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Coppi & Bartali

Mar 10, 2009
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A couple of observations in random order.

Coppi wasn't Ligurian, but Piedmontese. The confusion may arise from many Piedmontese towns having "Ligure" in their names, like Novi Ligure. He was from Castellania though.

Live fast, die young doesn't apply to Fausto only. Both of them lost their brothers in cycling accidents. Fausto's brother Serse was a pro (winning a Paris-Roubaix too ex-aequo with a strange ruling by the jury). He fell in the sprint of the 1951 Giro del Piemonte and died soon after. Gino's younger brother Giulio didn't reach pro status. He was racing the Regional Amateur Championship when descending under heavy rain towards Florence a car struck him. He died in hospital not yet 20 yo, in 1936, about a week after Gino's first Giro success.

Gino may have been taken as an example by the Fascist government, but he spent the war years helping out Jews, cycling back-and-forth transporting faked ID documents hidden in his bicycle.

The Bartali - Coppi rivalry was largely built by the media, starting with that famous 1940 Giro. Then, after the war, the whole of Italy was almost evenly divided into two camps, the Catholics and the Communists, and it was just normal to make them into the champions of the two "parties", Gino the Catholic and Fausto the Sinner (having an extraconiugal affair, the famous Dama Bianca, in those times was a no-no). But in reality they always were good friends - and sincerely admired each other.

This article focused on Coppi more - but don't forget some other time to tell the story of how Bartali saved Italy from the Communist revolution and takeover! (well, maybe not exactly... Anyway a reference to the 1948 Tour and Togliatti's attempted murder).
I can add that this part...

And it's May 19 - on which the 10th stage of this year's Giro d'Italia was held - that was designated by race organiser RCS Sport as a celebration of the day that captured the imagination of the Italian public on that June day. Coppi's stage win in Pinerolo came after conquering five tough mountain passes, most of which were ridden solo, and at the finish he held an advantage of 11 minutes 52 seconds over Bartali.

He climbed the Passo di Rolle, Pordoi and Gardena solo in an attack that encapsulated the spirit of Italian cycling. That mystique was continued by countrymen such as Felice Gimondi and Marco Pantani. On that day in 1949 Coppi's panache had a 'victim': Bartali. Whilst it was Adolfo Leoni who wore the maglia rosa when riders set off from Cuneo, Bartali was Coppi's main rival.

...is not correct. Rolle, Pordoi and Gardena are in the Dolomites. The correct ones is Col de Vars and Col d'Izoard and one more that I don't know (Sestriere or Agnello?).