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Gino Bartali, the athlete and the man

A cyclist unforgettable and also a hero with the great soul

It was 1925 when, in a village on the outskirts of Florence, an 11-year-old Gino Bartali salt on his first bike. From this moment begins the story of a great hero deeply.

 

The peasant origins
 

Bartali, born in the summer of 1914 from a humble family of peasants. The brothers Bartali worked in both fields next to the mother who made lace and embroidery to make ends meet.

The young man bought a bicycle so as to enable parents to Gino reaching middle school, far from their country home. Gino, around the same time, he began working in a bike shop and at 17 years old he had already won his first bicycle race. It was only the first of many successes of the young peasant.

 

The giant mountains

Bartali so he cultivated his passion for cycling since he was very young and beautiful Tuscan hills, traveled far and wide with his bike, were the protagonists of this great love. In 1936 he won the tour of Italy, his first major competition, and the victory was repeated for the tour of Italy of 1937 and again in 1938. Later he would win three consecutive mountain stages in the Tour de France, and was one of the most extraordinary feats in the history of cycling.

Bartali was also known as the "Giant Mountains" because of his stocky build and lead your bike, even in the most difficult roads, effortlessly. The style of Bartali was considered unusual, was in fact a climber as few, but uphill preferred to remain seated. Even his character was unique and was famous for being cocky, no half measures and pessimistic.

 

The historic rival
 

But Bartali wasn't the only Italian rider to be characterized by a strong temperament. Gino, famous for being conservative and very religious, always fought with Fausto Coppi, the cyclist in Northern Italy, a lover of life and secular.

Coppi was considered the hero of the industrial North, while Bartali was revered by Southern farmer. The opposition does not end there: Bartali was a lover of good Tuscan red wine and long and lavish dinners, while his rival was meticulous in diet and exercise. It was known that Ginetaccio, the sinewy, liked to taunt Coppi because of her petite and called it "skinny as a mutton bone".

 

A less-known side
 

Bartali is unforgettable because of his big heart and for his civic engagement.

When il Duce announced Italy's entry into the war, Gino decided to participate in the clandestine network set up by the then Archbishop of Florence. There are many times that moved between Umbria and Tuscany, with hundreds of counterfeit documents well hidden in the frame of the bike, so as to aid in the escape hundreds of Jews persecuted by the Nazis.

 

Photo Credits [travelchannel.co.uk]

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