Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cyclist card #3 Gino Bartali

Gino Bartali was born in Ponte a Ema, Florence, Italy, 18 July 1914. He was a war hero and a champion road cyclist. He won five Grand Tour titles including the Giro d’Italia three times and the Tour de France twice. His second and last Tour de France victory in 1948 gave him the largest winning gap in the race, over 26 minutes.

Gino Bartali (http://www.cyclinghalloffame.com)
Although nicknamed “Gino the Pious”, Bartali was ruthless on the road. Early in his career, two famed Italian sprinters tried to box him in at the finish of a road race. Instead of going around them, he rode right between them, causing all three to crash in a bloody mess. After that, no one tried to box in Gino.

Bartali was a good climber and a pioneer of derailleur gears. He won the mountains jersey competition in the Giro d’Italia a record seven times. His style was unusual: he rarely danced on the pedals and often stayed in the saddle throughout a 15 km climb. When others attacked, he stayed in the saddle but changed up gear, to a sprocket three teeth smaller. He rode smoothly on mountains but every now and then freewheeled, always with his right foot lowered with his weight on it. Then a second or two later he would start pedalling again. See more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gino_Bartali

Bartali was the first rider to win the Tour de France overall title and mountains jersey in one year, 1938. He repeated the same feat ten years later in 1948, the year in which he won seven stages. Winning in 1948 was for him a simple formality. Not only was he the best climber, at the age of 34, but he was also the fastest man on the flat. Ten years after his first Parc des Princes lap of honour he rode another with the victor's bouquet. Gino could feel really proud, for he had won seven stages! And he won them in the heroic manner of the legendary giants of yesteryear Tours. He took the opening stage, then two in succession entering the Pyrenees, then a great climax of three successive Alpine stages.

Bartali's rivalry with Fausto Coppi divided Italy. Bartali, conservative, was venerated in the rural, agrarian south, while Coppi, more worldly, secular, innovative in diet and training, was hero of the industrial north. Bartali's long standing battle with Fausto Coppi resulted in epic physical struggles in the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Milan-San Remo, and Tour of Lombardy.

The movie "Gino Bartali – L’intramontabile" follows Gino Bartali’s life as one of the great Italian Cycling Champions. Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi were the two main Italian protagonists of the 40's and 50's. The cyclist's personal lives were followed closely since they were on the same level as movie stars in Italy.

Gino Bartali died of a heart attack Florence, 5 May 2000. The prime minister, Giuliano Amato, sent condolences. Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission, called him "a symbol of the most noble sportsmanship." The Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) called two days of mourning and silences were observed before sports events.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6/3/12 18:53

    "Bartali rescued Jews during the war - Tribute to the Italian champion on Holocaust Memorial Day


    One of the greatest champions in the history of cycling, Gino Bartali, could be made one of the “Righteous” in Israel. Almost 70 years after the events, and twelve years after his death, evidence is finally coming to light of his hitherto unknown actions during the Second World War, which helped to save the lives of 800 Jews.

    In 1943 Bartali, who had already won the Tour de France once and the Giro d’Italia twice, was assigned to the traffic police by the fascist regime, before leaving the job on 8 September. That was when he went underground, choosing to help persecuted Jews by smuggling identity photos to a convent that produced counterfeit papers. As far as the soldiers who guarded the road between Florence and San Quirico, near Assisi, were concerned, Bartali was merely on a 380-km training run. In fact, valuable documents were hidden inside the frame and saddle of his bicycle."