2010 Giro d'Italia -
The Greatest Italian
As the Giro d’Italia draws near it is important to
note that 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Italian great Fausto
Coppi, an event that will be commemorated during this year’s race.
Coming out of the devastation of World War II Italy was in desperate need of
distraction and a hero and Coppi certainly filled that bill. His list of cycling
triumphs is an accomplished one.
Despite the war’s intrusion into the prime of his career, his palmares include:
stage wins and five overall victories (1940, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953) in the Giro
d’Italia (tied for the most ever),
Two Tour de France wins (winning both the
overall and king of the mountains titles in 1949 and 1952),
A World Championship and numerous one day classics victories, including Milan-San Remo, Fleche Wallonne,
Tour of Lombardy and Paris-Roubaix.
He was also the first cyclist to win both
the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in the same year; and
accomplished the feat twice (1949 and
Fausto Coppi was the youngest winner
of the Giro d'Italia
1940 (20 years, 8 months, 25 days)
Fausto Coppi 'Il Campionissimo'
Coppi may be most remembered for his rivalry with fellow Italian Gino Bartali
and how he won several high profile races through dominating performances in the
mountains. One of his greatest victories was in the 1946 Milan-San Remo classic.
Coppi attacked with nine other riders just 3 miles into the 181 mile race.
the climb up the Turchino, he dropped all and went on to win by 14 minutes over
the second placed rider, and by 18:30 over Gino Bartali and the rest of the
Coppi after his 1949 Milan-Sanremo win.
Photo courtesy Gazzetta dello Sport
A day of the 1949 Giro is also of particular note. The 17th stage used the
legendary Cuneo-Pinerolo route and was a truly memorable moment in that year’s
race. The route went over five major climbs in a row through the Italian and
French Alps: Colle della Maddalena, Vars, Izoard, re-entry into Italy via
Monginevro and, finally, Sestrière before arriving in Pinerolo. Almost two
hundred and fifty kilometers in length, much of the stage was on dirt roads.
Fausto Coppi’s performance that day is legendary, his 190-kilometer breakaway
solo ride began halfway up the first climb of the day, the Colle della Maddalena
and concluded at the finishing line in Pinerolo. He won by 11 minutes and 52
seconds over his historic friend and rival Gino Bartali who placed second. Third
place went to Alfredo Martini but who it was said was first among mere mortals
as he finished over 20 minutes behind Coppi. Riding alone ride through the
mountains that day immortalized both rider and landscape and is considered one
of the greatest moments in cycling.
In the 1953 Giro Coppi rallied late in the race with a legendary ride on the
now famous climb of the Stelvio. Attacking at the beginning of the brutal ascent
(unpaved in 1953) he went on to win the stage to take the pink jersey. From that
day forward the
Stelvio is known as Cima (top) Coppi and each year the highest
point of the Giro is noted as such and a prize awarded for the first rider to
Tragically Fausto Coppi passed away in 1960 at the young age of 40 from
malaria. To this day he continues to be an almost mythic figure in cycling
circles and was truly one of the most dominant riders of all time.
More on Fausto Coppi
FAUSTO COPPI -
THE LEGEND: PART 1
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