Gino Bartali, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI, (18 July 1914 – 5 May 2000), nicknamed “Gino the Pious”, was an Italian cyclist who became a national idol and united Italy during a period of political mayhem when he won the 1948 Tour de France. His career ran for 20 years in a period that was interrupted by the World War II.
Greatest Sporting Achievements
Bartali holds the record for the longest time span between victories – ten years – at the Tour de France. Bartali won more than 180 races including the Milan-San Remo race four times, Tour of Switzerland twice, Tour of Lombardy thrice, Italian National Championship four times and the Giro d’Italia thrice.
Why Was He So Good?
Gino Bartali was a good climber and a pioneer of derailleur gears. His style was never common, he sometimes danced on the pedals and when others attacked, he stay in the saddle but changed up gear. Gino Bartali found that his physical stamina alone wouldn’t bring him victory where his competitors where a couple of years younger than him but with his intellectual elasticity that would give him the power to cycle through any type of weather condition.
What You May Not Know
- When he was younger, he earned money back selling raffia to makers of covers for wine bottles.
- During the war, Gino Bartali risked his own life by sheltering a local Jewish family in an apartment he purchased with his cycling winnings. Gino smuggled counterfeit identity documents around Tuscany and Umbria that enabled a number of Jews to hide their true identities and avoid deportation to a concentration camp.
- One of his famous sayings was “It’s all wrong here. It all needs to be re-done.”
- Gino was a religious man and made his devotions public. In return, he became Vatican’s favorite sportsman and was personally blessed by three popes.
Was he a legend?
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