On Saturday the 14th, on Valentines Day as ironic would be, you placed your final attack. Before the final finish line on the summit of life, life already has beaten you. Racing this race you could not, would not win. When the radio did spit out the concrete and sharp words out in the dark silent air that one of the greater racers of recent years had died, the day died too. And re-lived in memories to make sure memories stay alive.
Will miss you, but will always caress you in my heart. Years ago, one tiny Italian in Carrera jersey caught my eye. Imaged my simple view of climbing, of beating the mountains with a sole companion. A bike and just you. An exactly that you made me like you, even admire you. You were not just the other racer, the other winner. You kept you humanity. Your focus was on the race, on the summits, on the final finish line. Your heart and eyes and feel and soul were with those who supported you along your roads to success. Along those roads and along those downhill too as well. Your heart was with your tifosi, even when you were taken out of the Giro and swarmed by press and condemned by facts and fiction, you ventilated the simple thought that you felt sorry for the tifosi, the ones who supported you. You felt for them, you were them.
Even in your best year, winning both Giro and Tour you cherished your fans. In cycling-mad Italia you drowned yourself in celebrations, in Paris after the Tour win you could not care less that bodyguards for sure did want to move you as fast as possible from one ceremony to the other. No, you, Marco, you decided to take all the time needed to sign that little kid’s Mercatone jersey. It made you smile, it made you relive yourself. And later, at a simple crit in sweaty wet Holland you blabbered and blabbered when one asked you to sign a Tour de France sign illegally taken from France’s roadsides. And when the additional signing of the Italian jacket came in order, you checked out all the preceding signers. When you found the Garzelli-autograph, it melted you. You caressed the spot, silently whispering in admiration ‘Stefano’. That image was really you, you were and are a part of many.
When experiencing such a high, down can be a long way, a hard way, the toughest way. Even so you came back, and came back once more. You devoted yourself to working for your team mates. And even more even so you kept on attracting all attention. At the start of the Giro you and your team mates went training. In the middle of nowhere, near the autostrada the stampa did find your hotel as it was beaconed out with yellow lights. All camera and press people where present to bring Italia in Gironingen via RAI Uno back to Italia. And you represented that, they knew. Two roads though led back to the hotel. Two roads to chose from, and of course the cameraman present chose the wrong one. He saw from a far that those men in yellow rode back to the parking lot, grabbed all his heavy stuff and tried to make it back to the hotel before you did. When he trembled to the higher grass, the pace in the yellow train just increased slightly. When he went faster, you did as well, teasing him, being the ultimate bite for the eye of Italia. Back at the hotel you parked your bike, walked around, spoke to whoever wanted to blabber with you, presenting yourself. Presenting yourself in all your strengths and weaknesses.
But even though you were never really alone, you really were. You kept on climbing, you still do, you probably always will. I bet you even have a bike with you there, but for sure hope you have found the peace you were searching for so desperately.
Ciao Marco, will miss you, but will never forget you.