Road to Valor
June 15, 2012 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Gino Bartali achieved fame by winning the 1938 Tour de France, but what he did on his bike during the war is what made him a real hero.

The linked Sports Illustrated article is an excerpt of the new book Road to Valor.

Bartali also won the Giro d'Italia in 1936, 1937 and 1946

After being unable to defend his Tour title in 1939 because Italy didn't send a team, Bartali returned to the Tour in 1948
posted by IanMorr (15 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
This is awesome. Thanks.
posted by Fizz at 10:08 AM on June 15, 2012

Yeah, definitely fantastic. Wonder if he rode a fixte....
posted by Eekacat at 10:09 AM on June 15, 2012

Gino is one of my favorite athletes.
posted by francesca too at 10:12 AM on June 15, 2012

You can see some of his bikes at the Gino Bartali Cycling Museum website. The site's in Italian, obviously, but here it is via Google Translate.
posted by zamboni at 10:20 AM on June 15, 2012

Aw, hell yeah. Also, did anyone find it ironic that the evil guy's name was Carità?
posted by resurrexit at 10:20 AM on June 15, 2012

Yeah, definitely fantastic. Wonder if he rode a fixte...

In '38 he most likely would have been riding a bike equipped with an early form of rod shifters, which were made possible by Tullio Campagnolo's invention of the quick-release wheel. An improved form, the "Cambio Corsa" shifter, was developed in 1940. This style of shifter used two spring loaded rods, mounted along the seat-stay. One would loosen the quick-release, allowing the wheel to move in the drop-out. The other would then be used to manipulate the chain from one cog to another. By this point, the freewheel had already been invented, and was common on competition bikes.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:44 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

At the summit, the actor and singer Maurice Chevalier yelled out to him from a French press car, "Bartali! You're immortal!" And for one fleeting moment, as he crossed the finish line, he was.

posted by Ironmouth at 10:49 AM on June 15, 2012

This is a great story, and a good strong antidote to the more recent doping scandals.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:52 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Gino Bartali also had a wonderful, complicated friendship/rivalry with Fausto Coppi, known as "Il Campionissimo."

Take a few minutes out of your day to read an essay (in four parts) by Bartali on his friendship with Coppi. Part I.

posted by entropone at 11:52 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Why on earth was the Vatican writing incriminating thank you letters? Miss Manners would let you leave them 'til after the war, you'd think.
posted by Abiezer at 2:20 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Cyclists have always "doped", I'm not sure where the recent fanaticism comes from and am disgusted with the continuous harassment of riders after they retire. If you've ever raced at an elite level you understand how boring the training and competing can become - the performance benefits from doping are often slight but the psychological benefits of that small boost can be huge. This is why riders like Bartali, Coppi and Merckx were drawn to Amphetamines. Look-up Pot Belge. Don't hold it against them, they are still personal heros of mine - deservedly.
posted by rotifer at 2:54 PM on June 15, 2012

Great read.

I am spending the week in a small town in Lombardy, and the cycling culture here is like nothing I had seen before. I just went to a shop that sells everything from wooden rims and rod shifter parts to locally built carbon and titanium frames. The owner has on display the bike he used to break a speed record in 1923.

Regarding doping, competitive cycling is so much about mental fortitude and pain endurance that the more you dope the more you suffer. There is a natural progression from a 6 espressos and a dozen eggs breakfast to amphetamines and now blood doping. They all allow you to suffer more intensely and more often.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 3:39 PM on June 15, 2012

Ayn_Rand_and_God, I'm glad the cycling culture is alive and well in Lomdardy! At least three of our local cycling stores here have closed down recently, and it saddens me.

I wish cycling had more of a following here, but fans like to route for the home team, and cycling's popularity in the States is suffering from the lack of American riders to route for, especially in the Tour de France. With Lance Armstrong gone and George Hincapie retiring this year, American riders who can consistently bring wins are getting hard to find. I like some of the younger riders coming up in the ranks, but the most promising of them are not from the States, either. Thank goodness for Levi Leipheimer!
rotifer, if the training and competing is boring, riders can always choose not to do it at a professional level, where they are required to take drug tests to compete, and their doping reflects badly on the sponsors paying to support them.

If they instead choose to go pro, choose to dope, and then choose to lie about doping, why shouldn't their fans and sponsors be angry? It's as much about the lying as it is the doping--which, despite the "harassment" that disgusts you, gives them an unfair advantage over the cyclists who do follow the rules (as evidenced by their repeated clean drug tests).

I can't imagine that Andy Schleck is happy that Contador only won the 2010 Tour because he doped, and Andy only had the title finally revert to him this year after months of investigation. He (and his brother) and the whole cycling team would have benefited from endorsements, sponsorships and exposure that they never got because of Contador's actions.

I doubt Schleck (who won't be able to participate in this year's Tour de France due to an injury) and the other riders who suffered as a result of Contador's doping in 2010 would consider that investigation "harassment".
posted by misha at 4:17 PM on June 15, 2012

This isn't a post about doping.
It's disappointing when people wrestle every post about cycling toward doping.
posted by entropone at 3:21 PM on June 16, 2012

« Older Reading Along the Lines   |   The unglamourous side of skateboarding Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments