section below.