Jure Robic "The Animal"

Robic won the Race Across America in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010 a gruelling 3,000-mile coast-to-coast sprint. Once the riders begin, there are no scheduled breaks until they reach the finishing line – so an ability to go without sleep is the main determinant of who wins. During the 2004 race Robic cycled an average of 350 miles a day to complete the race in just eight days, claiming only eight hours sleep, and pedalled into the record books by covering 518 miles in 24 hours.

Towards the end of the Race Across America, he was known to weep uncontrollably and was sometimes to be seen hopping off his bike to fight imaginary assailants – bears, wolves or aliens – which turned out to be mailboxes. He imagined that cracks in the road were coded messages, and on one occasion became convinced he was being pursued by the Mujahedeen on horseback; his support team encouraged him to ride faster, pretending that they could see them too. "Sometimes during races he gets off his bike and walks towards us in the follow car, very angry," recalled a team member in 2006. "We lock the doors."

Jure Robic died on September 24 when he collided with a car on a mountain road near his home in Jesenice.

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