Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gino Bartali

Gino Bartali the cycling hero was known to be great at climbing. He was born July 18th, 1914 in Ponte a Emma, Italy and lived until May 5th, 2000.

While reading many stories of Gino Bartali's racing achievements it becomes apparent that he won races due to his determination and pushing himself to work hard while racing.

Bartali won the Tour de France in 1938 and then again ten years later in 1948. There was no Tour de France during the years 1940 through 1946 due to war. He was robbed of his best athletic years, mid 20s to early 30s, due to World War II. During the 1937 Tour de France Bartali road away from his competition on the Galibier, only to crash into a river bed the next day and have to leave the race. He came back the next year to dominate the tour and win his first Tour de France in 1938. Ten years later, in 1948, half way through the tour Bartali was 20 minutes down on the leader when he received a phone call from the Italian Prime Minister himself. The Prime Minister told Bartali that Italy was on the verge of civil war and he must win the tour to save the nation. Bartali understood that this would distract and reunite the people of Italy. The next day he went to work on winning the race. When the 1948 edition of the Tour de France came to the finish Bartali won by 26 minutes over the next competitor.
During World War II Bartali worked for the resistance by delivering messages in the tubes of his bicycle. He was known through out the region and given free passage while training on his bike.

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Bartali on the Tourmalet

Most of these climbs appear to be on roads that are not paved.

Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi. They were known to be great rivals. They were also great friends. Bartali went to visit Coppi, who was sick with malaria, shortly before Coppi died. Coppi said "See Gino, I am first again".

Gino Bartali reaching back to shift gears while climbing

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Bartali's Bicycle
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Campagnolo dual-rod rear shifter

Some racing wins from Gino Bartali's career:
Tour de France 1938 and 1948
Giro d' Italia 1936, 1937 and 1946
Tour of Switzerland 1946 and 1947
Milan-San Remo 1939, 1940, 1947 and 1950
Tour of Lombardy 1936,1939 and 1940

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